It was such a nice day, I actually left work early (early being 5:15) so I could get home and get outside. After somewhat cleaning up all the branches that the Noreaster had knocked down from our trees, I played soccer and baseball with my older son, Matthew. Finally, he wanted to ride his bike. And I decided to take a picture. And of course, he did his "cheshire cat smile" face when I took this.
So for the second year in a row, I am honoring Mr. Whelliston's tradition of NOT filling out a bracket. I enjoyed the games more last year when not pondering over a bracket. And once again, I am not going to fill out a bracket. I will give some predictions and my sleeper picks. However, I warn you, my first pick of Winthrop over Arkansas Pine Bluff is not looking so good at the moment.
I was in Lawrence, Kansas for my first basketball game of the season, when I watched Kansas dispatch Hofstra. And as much as I am a midmajor guy at heart, I thought then and throughout the entire season that Kansas was the best team in the country. And nothing changes that now. The Jayhawks are too talented, too deep, too disciplined and the best all around team.
Now as for other teams, I have some thoughts. UTEP is getting a lot of sleeper love from the prognosticators. But I have seen a lot of Butler during the season, especially down the stretch. This is a Sweet 16 team at least. Howard, Hayward and Mack. They are that good.
Cornell is another team that's getting a lot of sleeper love. And I like Wittman and Foote a lot. But they deserved a higher seed than a 12 and the result is a first round match with Temple. The Owls have had an outstanding non conference schedule and they will be ready for the Big Red. In fact, I like Brooks, Fernandez and Allen and company to go to the Elite 8. Yes, I have them beating Kentucky.
Baylor is another team that I see going really far as in Final Four far. The question will be how well they play defense. But I love Dunn, Carter and Udoh. They should have a dandy of a game in the Sweet Sixteen. The question will be who will they play Villanova, Richmond or St Mary's. I can see any of those three coming out from there. There are great players there like Omar Samhan, David Gonzalvez, Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher, Kevin Anderson. Love the bottom of the South bracket.
Teams I see pulling off upsets - ODU over Notre Dame. Perfect team for ODU to face. Irish guards are nothing special and the Monarchs can stay with the Irish frontcourt. Gerald Lee needs to have a big game though to offset Luke Harangody.
I think Murray State plays Butler in the round of 32. They shoot the ball really well, underrated defensively and their offense should exploit a soft Vanderbilt team.
Xavier is going to make a sweet 16 run. They can grind with Pittsburgh. Siena is the wrong team for a wounded Purdue team to face. The Boilermakers won't generate enough steam to stop a veteran Saints team that has won a first round NCAA tournament game in each of the past two years. I could see Siena going to the Sweet 16 as well.
Teams that are getting sleeper love but that I would stay away from - San Diego State, Utah State and Minnesota. The Aztecs haven't won a significant non conference game all season, the Aggies are 2-3 non conference neutral and road, and Minnesota is playing a good Xavier team.
My final four - Kansas, Syracuse, West Virginia and Baylor. Final - Kansas over West Virginia.
Can't wait for Thursday!