CVT Sports Columnist
By 5:30 Sunday, all the conference tournament games were finished and the field of 68 was presented to us, it was Selection Sunday. There were many questions on what se ed line Kentucky would be on that stretched from 1-3 going into the SEC tournament but after the dust settled in Nashville, Kentucky was your SEC champions for the third straight year, which gave us some answers. Kentucky was the number one seed in the SEC which meant they got the most byes and didn’t play until Friday and they would have to face the Georgia Bulldogs, who had previously tested the Cats twice. The Cats would handle the dawgs a little easier this time around and it was led by the great play of De ‘Aaron Fox. Fox would go on to lead the Cats to the championship game against Arkansas in which both him and Dominique Hawkins balled out. The fact that these two are turning it on right now is huge, especially since Malik Monk has struggled the past few games. Kentucky would go on to win the SEC championship, of course, in what was a very chipy game.
Then it was finally time to see where Kentucky would be seeded and where the Cats would play in the 2nd round. It would be revealed that Kentucky plays Northern Kentucky in Indianapolis in, once again, the universally agreed hardest bracket in the tournament. For Kentucky, just to reach the final four in this year’s March Madness they may have to play the like of UCLA, Wichita State, North Carolina, Butler, and a few other dangerous mid major schools. This does not bode well for the Cats, but after being a fan for so long I have come to the realization that Kentucky always gets the hardest region possible but Cal will always have guy prepared.
Now for my tournament predictions.
EAST: I have two upsets coming from the east and that’s providence over SMU and Baylor getting beat by New Mexico State. For my sleeper team, I have North Carolina Wilmington, due to the fact Virginia is reeling a bit and UNCW hung with Duke late into their 2nd round game last year. I have either Villanova or Duke coming from that region.
WEST: In the west, there is a potential for a lot of upsets, in the likes of Princeton, Bucknell, Xavier, and Florida Gulf Coast. Don’t be surprised to see some crazy games from this region. The sleeper team I’m riding with from this region is Xavier as I have them advancing all the way to the sweet sixteen just to get beat by Arizona. The few teams I have from this region is either Arizona, West Virginia, and Notre Dame. The one seed Gonzaga will lose in the sweet sixteen.
MIDWEST: This region is one of the harder regions to predict just because they have a lot of teams with a good pedigree in there, with the likes of Louisville, Oregon, Kansas, Michigan, Creighton, and a pre-season top 25 team in Rhode Island. But, I have Louisville either losing in the 2nd or 3rd, and my sleeper team is Rhode Island as I have them going to the sweet sixteen. My final four teams from this region are either Kansas or Michigan.
SOUTH; Now here’s the hard one, the south. There are many teams in here that could make deep runs, clearly, but my two biggest upsets are Middle Tennessee State over Minnesota (which is a given 12 beating 5 scenario) and Cincinnati over UCLA. My sleeper team is Butler and I have either North Carolina or the Cats going to Phoenix.
Be prepared for buzzer beaters and bracket busters, March Madness is here.