Retrievers, Bulls, and Ramblers...oh my! Madness has once again taken over March and has left the nation of amateur hoops prognosticators in shambles. We’ve only made it through the first two rounds and have already said goodbye to two 1-seeds, two 2-seeds, two 3-seeds, and three 4-seeds. Some quick math will lead one to notice that only seven of the teams that are “supposed” to be in the Sweet 16 actually are.
What are we to do with the mess that’s left over? Engage in a purely academic debate over which teams still standing are best, of course. To achieve this goal, I’m attempting to reseed the bracket (an idea that has seriously been proposed previously to the NCAA).
I won’t completely disregard the regular season. But, I will place emphasis on a team’s performance in the tournament. Feel free to comment on how dumb my selections are and how you would correct them.
Villanova—The ‘Cats have more than handled their business against both Radford and Alabama, making an easy case for best looking team in the tournament.
Kansas—It certainly hasn’t been pretty for the Big 12 champs. They had Jayhawk country scared early against Penn and were not overly convincing in their win over Seton Hall. But, Texas Tech fans know how good that Seton Hall team is. Bottom line, Kansas may appear beatable, but I am not going to punish a 1 seed for winning.
Duke—Coach K has his kids playing extremely efficient ball, and the Blue Devils have completely rolled in both their match ups so far. Those who placed their bracket hopes in this basket have to be feeling pretty good right about now.
West Virginia—Neither game they have played has been close. That being said, the Mountaineers haven’t exactly been tested by top-tier talent in the tourney yet. Elite guard play and a difficult match up style wise still puts WVU in the top echelon of who’s left.
Michigan—Poor, poor Houston. The Wolverines buzzer beater over the Cougars was the epitome of March Madness. This team’s balance on offense and defense is the epitome of a top-notch college basketball team.
Texas Tech—No need to go in depth here for my VTM crowd. You know why this team is good. The close variety of both victories, though, prevents Tech from being a 1-seed.
Purdue—This team would have been a 1-seed for me if not for the injury to their starting center, 7-footer Isaac Haas. Even without Haas, this team is a force. The Red Raiders will have their hands full on Friday.
Gonzaga—UNC-Greensboro turned out to be a tough test for the Zags, as did Ohio State. They managed to come out on top, though. Gonzaga has looked good all season, it’s time to see if that will hold up against stiffer competition.
Texas A&M—As much I hate to give the Aggies any sort of praise, they beat a good Providence team and, outside of UMBC beating Virginia, own maybe the most surprising win in the tourney over North Carolina.
Florida State—I’m sure Seminole fans (do any of them read VTM?) are still crying foul about that last sentence and asking about their own win over Xavier. To me, Xavier was by far the most beatable 1-seed. A beatable 1-seed is still a 1-seed, though, which is why FSU leapfrogged over some teams.
Clemson—Tigers took care of a plucky NMSU and demolished Auburn. But how good was Auburn, really? I like this team, just not as much as those above them.
Kentucky—Calipari’s youngsters looked impressive over Buffalo but had some trouble with Davidson. I’m all for freshman playing an important role on a successful team (see Jarrett Culver and Zhaire Smith). Kentucky, though, has a LOT of freshman who have hit major stumbling blocks throughout the year.
Nevada—VTM readers should be familiar with the Wolf Pack from their visit to Lubbock in December. Back-to-back comeback victories make this team a great tournament story, but it doesn’t land them a higher seed in my bracket.
Loyola-Chicago—Speaking of great tournament stories, lets talk about the Ramblers (of Gryffindor?). Two games against opponents from Power 5 conferences, and they have two buzzer-beating wins. Their guard play and senior leadership makes them a tough out, but they are still a Cinderella.
Syracuse—Is it really an upset if you’re a school with as rich a basketball tradition as ‘Cuse? Wins over Arizona State and TCU didn’t do much for me, but knocking off Michigan State certainly got my attention. I’d be surprised if the momentum Syracuse had the first weekend continues in the next round.
Kansas State—Winners of the first ever 16-9 match up in tournament history, the Wildcats caught the break of a century (ok, only 34 years) in not having to face Virginia in the second round. KSU was good enough to be competitive in the Big 12, but they just don’t stack up against the rest of this field.