Okay, the title may not fit my actions. Last nite, I stayed up to the wee hours filling out 14 brackets. I must have 7 different teams winning the championship. However, no matter how I look at, Kansas and Ohio State look like the favorites. Ohio State has what you need to win, good guard play (by 3-4 guys), good rebounding (as long as Sullinger is on the court), good decision making (check out the 53% shooting percentage) and great defense (they guard the perimeter as well as anyone and Sullinger is a defensive rebounding machine). Kansas runs their half court offense as well as anyone and can score from just about anywhere. They have great chemistry, can rebound, and play defense. The problem may be their guard play is not quite the same level of a Ohio State, Duke, Kentucky, Louisville, or possibly Pitt. Yet, the Morris twins make up for a lot. Now that they have extended their shooting ranges, watch out for the Jayhawks. Longshots might be Kentucky or Louisville. Two number 4 seeds who probably deserve higher seeds. If Louisville can hit their threes beyond Preston Knowles, they are a threat against anyone. Kentucky, what can you say, they have some size, good athletes, good defense, and can hit the three. If Calipari gets them moving more on offense and not settling for the three all the time, they could make some noise. Finally, I am a West Coast guy and have to put in my 2 cents for a team to watch in the West-not SDSU or Gonzaga. Not Arizona or Washington and not Utah State. I say UCLA. Inconsistent yes, but with Malcom Lee, Jerime Anderson, and Zeke Jones they have the potential in such a short window of games to cause some defensive damage. Their big men, mainly Reeves Nelson, Tyler Honeycutt, and Josh Smith are strong on the boards. Now, if Reeves can play with emotion but not get too out of control. If Josh can stay out of foul trouble, they will do well-Sweet Sixteen? Okay, let's say Ohio State.
Now, why is March Madness overdone? C'mon, 68 games and teams playing on TRU TV? We are now crying because St. Mary's or Colorado are out and happy that 14 game losing teams like Michigan State and USC are in? We have a one hour show on ESPNU that has 6-7 ex-coaches and players talking about how Jimmer won't be able to beat Gonzaga in round 2. The analysis by these guys was as if the games had already been played and we were talking about the results postgame. I am all for someone making a buck, but how many analysts can you have? I mean you can only tell me in so many ways why Ohio State might win or lose in the Sweet Sixteen. I like what Marquette Buzz Williams has been saying about the whining of coaches this time of year-simply win the games you are supposed to and surprise, you will usually be in the tournament. Also, the conference tournaments not called the ACC or Big East are way too hyped. I know the fans agree. You needed cardboard cut outs at Staples to watch a good game between Arizona and Washington on Saturday nite. Why not make it simple-conference champs get in automatically and the conference tourney winners may get in if they win. It gives the bubble teams a chance to earn some more mojo to get into the tournament. To be honest UCSB does not excite me in any way in the tournament.
I am all over the map in my musings about the tournament. Don't get me wrong...I love Gus Johnson calling a game. In the last 2 minutes, no announcer is better. Dan Patrick said they should advertise the games as UCLA vs Florida State starring Gus Johnson. I love the games, almost better than the pros. But I know my opinions are all over the map because the coverage and thinking behind the tournament is all over the map. Too much analysis-first in, first out, ranking of number one seeds, top 50 wins, RPI, Digger, Coach Knight, Dickie V...stop the Madness I say or at least simplify it. Don't over hype it too much...sometimes the best movies are ones that you go to without much expectation. Not every NCAA tourney game is going into 2 OT's. There are blowouts and there are games where both teams are cold. Let's take a deep breath, watch them play in games, get some popcorn, soda, beer, or veggies and turn down the volume and enjoy. Only turn it up when Gus Johnson is announcing.
Quickly, I still need to see Bynum do what he is doing the last few games between now and the championship clinching game this year and then I will be a huge believer, BUT the Lakers are just cementing why they should be the big favorites in any 7 game series. You may beat them once or twice, but 3 or 4, I don't think so. For the Purple and Gold, keep throwing the ball inside and everything else will fall into place.