Now's the time of year we hear all this talk from analysts and fans alike trying to preview the college basketball at its most intriguing point: March Madness.
Thousands of people around the world are predicting their brackets for a chance to win the big bucks or the new 2011 car; right now as you read this someone is pondering on who they should advance in their bracket. And whenever they decide, it's a prediction.
So, with that being said, what's the best things to predict this March? Who is going to be upset? Who is going to the Final Four?
Here, I give you 50 predictions for this year's 2010 NCAA Tournament.
Some you will agree with, others you will not; Some you will find humorous, others you will find yourself clueless. Either way, they are predictions!
* I would like to thank my friend Joe Piazza for assisting me in these predictions. You can find him on BR as well. Search Joe Piazza.
Everyone knows the Midwest Region is the toughest region to play in this year, and whoever comes out of it will have definitely earned all those wins.
Teams like Kansas, Ohio State, Georgetown, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, and even Georgia Tech are lurking in this region. With that kind of firepower, anything could happen.
But the winner of this region goes on to be crowned champions.
Since returning from injury, Notre Dame big man Luke Harangody has been coming off the bench. Mike Brey said, "He's been in a good groove coming off the bench for us lately."
And Brey is correct, but I think he comes to his senses and notices that if he wants to go deep, he will have to start Harangody.
If the Irish advance past the First Round, watch for Luke Harangody in the starting lineup the rest of the way.
Tony Barbee's team has a good chance to make a run to the Sweet 16, and I sure believe they can.
In their first game, the Miners play Butler, who doesn't match up very well with them. Matt Howard is about the only post presence Butler has, and UTEP should be able to take advantage of it.
If they advance, the probable matchup will be against Vanderbilt. I just don't think Vandy can handle UTEP, especially with them being so hot.
Watch for the UTEP Miners in the second weekend of play.
Siena is now a team that is accustomed to being in the Big Dance, and I think they will continue to upset this year.
Purdue is still searching for ways to score points without their leading scorer and team captain, Robbie Hummel. They just don't seem to be the same team without him.
Siena has a nice mixture of speed and size that should give the Boilermakers trouble.
Advance Siena in your brackets.
As fans, we hardly ever see this picture above from West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. It's usually the same 'ol windbreaker every game.
Well, I think that will change soon. Since his team has a very good chance to advance to the Final Four, don't be surprised if Huggy Bear breaks out the suit above or even wears a tie.
He'll start dressing for the occasion to impress people around the country.
On Selection Sunday, Dick Vitale wasn't the happiest camper in the world. He made an argument for Virginia Tech to get in over Wake Forest and about blew his top off.
I have to say, I like seeing him getting mad and/or excited, and thank goodness because I don't think that will be the last time we see him upset this year.
No telling what will happen to ruffle Dickie V's feathers this time, but I sure hope I'm around to see it!
I'm sure most of you are thinking I'm crazy about this one, but I'm dead serious. As a Georgetown fan, I know their tendencies this season.
With that being said, I (along with many other Hoya fans) have seen the team play to the level of their opponents and somehow find a way to lose. For example take a look at the Rutgers game. Terrible.
They may be hot right now, but I don't see their tendencies changing this season. Don't be surprised if Ohio plays a close game against Georgetown.
Bruce Pearl has been known to pump up his team and the fans of Tennessee by wearing his orange blazer, and don't be surprised to see that done this tournament.
Traditionally, it is only worn against Vandy or Kentucky, but watch for the tradition to take a slight turn.
He'll need to pump everybody up as much as he can this season.
Barack Obama has filled out yet another bracket. Last year, he correctly picked North Carolina to win it all, then again it was his favorite team.
In his Final Four, he has Kansas and Kansas State, along with Kentucky and Villanova. At least two of those should make the Final Four.
He may not be able to persuade the BCS yet, but perhaps he can persuade the tournament officials. Could he get the perfect bracket?
Right now there is no telling how many people are tweaking their bracket picks or pondering on who should win a game, and why not? If you predict correct, you win all that money or car.
Unfortunately for me and you, no one will predict all the games correctly and win the nice 2011 car.
All you will win will be is the congratulations of your fellow group members (If you win the group, that is).Otherwise, you get nothing.
Sorry fans, I don't see this happening this season. Like the Cubbies, "Wait 'til Next Year!"
Yes, I predict he attends a game, even without his North Carolina Tar Heels making the tournament, nor his son's Illinois team making it.
So why will he be there?
Because he is MJ. Enough said.
Like Bruce Pearl, when the stage is big, don't be surprised to see Louisville coach Rick Pitino to break out the exquisite accessories, aka his white suit or red blazer.
Heck, the red blazer worked against Syracuse, why not keep wearing it? I sure would!
We've seen our share of bad free throw shooting teams and players; even the best players in the world can be terrible from the charity stripe. Just ask Shaquille O'Neal.
Anyway, we always see a couple of teams that hover around the 50 percent range from the line, but this year, I think we see terrible numbers from the line by one team, if not more.
Who knows, this could be the difference in a First Round loss and the Final Four.
It could happen during a tight game or a game where the losing team is frustrated. The mascots will have their adrenaline pumping and all it only takes is one foam-headed moron to get it started.
Some interesting fights would be New Mexico State’s Pistol Pete vs. Sparty the Spartan, the Clemson Tiger vs. the Missouri Tiger, Utah State’s Big Blue Bull vs. the Louisville Cardinal, and the Notre Dame Leprechaun vs. anybody.
Out of the four teams from the Mountain West Conference, we may only see New Mexico advance out of the first round. While all of the other teams are great, they probably got hit with some of the unluckiest first round matchups.
UNLV is playing Northern Iowa in a 8/9 matchup and Northern Iowa was expected by many to be the higher seed between the two. This one could come down to the wire and I wouldn’t be surprised if we witness the tournament’s first overtime game or buzzer beater here.
Brigham Young has not advanced out of the first round since 1992 and they may still have to wait. Florida is a tough squad to hang around with and could cause trouble. We are not saying BYU will lose, but it is a definite possibility.
San Diego State got shafted twice by the committee, not to mention some other things that are too profane.
Firstly they were seeded 11th but they won the Mountain West and have a better résumé than UNLV who they beat in the finals.
To make matters worse, they play a Tennessee team seeded sixth that beat Kansas and Kentucky and many argue that they should have been a four seed.
SDSU has one of the toughest roads of the tournament likely having to play four championship favorites just to get to Indianapolis: Tennessee, Georgetown, Ohio State, and Kansas.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff had a convincing win over the favourite in the play-in game, Winthrop.
In a bold, or maybe not so bold prediction as recent history has shown, Arkansas-Pine Bluff will lose in the last couple of minutes, perhaps with a buzzer beater.
The stigma of the NIT is a hard one to hold, but some players and coaches from tournament bubble teams that win the NIT just have to publicly say that they got snubbed from the big dance for a less deserving team.
They cannot just take the win and be happy for themselves. No, they will play the victim and shame the NIT. They never think that the NIT is a tournament for the best of the rest.
In no way does the NIT prove that you were better than a tournament team that got knocked out in the first round. We will never know, plain and simple.
Let’s rephrase that.
Steve Alford will discipline an opposing player.
He is a bit of a hot head and he did it earlier in the season to BYU’s Jonathan Tavernari after the game. A Washington player may be his most likely victim, ahem, student; just something about good old-fashioned western camaraderie.
This is one of a host’s and tournament’s biggest nightmares. There is nothing worse than delaying a game on a tight schedule, especially when network television is involved.
The most likely culprit would be a power failure. However there could be a ventilation problem, a roof could leak or the fire alarm could go off, whether there is really a fire or it is a prank.
The best part of March Madness, or any basketball game, is the close finishes. You can’t get any closer than the buzzer beater.
Whether it is to win the game or send it to another frame, it is always the most exciting play possible. Fans of both teams are glued to the game, all their hearts skip a beat simultaneously, and in a fraction of a second it is over.
One group is riding a high they won’t ever forget, while the other is in the deepest of lows for being so close and failing.
This year will be no exception and expect at least five buzzer beaters. Pay attention to UNLV vs. Northern Iowa for a great chance at the first one.
Cal may not be considered an elite program this year, but they are definitely great when they are playing well. However, that is the problem.
They are streaky. You can’t get much streakier than a team in the Pac-10 this season. However, they do match up well against Louisville and could come out on top.
They could also beat Duke, who never seems to be able to withstand the tournament pressure as of late.
As said, they are a streaky team and if they get that far, that is probably as far as they get in this tournament.
Many consider Kansas State and not Syracuse to be the favorite in the West Region.
They should get by their first game, and then BYU or Florida, and anyone in Pitt’s pod, and then win in epic fashion over Syracuse.
As I side note there could be four Big East vs. Big 12 matchups in the Elite Eight.
In saying that, that could mean…
Besides Ohio State, there is no team that is truly expected to make the Elite Eight. Let’s run down all the teams.
First, Ohio State is in what appears to be the toughest bracket. They likely have to play Oklahoma State/Georgia Tech, and Georgetown/Tennessee. Neither matchup will be easy.
Michigan State is in the same region and they have a tough road as well. New Mexico State won’t be a cakewalk and they will have immense trouble getting by Maryland and Kansas.
Wisconsin has a decent chance but they need to get past Temple or Cornell and then Kentucky, Texas or Wake Forest. Not an easy feat but perhaps slightly less difficult than Michigan State’s.
Purdue is a different story. On paper they are not in a difficult pod, but with their unimpressive play without Hummel, they will have to pull off a lot to get to the Elite Eight.
Minnesota is an 11 seed and is not expected to get by Xavier. If they do, it will be a great achievement, as well as if they can get past Pittsburgh and Kansas State.
Commentators are all over him, praising him for being the greatest player this year. It gets tiring hearing the same thing every time.
They will go a step further and they will talk about him when Ohio State is not even playing; they will even bring up that buzzer beater over Michigan at least three times.
Oh, did I mention they will call him the greatest ever each time he is on screen?
When the games are bigger and tighter and the ball is loose near the sideline, that usually means one thing: the closest player is going to dive out of bounds to save a possession and likely crash into a table, computer, or another person.
Some one will get injured, likely from falling off their chair or getting kneed in the head or body... Or worse.
This one is something all fans of opposing teams would love to see (and secretly some Maryland fans as well).
The giant tortoise looks so off balance it is only a matter of time before something or someone causes it to lose its balance and fall flat on its back.
There should be a betting pool for how long it takes for it to get up and whether it is assisted or not. Put me down for 10 seconds unassisted!
It happened with Kentucky at South Carolina, as well as the more memorable incident at the Backyard Brawl where West Virginia fans threw garbage on the court and it hit Pitt’s assistant coach.
WVU was charged with a technical foul and Coach Huggins publicly called his fans stupid.
There may not be any home court games this time, but don’t be surprised if some fans get frustrated at the players or refs and get stupid as well.
Perhaps this foreshadows garbage being thrown if Kentucky and West Virginia meet.
It happened in the World Series two years ago when A-Rod was talking about his contract and it could happen during the Final Four.
The most likely story will be that of Tiger Woods playing in the Masters. There could also be an MLB player busted for using performance enhancing drugs or sadly a player in the NHL gets mortally wounded or disabled among other headlines.
Possibly the worst that could possibly happen is the referees blowing a call at the end of the game and handing the win to the wrong team.
The victim loses their legitimate shot at a title and the winner will have any subsequent wins, or championship, tainted.
It could be a questionable call like the difference between a block and a charge; or it could be missing a blatant foul; or starting the game clock before the ball is touched on the inbound.
What it will probably be is a player stepping out of bounds and it not getting called or the wrong team getting possession when the ball falls out of bounds.
We wouldn’t be surprised if it happens twice.
Don't we love the guys in the striped shirts?
Cornell will be among the most selected underdogs to advance out of the first round and even go deeper in the tournament.
Many look back at their common opponent, Kansas. Kansas squeaked past Cornell but demolished Temple; don’t let those results fool you though.
Temple is a powerful team that had a bad game, and Cornell had one of their best games ever against a Kansas team that was looking ahead to Tennessee, as well as still living off the high of their win over Temple.
Temple won’t let Cornell stay in it for long. Watch for Temple to win by at least 15.
It happened in 2006 when UCLA knocked off Gonzaga. Near the end of the game Farmar stole the ball and passed it to Mbah a Moute. Gus Johnson couldn’t pronounce his name quick enough and simply called him “the freshman”.
Possible players that this could happen to this year include Gonzaga’s Chris Pontarolo-Maag “the senior,” Georgetown’s Nikita Mescheriakov “the junior,” and Northern Iowa’s Ali Farokhmanesh “the senior.”
Don’t be shocked to find three Big East or three Big 12 teams in the Final Four. These are the two top conferences this year and most of their representatives have legitimate shots.
In the Big East you could easily see #1 Syracuse, #2 West Virginia and #2 Villanova. Sleeper: #3 Georgetown. They have a difficult road, likely having to go through Tennessee, Ohio State, and Kansas.
In the Big 12 we could have #1 Kansas, #2 Kansas State and #3 Baylor. Sleeper: #8 Texas. If they get hot they could get past Wake Forest, Kentucky, and whoever else the meet.
Don’t be surprised if #3 Pittsburgh makes the final four instead of Syracuse or Kansas State, or if #5 Texas A&M makes it ahead of Villanova or Baylor.
Don’t be foolish and knock off Kansas before the Elite Eight. Yes, this is mostly directed at those thousands of Spartan faithful.
Lehigh and UNLV/Northern Iowa should be a cakewalk. After that, the only worry they should have is if they meet Maryland, and even then they have too much talent all around to be out-played by a one-man team.
Baylor is an interesting case.
They appear to have a favorable route to the Final Four, but all their likely opponents have the ability to step up and beat them.
In their Second Round matchup vs. Notre Dame or Old Dominion it may appear to be a sexy upset pick that could very well happen, but Notre Dame is a streaky team that was probably over-seeded and ODU may just be outclassed.
In the Sweet Sixteen it would be tough to count out Baylor vs. Richmond, St. Mary’s or Villanova.
In the Elite Eight, there is a good chance that Baylor does not play Duke, and thus be the favorite. Even if they play Duke you can still see the Bears edge one out.
Evan Turner will be remembered this tournament, no doubt.
Will it be for his dominance?
Possibly. However, here's an even better idea:
He will be remebered because he will get dunked on huge. Who will it be? Cole Aldrich? Greg Monroe is the prime candidate. If they meet, put your money on it happening.
It is not difficult to fathom all four No. 1 seeds losing before the Final Four.
In the Midwest, Kansas could meet Georgetown, Ohio State, Tennessee or Oklahoma State in the Elite Eight. Kansas’s two losses this season came to the hands of Tennessee and Oklahoma State.
Syracuse could have the most difficult matchups of any of the No. 1 seeds in each round out West. Vermont is a cupcake, but likely the most dangerous No. 16.
Gonzaga and Florida State are both dangerous and probably under-seeded. Butler or Vanderbilt could prove troublesome, and Kansas State or Pitt spells trouble.
In the East, Kentucky could have trouble as soon as the Second Round against Texas or Wake Forest. Texas matches up especially well if they stay consistent.
Temple or Wisconsin would also be a difficult game and they wouldn’t be much of a favorite against New Mexico or West Virginia.
Duke appears to have the easiest path after Kansas down South. However, first we must remember that they are Duke and they always play close games in March.
In all seriousness, California would be a dark horse and Louisville defeated Syracuse twice.
Any of the teams in the pod involving Texas A&M, Utah State, Purdue and Siena could give them a good game, and I could see anyone in the bottom half of the bracket besides Sam Houston State and Robert Morris beating them.
The Musketeers suit up in the bottom half of the West Region, and they very well could do some damage and make a deep run this March.
If they can get past Pitt in their Second Round matchup, they could be home free until they will probably play Kansas State in the Sweet 16.
Now that is another story...
A coach or player could get in trouble at halftime for tweeting.
According to the NCAA, any type of chatter back and forth via @replies that can be viewed in the public domain is not allowed.
However, direct messaging on Twitter, which can only be viewed by the two people involved in the communicating, is permissible.
With that being said, expect someone to misinterpret the rules, post a public message, and get reprimanded.
Don't be surprised if Melo makes a surprise appearance out West when the Orange play. Many may not be happy with Syracuse going out West, but it helps Carmelo's chances of attending a game.
What else is there to do on an off day in the NBA?
This game could easily be one of the best games we see in the tournament, and here's why:
Georgetown has been on a roll as of late, disregarding their recent loss in the Big East Championship game. Everything has started to click together just at the right time.
Tennessee has shown up for the big games so far this season. just ask Kentucky and Kansas. Could they add another power to their list?
No, I'm not crazy. This could indeed happen. Just look at Richmond and Old Dominion's road to the Elite Eight:
Richmond has to get through St. Mary's and Villanova/Robert Morris, both of which are very winnable games. Richmond has the talent to get to the Elite Eight, if not the Final Four.
Old Dominion is really running under the radar, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them beat both Notre Dame and Baylor/Sam Houston State. They can beat the bigger schools; they've done so this season.
We see this every year: a Cinderella.
Mix that with the recent coaching firings, and I think we could see a quick hire by a bigger school if a coach suddenly does well in the tournament.
A name that really sticks out to me is UTEP's Tony Barbee, but I don't consider Conference-USA a mid-major. Nevertheless, it could happen.
You shouldn't be surprised with this one. I mean, just look at the Georgia Tech team, who has also took down Duke earlier in the year.
The Yellow Jackets have plenty of athletes to go around and they can easily shut down Evan Turner. What will Thad Matta do then?
I predict we will see all of that soon.
Yes, that means Georgia Tech shuts down Turner and beat the Buckeyes.
Funny, sad, and true is all wrapped in this one.
We know it's possible to see student-athletes get out of control, and it just so happens that Tyler Smith and the Tennessee Vols are the most recent victims.
Will a Vol be arrested?
It's possible, but don't be surprised if other players from different teams are arrested.
So, college basketball fans and historians, you know what that means!
A rematch between two of the most hallowed programs in all of sports, Duke and Kentucky.
If this does happen, it will have a lot to live up to. Will we see another great buzzer beater to bolt one team to the championship game?
It's possible. So, why not?
Sorry Kentucky faithful, the whole team won't be doing the famous John Wall Dance. You know what that means right?
You may recall Coach Calipari saying that if they won the tournament, then they would all do the John Wall Dance. Well....
The Wildcats WILL NOT win the NCAA Tournament. Sorry!
This could really happen.
An excited underdog could blatantly rub it in Kentucky's face and do John Wall's own dance. How bad that would make Kentucky feel!
Glad that's not my team there.
So, who will that masked fiend of a team be?
Should be very interesting to see who it turns out being.
By now, you're probably thinking I'm a Kentucky hater; however, I'm not. It's just how the cookie crumbles, Kentucky fans.
To prove my point, check out Kentucky's bracket:
Once they get by East Tennessee State, they have to play either Wake Forest or Texas, both capable of beating them.
Wake Forest has a great young group of athletes that matchup very well with the Wildcats.
And don't forget that Texas once was the top team in the nation this season. They can pull an upset. The pieces are definitely there in Pittman, Bradley, and James.
Ashley Judd, you have indeed became a trademark for Kentucky basketball, but this is no Cinderella story. You won't see your Cats win a championship.
What will make it worse is that you, along with millions of fans all over the world, will cry and mourn the loss of not only 2010 Tournament Title hopes, but you will also mourn the loss of John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins as they play their last game in Kentucky blue.
Bye-bye to those two guys, as they set their sights on the NBA Draft Lottery in June.
With the Big 12 being a top conference in basketball this season, we may see something like a Big 12 football game in the 2010 Championship Game.
Both teams in the game will play hard on the offensive end of the floor and make dazzling play after dazzling play; a dunk here, a dunk there; even add a no-look pass every possession; everything will be quite flashy.
And for the defense, it will be nonexistent.
Expect around the 200-point mark, but you can give or take a few.
These Big 12 schools know how to play in a shootout!