We're not playing, but we're watching! I know that many of you are saddened (or maybe relieved) that yet another forgettable season of Gamecocks basketball is now over, but that doesn't mean that you can't enjoy March Madness. I've created a bracket game at Yahoo, and I hope some of you can join. To do so, go here, sign up, and create your bracket. As always, let me know if you experience any difficulties. You might also enjoy joining SB Nation's "Wisdom of the Crowds" game.
If you're looking for wisdom about how to pick your bracket, well...you should probably go ask someone who hasn't been working on a dissertation for 12 hours a day for the past month or so. My hoops knowledge is somewhat more limited this year than in years past. That said, I do have a few teams that I like this year:
Vanderbilt. I've got Vandy in the Final Four, losing to UNC. It's not just their dramatic victory over Kentucky in the SECT that's got me liking the Commodores, although that's certainly quite an accomplishment, considering how good Kentucky is this year and the fact that the SECT was packed with Kentucky fans, as usual. But I've liked Vandy to make a March run all year because of their experience. This isn't a perfect team, but it's a talented, senior-laden team. Those kinds of teams oftentimes play well in March. Now, of course, it's also a team that comes into the tournament on a pronounced hot streak. This group has had a bit of the "team of destiny" feel lately. I like them to do well here, including a Sweet 16 upset against Syracuse. It should be noted that Syracuse, despite its high ranking, may be the least impressive one seed--obviously a good team, but too many close wins for me to say they're comparable to some of the other top teams.
Baylor. Baylor is a three seed, so they're not exactly a cinderella. That said, I think they got a favorable bracket, and I have them going to the Elite Eight and losing to Kentucky--and I could see them winning that game. Regardless of how they do there, the second-round game against UNLV should be a rout, and the Sweet 16 game against Notre Dame or Duke shouldn't be too difficult. I actually have Duke exiting in the second round. The Blue Devils looked great midseason, but this was the softest ACC in recent memories, and even then, Duke limped down the stretch.
N.C. State. This isn't exactly a team that I like to go deep. Like I said, this was a soft ACC, and the Wolfpack's total body of work doesn't even really come close to that of UNC, Duke, or FSU. That said, they looked good in the ACCT and really should have won against UNC if not for the officiating. I think they're one of those teams that is gelling at the right time, kind of like a Vandy-lite.
My 12 over 5 is Long Beach State over New Mexico. I'm not quite sold on the MWC being as good as it is, and LB State had some nice OOC wins, as well as a couple of very close losses to top seeds KU and UNC. LB State looks like a nice cinderella pick this year.
So, there you have it. You probably won't win a million bucks with that wisdom, but maybe it gives you a few things to think about.
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