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The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

Breaking Down the 2016 March Madness

Breaking Down the 2016 March Madness

Photo courtesy of Frank Gruber

If you ask me which team I’m picking this year, I’m going to tell you “the field”.  This college basketball regular season has been crazy all year to say the least; massive upsets, epic games, NO headline favorites heading into the NCAA’s, every team can be beat.  So when Selection Sunday occurred when the entire bracket was released, there was a wide-range of emotions that occurred with fans all across the country.

Firstly, why is the selection show two hours long?  I remember when it was under an hour to release the bracket.  Now it’s “Let’s release one section of the bracket, jam seven commercials in, then dissect and pick the bracket before proceeding to another five commercials.” The whole drawn-out process of the entire show is absurd. I don’t need to know who some TV schmuck is picking before I make up my mind on my own bracket, just release the bracket, then get off the TV.

That being said, I did watch the entire announcement process and saw that there were many snubs in this year’s tournament; Monnmouth, St. Mary’s and South Carolina should have all gotten in. I’ve watched Syracuse basketball all season, they only got in because of Coach Beoheim. They do not deserve to be in the tournament field.  Tulsa was a selection straight out of left field, they have no business even being around the NCAA tournament, let alone participating in it.


As for the actual Bracket:


The South region :

This is one of the two toughest brackets to pick.  Everyone’s on the Kansas bandwagon (as they should be) but that’s concerning for me.  They have a real shot at winning it all, but with the uniformity of everyone picking them it’s dangerous if they lose early-on. I’m not very high on Villanova, they’ve lost to Oklahoma by 23 and haven’t faced stiff competition all season long. I feel like if Miami (FL) and Villanova meet in the Sweet-16, then that game instantly becomes must-see TV. Local favorite Maryland is far too inconsistent to make any real damage in the tournament.  My upset pick in this region: Witichita State beating Vanderbilt in the “First 4 game,” followed by  Witchita State defeating Arizona. Look for Miami (FL) to make a run at the Elite 8 and maybe even the Final 4.

The West region:

This region can be caterogized  based off of one simple question: “How good it Oregon?” On paper they’re the 1-seed; they have achieved quality wins all season, and won their conference. The issue is people east of the Mississippi haven’t seen them actually play.  Oklahoma lives and dies by the 3, risky if they don’t make their shots.  If they are cold shooting, they might be out earlier than expected.  Duke will probably choke again (they usually do) and a possible rematch between Texas and Texas A&M will highlight traditional rivalries that have fallen by the wayside.  I’m looking at Baylor possibly making the Elite 8 if Oregon looses to St. Joseph’s in Round 2.  Northern Iowa is probably the consensus upset pick in this region.

The East region :

This is most likely the most difficult field to predict.  North Carolina is a heavy championship favorite, a low-risk low-reward pick if you’re trying to win your local bracket pool.  Providence is led by arguably the best point guard in the country, Xavier might be the best team nobody talks about, and Indiana has Yogi Farrell and all of his senior magic.  Kentucky’s young kids are talented, but can they survive when the pressure’s on?  Chattanooga is a likeable upset pick (They’re pretty good for a mid-major).  Notre Dame’s looking for payback from getting demolished, blown out, and embarrassed in the ACC tournament, while West Virginia’s hoping their press isn’t broken by their opposition.  I’ve got a feeling if madness were to ensue, this would be the region where it occurs.

The Midwest region:

Can Virginia FINALLY live up to the hype?  They’re a sneaky favorite to win the championship, and Malcom Brogdon is the real deal.  You might as well pencil Michigan State in the Elite 8 at the minimum, maybe even the Final 4.  That’s only based on Tom Izzzo being the coach, as his experience is vital come March.  The other main storyline is Syracuse sneaking into the tournament in this region.  People are high on Seton Hall, picking them to go far.  But can they beat the big boys?  I like Butler and Purdue to make Virginia’s ride to the Elite 8 murder’s row.  Utah might beat some teams, but how good are they?  They lost to Oregon three times (yikes) and got shelled by Miami (FL) by 24.

The bottom line is it’s March.  Betting is in the air, prizes are on the line, and bragging rights will determine friendships for the next month with the tournament beginning of St. Patrick’s Day.  My prediction is there are either going to upsets all over the place, or it will be a pretty straight-forward tournament; there will be no middle ground this year.  Good luck, you’re going to need it this year.

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Breaking Down the 2016 March Madness