Sunday, March 12, 2006


It's almost time! The brackets are set and the tourney is only hours away! It is the most wonderful time of the year here at "Bitterness". It's time to try and figure out which top seeds will bottom out and which teams will holding a glass slipper. The great thing about the NCAA tourney is that you could watch every college game, read every college hoops article and this will only hinder you more, trust me I know. This whole week leading up to the opening games everyone has their opinions about who is overrated, who is underrated, as well as the up and downside to every team. So let me give you the Bitterness break down of the Big Dance!

First off I want to know what the point of the RPI is, really? Actually first off I just want to say Billy Packer is an ass. Sure the selection committee makes mistakes, but just because two conferences get the same amount of bids doesn't mean the committee is calling them equal. Packer made this comment about the Valley and the ACC. First off the ACC may be the most overrated conference there is! Secondly the ACC got a #1 seed, #3 seed, a #4 seed and whatever NC State got. The Valley's highest seed? That would be Wichita State, a seven seed. Okay back to this RPI debacle. It seems like an arbitrary number that doesn't have as much meaning as you think. You see in theory, in an ideal world, the top 65 teams in the RPI would make the tournament. But, sadly this is not the case. Of course first you have the automatic bids, but of all the automatic bids, only twelve of those teams fell outside of the top 65 in the RPI. Now some quick math tells us that naturally, the top 50 in the RPI should get in, you would think. But apparently that is not how the Selection Committee feels. Supposedly, the RPI is the best way to determine the top teams. Teams like Maryland and Michigan (49 and 47 in the RPI respectively) didn't make it, but they most felt they were overrated and their RPIs are only so high because of the supposed greatness of their conferences. But the selection committee also factors in how you play down the stretch and these teams sealed their own fates by flopping at the end of the season. Now the big snubs have to be #21 Missouri State, #30 Hofstra, #39 Creighton and #40 Cincinnati who will be sentenced to the NIT, while teams like #58 Seton Hall, #57 California, #56 Alabama, and #45 Arkansas will be goin' to the Big Dance. If anything Cincinnati's resume is at least as good if not better than Seton Hall's. But the committee also factors in how teams play down the stretch. So were they not watching the SEC games. Did they not notice that Tennessee flopped down the stretch, because they still thought they were a #2 seed? Now granted the #3s aren't stellar. Florida is iffy, Gonzaga would be a #2 if all their games were played in the Kennel, Iowa plays out of the Big Ten (one of the most overrated conferences in the land) and well UNC would probably have the best case for a #2 but they are young and inexperienced, but at least they have been playing well down the stretch. Anyways enough bitter RPI, selection committee talk, let's get down to business!

Let's start with the DC Bracket:

With all apologies to a certain Electric City Blogger, but this is UCONN's bracket for the taking! UCONN is my pick to win it all, which all but assures them losing early on. The Huskies may get a brief scare in round two by the Blazers of UAB, but after that it's smooth sailing.

Speaking of blazers, Bruce Pearl's orange one better have some magic left in it or his team will be in for an early exit, whether they volunteer for it or not, as they may get shocked by Wichita State in the second round.

Highest seed to fall in the first round:
That would be #5 Washington. Although I almost don't want to make this pick because a lot of "experts" are calling this upset as well, which more or less means trouble for the Aggies.

Other lower seeds with a good chance at the second round:
I like "Squeaky" Johnson and UAB to upset Kentucky, although I don't really consider 9 over 8 as a real upset and I'm still trying to decide if George Mason can take down the Spartans. Michigan State was a preseason fav to reach the Final Four, but has since fallen much, much lower on everyone's charts. The Spartans do have a way of playing above their heads in March though so I think they will avoid the first round upset.

Sweet Sixteen teams:
UCONN, Utah State, North Carolina, Wichita State
Elite Eight:
UCONN, North Carolina
Final Four:

Minneapolis Region:
I gotta stick with the Big East here and go with Nova to win this bracket. Allen Ray should be eyeing the Final Four. They could have trouble with their Sweet 16 matchup with either Nevada or Boston College. But I think their Big East schedule was a tough enough warm-up.

The best 1st round matchup has to be Georgetown versus Northern Iowa. Look for the winnner of this game to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Georgetown has a deep team and can do some things in the halfcourt, while UNI is the darling of the Valley and had a tough schedule to prepare for this. I'm torn, but I feel the Hoyas will pull it out.

For your other first round upsets:
Watch out for Wisconsin-Milwaukee and South Alabama. Both Oklahoma and Florida are highly overrated. Oklahoma won about four or five games in a row by one point against teams like Texas Tech and Kansas State and then got pummelled by Texas and fell to Nebraska in the
conference tourney. Florida, is well, Florida. They are the usual prime target for an upset.

Sweet Sixteen:
Villanova, Boston College, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Georgetown
Elite Eight:
Villanova, Georgetown
Final Four:

Oakland Region:
This is, in my opinion, the weakest region overall, but is probably the toughest, if that makes sense. This was the toughest bracket for me to pick. You see there are definitely some good lower seeds in this one. Alabama, San Diego State, Bucknell, Kent State and Bradley all have the street cred to pull off an upset. In fact I think the Bisons of Bucknell are headed to the Sweet Sixteen, mostly because I don't feel that Memphis is that good. To me they haven't proven themselves. I mean they haven't played a meaningful game in months, but then again maybe that won't matter and maybe they are that good. Caleb Green and Ken "King" Tutt (I don't know if that's his nickname, but it darn well should be) of Oral Roberts will put up a good fight in round one, so look for Memphis to be the first #1 to fall. Also look for Brandon Heath and San Diego State to end Mike Davis' tenure in Bloomington. Kansas and Pittsburgh are playing well right now, but I feel one of them will be out in the first round. I'm just not sure of which one. But I feel whichever of the two can survive is headed to the Final Four. I don't know what to make of UCLA. They have a weak conference, but Ben Howland is a pretty good coach. I don't know about Gonzaga. Adam Morrison is a stud, no doubt and JP Bautista can make things happen. But these games are not in the Kennel, and the Zags haven't made it past round 2 in recent years. You can see my dilemma. Mark my words, this bracket will produce the most upsets and the lowest seeded team in the Final Four.

Sweet Sixteen:
Bucknell, Pittsburgh, Gonzaga, UCLA
Elite Eight:
Pittsburgh, UCLA
Final Four:

Hotlanta Region:
I hate to do it, but I feel Duke will be headed to yet another Final Four, being my only non-Big East team in the Final Four. But I did kinda figure out who Shelden Williams reminds me of. Remember that episode of the Simosons where they have the All-Star softball team? Well Shelden Williams kind of reminds me of Ken Griffey, Jr. with his gotesquely swollen jaw. Maybe he went a little heavy on Coach K's nerve tonic. Don't get me wrong I would love to see the 'Cuse or LSU take 'em down in the round of sixteen. LSU has Glen Davis, no not the Glenn Davis who played first base for the Houston Astros and Baltimore Orioles. Davis weighs over 300 pounds, so naturally he is a favorite here at "Bitterness", but I still feel G-Mac and the Orange have somehting to prove and have picked a great time to be playing their best basketball. But don't sleep on the MAAC Champ, Iona with their high-scorers, Steve Burtt, Jr. and Rickey Solliver to contend with.

The big first round game to watch though (Syracuse and A&M aside) is West Virginia versus Southern Illinois. The Mountaineers live and die by the three, but I feel the winner of this game will also move on to the Sweet Sixteen. Texas is not that good, but it's hard for me to see them losing in the first couple of rounds. Much like Texas, Cal and NC State play in overrated conferences and I jujst don't know if they are any good or not. My opinion is, they are not. But one of these teams has to make the Sweet Sixteen. So I'll pick Texas for lack of a better choice.

Sweet Sixteen:
Duke, Syracuse, West Virginia, Texas
Elite Eight:
Duke, West Virginia
Final Four:

I have UCONN beating Duke in the final 87-79

Now when it comes to Cinderella runs to the Sweet Sixteen or Elite Eight, it seems lightning doesn't strike twice. Bucknell, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Southern Illinois and even West Virginia have made surprising runs in the last couple of years, so it's harder for them now, because now people know. So who knows. But I feel UWM will make another run this year. Also look for Georgetown to surprise some people if they can get by Northern Iowa. Well that's how I see things, so I would pick against everything you read here.

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