Tondo: The Bracket is Locked and Loaded. The 2023 Tournament Preview and Predictions
Aaaanndddd hereeee weeee goooo! Happy March, folks! Between work, your friends, and the internet, you'll probably be seeing a billion brackets, but that's what it's all about. This truly is a special time. You don't have to be a fan to appreciate this tournament, and you don't have to follow the sport all year to instantly fall in love with the games. This is the Big Dance and we are ready to enjoy!
We've mentioned this before on streams, blogs, and pods; the more we follow the sport, the less we know (ironically enough). I've had spectacular brackets as a total casual, and I have had trash ones as a religious follower. This truly is beyond the KenPom numbers, this is luck and grit.
So I present you with my bracket, and I will be riding the tide this month. Below is a breakdown of how I made some of my decisions.
As John Rothstein says (and please unblock us), "We Sleep in May"...
No. 9 West Virginia over No. 8 Maryland
No. 9 Auburn over No 8. Iowa
No. 10 USC over No. 7 Michigan State
No. 11 NC State over No. 6 Creighton
No. 11 Providence over No. 6 Kentucky
No. 11 Arizona State over No. 6 TCU
No. 11 Pitt over No. 6 Iowa State
No. 12 Charleston over No. 5 San Diego State
No. 12 Drake over No. 5 Miami
No. 13 Furman over No. 4 Virginia
I don't know how I got here, but I have all 11's moving on from the first round. It hasn't happened since 1989, and closest was in 2016 and 17, where three of the four advanced. Bold? Yes, but I love it.
I am a Providence homer, and although I think this might be the one that screws me, I just had a feeling when Coach Cal saw that they were playing his old recruit, he was nervous. Arizona State and Pitt both impressed me in the play in, and they are coming in with heavy momentum.
In terms of Charleston and Drake, since 1985, there have been 55 upsets of No. 5 seeds. Miami has lost me after their sloppy play the past few weeks, and Charleston has been a team of destiny.
I am riding the highs of Huggins and Pearl, also Auburn essentially has a home game playing in their state.
All in all, am I confident in these picks? Absolutely not, but I am riding them. To take it a step further, I have Duke all the way to the final four as a five seed, Providence in the Sweet 16 at an 11, and Texas A&M upsetting Texas to get to the elite 8 as a 7 seed. The Madness Baby!
The Final Four
Alabama vs. Duke and Houston vs. Gonzaga
Duke is coming into this tournament full steam ahead. The Blue Devils and Jon Scheyer can be a scary team, but I have to give the advantage to Bama. Nate Oats has done it all season long, what's stopping him now?
I think the same goes for Gonzaga. They had a front loaded heavy schedule, and proved doubters wrong come the end of the season. Mark Few and Drew Timme are tenured March competitors, and they should be able to carry themselves here. However, what Kelvin Sampson and the Cougars accomplished this season is truly remarkable. Houston was ranked in the top five of the Associated Press Top 25 poll all season long. They swept the awards in the American Athletic, and they are a force to be reckon with, almost a team of destiny.
It's a chalk pick, two number ones, I know, but I couldn't get past it. These two teams are legit. I was stuck on this pick for a while, and to be honest, I flipped a coin. Can't overthink this one, just go with random odds.
But this pick is also backed by some facts. Brandon Miller is one of the best players in the SEC, the tournament, and all of College Hoops.
13-5 in Q1 wins, undefeated in Q2-4. 2nd in NET, 3 in KenPom, and posses one of the best offenses and defenses on the court. They have the depth, they have the coaching, they have what it takes.
BONUS: The lovely, Ms. Paige, has submitted her bracket.
Duke vs. UConn in the Championship!