Well this is exciting. Another year of NCAA Tournament basketball. Another year of horrific predictions that will be available on the internet from now until eternity. At the beginning of last year's version of this article in which I basically got everything right in what was a crapshoot year, I wrote:
"Say what you will about Georgetown's performances in the last few NCAA Tournaments, but John Thompson III deserves a ton of recognition for what he has done with this program. Starting in 2005-2006, Georgetown has made six of the last seven NCAA Tournaments, and have been seeded 7, 2, 2, 3, 6, and 3 in each respective draw. For a program that was an afterthought in the Big East from 1999-2004, this is a staggering achievement. To receive a 3 seed a year after losing Austin Freeman, Chris Wright, and Julian Vaughn is the best coaching job in the country besides Bill Self."
Unbelievably, you could cut and paste the exact same paragraph this year, just substituting Jason Clark, Henry Sims, Hollis Thompson and Greg Whittington for Freeman, Wright and Vaughn. Hell, even Bill Self had another incredible year reshuffling his team after losing Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor. Suffice it to say, JT3 has built himself one hell of a program that has seamlessly replaced talent and been able to grab top seeding year after year.
Onto this year's rapid reactions.
Louisville, the number 1 overall seed, somehow got the bracket of death, snagging Duke as a #2, Michigan State as a #3 and St. Louis as a #4. Quite frankly, had those four teams been in four different regions, I would have probably picked all four to be in the Final Four. St. Louis, in particular, is a brutal draw for Louisville because they handle pressure so well, as evidenced by their victory over VCU earlier today. An argument could be made that Duke with Ryan Kelly has the best resume in the country and somehow they ended up as the 2 seed in Louisville's region. Last but not least, who the heck wants to play Michigan State in a tournament game, particularly when the regional is being held in Indianapolis.
The Favorite: Louisville
The Sleeper: St. Louis
Upset Special: #11 MTU over #6 Memphis
Elite Eight Matchup: Louisville vs. Michigan State
Final Four Pick: Louisville
Talk about role reversal. Gonzaga (who I have never seen play but will proceed to make a bunch of bold predictions about) was viewed as the weakest #1 seed, but appears to have the easiest route to the Final Four. They drew Ohio State as a #2 seed, New Mexico as a #3 seed and Kansas State as a #4 seed. I know next to nothing about all of those teams besides Ohio State, so take the rest of these predictions with the largest grain of salt you can find. If there is going to be a region where a team seeded #5 or lower comes out, this will be the one. Of the top 4 seeds, I'd lean towards Ohio State, but I also have a very hard time envisioning a single player on their team getting to the NBA currently, and that tends to be a relatively decent predictor of success in the tournament.
The Favorite: Ohio State
The Sleeper: Wisconsin
Upset Special: #5 Wisconsin over #1 Gonzaga
Elite Eight Matchup: Wisconsin vs. Ohio State (barf, I will not watch this game)
Final Four Pick: Wisconsin (barf)
If I were Tom Crean, I'd be kissing every member of the NCAA Tournament Committee for putting Indiana in the East and not the Midwest. The Hoosiers, who are the most talented team in the country, drew Miami as a #2 seed, Marquette as a #3 seed, and Syracuse as a #4 seed. They will have very little trouble with any of those teams. I'd actually argue that the toughest test in the region for them will be whomever wins the 8/9 matchup between NC State and Temple. As Hoya fans so vividly remember, NC State has a ton of talent and can get hot for a few games. I think Indiana will cruise through this region, but if there is one game that trips them up, it will be in the round of 32. Additionally, having watched Syracuse enough this year, they reek of a team that will lose in the first or second round, just don't have the mental toughness to make a deep run in the tournament as long as Michael Carter-Williams is playing a prominent role in the program.
The Favorite: Indiana
The Sleeper: NC State
Upset Special: #11 Bucknell over #6 Butler
Elite Eight Matchup: Indiana vs. Miami
Final Four Pick: Indiana
Last but not least, the South region, which just so happens to house my friends and your favorites, the mothafuggin Georgetown Hoyas. Kansas is the #1 seed in this region, Georgetown is the #2 seed, Florida is the #3 seed and Michigan is the #4 seed. That's an awesome set of 4 teams, all of whom were considered for a 1 seed at one point or another during the season. Weirdly enough, Georgetown has now been in Kansas' region in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 and now 2013. We haven't met them just yet because we didn't have the luxury of getting out of the first weekend in any of those seasons, but details be damned amiright?!
I actually was really pleased with the other top 3 teams that Georgetown drew, purely from a matchup perspective. The only team I wish we could sub out is Florida and put in New Mexico instead, but nothing is perfect. I had no interest in seeing Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana, Wisconsin, St. Louis or Miami, so this works out pretty well assuming we're able to get out of the first weekend. I'm sure I will be terrified of the winner of Oklahoma and San Diego State when the time comes, but for now, it seems like we have a relatively easy path to the Sweet 16. I would have said the same thing in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012 as well, so take that with the second largest grain of salt you can find.
I've decided that I am going to try to take a different path with the NCAA Tournament this year when it comes to Georgetown. I feel like the entire fanbase goes into excessive sphincter tightening around this time, and I've decided that this team doesn't deserve that. We've outperformed every expectation imaginable and for the first time since I've been a fan of the program, we have the best player on the court every time we play. Combine that with an unbelievable defense and I think we're going to have a very enjoyable March. DSR was in 8th grade when we lost to Davidson. No one on this roster was on the team that lost to Ohio in 2010. Only Markel Starks and Nate Lubick were on the team that lost to VCU in 2011. Only Lubick and Otto played more than 20 minutes against NC State last year. This is a long way of saying that I don't think this team gives a single shit about our past tournament history and have very few scars to show for those losses. The fanbase, on the other hand, is legitimately terrified of a school that didn't exist before 1997 and lost to Stetson last month. Perspective people, this team is different and we're poised for a very, very fun March.
The Favorite: Kansas
The Sleeper: VCU
Upset Special: #11 Minnesota over #6 UCLA
Elite Eight Matchup: Georgetown vs. Michigan
Final Four Pick: Georgetown
Louisville over Wisconsin
Indiana over Georgetown
Louisville over Indiana