Keith’s Carolina BBQ – March Madness Breakdown

By: Keith Hartley

Anyone that watches college basketball as much as the guys do here on Medium Rare Basketball will have a strategy when it comes to filling out brackets. You’ll have some that go the sabermetric route and try to crunch the numbers to understand every detail in each game. This used to be me. I just could not do it anymore. I think there was a 5-year span starting in my sophomore AP statistics class where I thought I was smarter than everyone and could totally beat the system if I just knew enough.

Each year, I would end up finishing somewhere in the upper 10-25% of individuals in the pool but never high enough to win. It would always be Nick’s cousin who won and I knew for a fact she was a bandwagon UK fan that didn’t even watch more than a handful of their games let alone any other team. After that 5-year period I made an interesting discovery/correlation from my decade-plus of playing golf, my performance and enjoyment in equal parts are conversely related to how much I give an F about my performance or enjoyment.

Translation, stop caring so much and you’ll play better and enjoy it more. I give you this story to preface what could be an utterly ridiculous bracket to some and you and your numbers and stats might be able to shred it apart but guess what, I COULD NOT CARE LESS. I’m just gonna go on watching a sport I love at it’s absolute purest and most exciting form.

And now even though I don’t care and don’t put literally any analysis into this except my own feelings and thoughts from watching CBB all year, here is my very amateurish breakdown of each section.

South

The selection committee really did no favors here for Virginia as this location is loaded with talent top to bottom. I have two big upsets here with Loyola meeting Wright St and Loyola moving on to the Sweet 16. A second-round matchup of Zona v UK is a monster matchup and one I’ll certainly be tuning into. Come Elite 8 though and I went chalk with UVA topping Cinci in what will likely be a very tight matchup to push through to the Final Four.

West

Cupcake topside bracket for Xavier and I still don’t think they’re gonna get past the Zags. Bottom side is a much tougher road for our beloved Tar Heels but I still think they push through a tricky game against Providence and hope that Michigan’s magic has run out and that Cam Johnson is fully back by the second weekend. Ultimately we get a great rematch of last year’s championship game with about the same result.

East

Top to bottom, I think this is the weakest quarter of the whole bracket and it’s not even really that close. However, with that said, it could also play out to the be wildest in terms of unpredictability. I have WV using momentum of beating a tough Wichita St team to upset top seed Villanova (I’m thinking this one might go to OT). And on the bottom side, we have our Cinderella in SF Austin getting through Tech and past Florida but eventually succumbing to Purdue. After an emotional win for WV, they have little left in the tank to outgun a really solid Purdue team which might be the one of the least picked final four teams out of the 1/2 seeds in this tourney.

Midwest

Well we all know Kansas is going to lose to someone before the Final Four so who is it this year? Drumrolllllllll……. AUBURN!!! Wait really? That football school? Yeah sure, why not. Again this is me not caring and just going on my gut (sorry Chris). I was also really really tempted to have dook lose against Rhode Island because that would just make me so happy inside but it’s quite hard to imagine with Bagley and Carter in the paint. However, you don’t have to strain very hard to see them losing to MSU, which leads to an unlikely elite 8 matchup of Auburn v MSU and I think we all know who’s going to win that.

Final Four

Well, I just figured out now that this is ACC v Big Ten final four which is kinda weird but could also be really cool given the built-in rivalries here. I still think UVA’s stifling defense is going to eventually be too much for UNC to overcome. On the other side, I think Izzo having his most purely talented team is eventually going to win out over Purdue’s balance and depth. This all leads up to what might not be the most visually exciting championship matchup but for the real college basketball fans, this one would be a doozy. To see the soon to be NBA talents of Bridges and Jackson face off against Tony Bennett’s best, most well-rounded team would be a game for the ages. Also the strategery (yeah that’s a real word… I think) battle between Izzo and Bennett would be one of the most intriguing in-game chess games possible in the CBB landscape. Ultimately I think UVA still wins out and captures their school’s first-ever national championship in basketball and doing all of this with losing Hunter for the tourney would be an absolutely incredible feat.

Well there you have it folks, my March Madness breakdown is complete. You may commence in the ceremonial drinking and spewing of the haterade as I will be pleasantly watching great basketball without a care in the world for how my bracket does.

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