I was sitting at my computer Sunday night about 6:15 p.m., updating my bracket when the third game was announced, pitting fifth-seeded Oklahoma State against 12th-seeded Oregon.
Oregon a No. 12 seed???
You have to be kidding me.
Not that I’m some big fan of Ducks basketball. Any team with a home floor design like the one Oregon sprung on us actually ought to be punished in some way (look it up online, just avoid staring at it too long because it could blur your vision for life).
But here’s a team that went 26-8 this year, finished second in the Pac-12 during the regular season, beat Arizona (a sixth seed) once, and beat UCLA (also a sixth seed despite losing a key player to a broken foot on the final play of the Pac-12 championship game) on two occasions, including the conference title game.
And they’re a No. 12 seed???
I’ll give ESPN Bracketology guru Joe Lunardi his due. Lunardi correctly picked each one of the 68 teams in this year’s tournament, and of the 68 teams in the field, he was within two seeding spots either way on 67 of them.
The one he missed on? Oregon, of course.
All season long we’ve heard talk of parity in college basketball. About how so many teams lost games when they were ranked No. 1 in the country. About how this year’s tournament will be an honest-to-God crapshoot. About how anyone can win this year.
Sure, we could see another Butler or Virginia Commonwealth or George Mason or some other lower seed make a Cinderella run. Heck, the Pac-12 and SEC Tournament champions (Oregon and Mississippi) are both No. 12 seeds. But picking a team like that to win it all?
Since the NCAA Men’s Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, only two teams lower than a No. 4 seed has won it all — No. 6 seed Kansas in 1988 and No. 8 seed Villanova in 1985. You want to go all in with a long shot? Great. Hope it works out for you.
March Madness is all about trends, so here’s the biggest trend of all: if you want to have a shot to win your office pool (not that anyone would even consider wagering on the tournament), go with the favorites.
According to the numbers put together by Bill Bender of Fantasy Source, 17 of the 28 tournament champions since 1985 have been No. 1 seeds. Top-seeded teams have won the tournament 61 percent of the time in that span compared to 14 percent for No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, and No. 1 seeds have made the title game 48 percent of the time, the same amount as No. 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 seeds combined since 1985.
Just something to think about while you painstakingly fill out your 32 different brackets.
As for my bracket, it’s going to look something like this:
Using the previously stated numbers as a guide, and knowing that it takes a six-game winning streak to cut down the nets, we can go ahead and rule out any team that isn’t a top-three seed. Seriously, look at everyone seeded fourth or lower and try to convince yourself they can win six in a row. You can’t.
That leaves me with just 12 teams who I think are capable of winning it all, and here’s how I think it shakes down.
In the Midwest Region, Big East champion Louisville will beat Duke to punch their ticket to the Final Four, while in the South, Kansas — finally looking like they are putting it all together at the right time — handles Georgetown to move on to Atlanta.
In the East Region, Indiana survives North Carolina State and UNLV before falling to Miami in the final, while out West, Gonzaga will earn a trip to its first-ever Final Four after edging Ohio State. (Bonus pick: Twitter fries its circuits after 38 million “See! We told you the Big Ten was overrated” tweets come in following losses by the Hooisers and Buckeyes.)
In Atlanta, I’ll take Miami to knock off Louisville and Kansas to send Gonzaga packing before the Jayhawks beat the ACC champs in what should be a fantastic national title game.
Scott Herpst is Sports Editor of the Walker County Messenger.
Editor's Note: After looking back at my brackets, I realized that my Final Four picks are wrong due to the fact that I apparently can't read a bracket correctly. Therefore, let me amend the final paragraph.
I believe Kansas will beat Miami in one semfinal game in Atlanta, while Louisville takes out Gonzaga in the other. Kansas will then win the National Championship with a narrow win over Louisville. My apologies.