Nothing Against Syracuse But I Want The 3's And 4's
Joe Lunardi's most recent version of bracketology has me concerned.
I love the first weekend of March Madness. It is truly where all the action is. Drama. Upsets. Near misses. And four days of seemingly non-stop hoops.
Not only does Lunardi know who is in, he has the temerity to tell us where they are going to play as well.
This year I am heading to Buffalo for the first and second rounds and based on this past weekend's events, it is almost a certainty that Syracuse will be a number one seed and that they will be playing in Buffalo.
To be blunt, the Orange are about my eleventh favourite team in the Big East. Yes, they are impressive and yes they are deserving of a top seed. But I don't like them and I certainly don't want to watch them destroy Stony Brook or some other sacrificial lamb.
On the other hand, the other match-ups he has destined for the City of Light seem much more appealing. A West Virginia/Coastal Carolina game would be great solely based on the idea that the Mountaineers would fall behind by about 13 before mounting a big comeback and winning by seven. Richmond and Virginia Tech (are they really a lock?) would be interesting and, I think, would help showcase a very deep A-10. Florida State and UTEP? Another chance for a team from a lesser (but much improved in my eyes) conference to make a little noise.
Not so long ago, I was fortunate enough to witness two improbable upsets on the same day at Auburn Hills. The first, where the Northwestern State Demons hit a last second three to cap a 17-point comeback to beat three-seed Iowa was the first game of the day, maybe of the tournament. The second, where #13 seed, the upstart Bradley Braves, handled the young but extremely talented Kansas Jayhawks, was the final game of the day. The Braves went on to an equally impressive win over Pitt and Aaron Gray two days later.
Sandwiched in between at various venues around America were the usual casualties, as well as some too-close-for-comfort wins for the big boys, harbingers of what was to come.
Winners included Montana Grizzlies, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Bucknell (second year in a row for a first round win) and of course the mid-major darlings of all-time, the George Mason Patriots. Gone with Iowa and Kansas were Oklahoma, Michigan State and Nevada. North Carolina survived - barely - against Murray State while UConn looked vulnerable for most of the game, trailing by double digits in the second half before pulling out a win against the Albany Great Danes, who played with dogged determination (ignore that one if you want). Both would later become victims of the George Mason machine.
And this year, more than any I can remember, I want to see those three and four, and maybe even some two seeds play in the first round. The potential for upsets this season seems to be higher and it is those games that historically have provided the most intrigue. The success and fame for the 12 and 13 seeds is ephemeral but I want to be there to see it.
I am now rooting for Joe Lunardi to predict Syracuse to a coast, and, through some mysterious great fortune, for the selection committee to say, "Hey, Joe's right. Let's put Syracuse in Providence."
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