It is an extreme chore not to focus all of my attention on the NCAA Tournament. And I will admit, the majority of my thought over the past 24 hours has been focused on the Madness. How should I fill out my bracket? Will it be an upset city marathon like last year? Or will all the parity hype just be for not? Well there is one thing I do know. The Southeast Region will by far be the most unpredictable. Since viewing the Selection Show on Sunday, I was utterly shocked at the way this region came out.
Southeast Region will define “Madness”
My initial reaction to this part of the bracket was disbelief. Was this a joke? How could the Selection Committee possibly put together a region that appears to be that much weaker than the rest? I am honestly not sure. According to ESPN College Basketball Analyst Jay Bilas, the Selection Committee may not even be aware that a basketball is round. But I will tell you something. Good luck in calling the games in the Southeast. It will be no easy task.
First of all there is the number 1 seed Pittsburgh. Now I realize that Pittsburgh was the regular season champions of America’s best conference (Big East). But they really began to play like mere mortals down the stretch, losing 3 of their last 6. The Panthers received the number 1 seed largely due to the fact that Notre Dame went down to Louisville in the Big East Tournament Semifinals. The Big East was America’s elite conference this year without question. But it really lacked a sure fire Final Four team. There are many great teams, but no team in that elite, National Title Favorite tier. The Panthers play a very similar brand of basketball to the Bob Huggins’ UC teams of the 1990s and early 2000s. They play outstanding defense and really hit the boards with ferocity unmatched by any other team. Also the effort level on a night in and night out basis is simply amazing. I mean just look at Gary McGhee. The senior is a straight bruiser that I would not want to enter the paint with. He embodies Pittsburgh Panther basketball.
Now I realize that Bob Huggins is a fantastic coach who has reached two Final Fours during his coaching career. But typically, Huggy Bear has struggled to get out of the 2nd round (now 3rd round). This is due to the fact that these physical, bruising squads are not typically built to make deep tournament runs. You have to be able to score to bring home a title in this day and age. Lacking a consistent scoring base will shoot any team in the foot come March. Both of the years that Coach Huggins went to the Final Four, he had an elite offensive scorer. He had Nick Van Exel back in 1992 and Da’Sean Butler last year for the Mountaineers. Jamie Dixon’s squad lacks that elite scorer. Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker are both very good players, but would you classify either of them in a class with Jimmer, Nolan Smith, or Kemba Walker? The aforementioned trifecta (Fredette, Smith, Walker) are the types of players that can put the team on their backs and carry them to the Final Four. Pittsburgh lucked out in that they are in what appears to be the weakest of the 4 regions, but I see them fizzling out in the Sweet 16 against a very disciplined Wisconsin team. Now if they do make a run to the Final Four, please make sure to tell me that I was wrong. I would love to see the Final Four be represented by 4 teams out of the Big East.
The second eye popping stat regarding this crazy region. Florida is the 2 seed! How did Florida manage a number 2? They got handled by UK in the SEC Final earlier that day and really did not appear to be a 2 or even a 3 seed in my eyes. Somehow UK got a 4 when the Gators got a 2? Hasn’t Kentucky beaten the Gators 2 times in the past month? Something just isn’t adding up there. Outside of the UAB/VCU mystery bids, this was the biggest joke of the entire seeding and selection of the field. Luckily for Florida, this region is not all that strong, so they should still win a few games. But they definitely did not deserve a number 2 seed.
Also in this wild Southeast region, some of the other main contenders are missing key players. BYU is Davies-less and St. John’s is Kennedy-less. Both of these teams had the potential to make deep runs, but are not the same teams without these key players. So that leads me to my Final Four pick out of this region. Yes, I am taking Wisconsin, barring a 1st round collapse against a very good Belmont team, which could very well happen, I see this team finding a way to Houston. Their disciplined, upper-classmen laden team is made for this tournament in my eyes. Teams must have the ability to score out of the half-court in the Tourney and nobody does that in a more efficient manner than the Badgers. I will state, Belmont could easily knock these guys off, but I am still picking the Badgers to come out of this crazy Southeast region.
Can the NFLPA Lay Off?
Earlier today there was talk of the NFLPA not letting players and their families attend the always fun NFL Draft at the end of April. Typically between 15 and 20 players along with their families get invited every year to New York. Once these talks began, major fireworks went off. Now NFLPA Executive, George Atallah has stated that they would never take away this privilege of going to the draft from the elite 20 players and their families that get invited to this grand event. But he has said that things will be different.
Well tell me Mr. Atallah, how will things be different? It would be a shame if the current/former players ruined this event for the guys that have worked so hard to get to the point where they get invited to New York to attend the draft. I hope there is nothing different even with the unsure future of the League. Let the kids enjoy this very special time please. All differences aside between the Owners and the NFLPA, let the incoming guys enjoy this.
Just some “Food for Thought.”
Let me hear your thoughts though. Please comment below with any questions or insights that you may have or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.