In this year's installment of Gavel Media's tournament pick 'ems, editors Jake Miller, Teddy Kolva, Shannon Cogan and Robert Rossi break down their brackets for the world to see. With all the parity in the regular season, this March will feature an undeniably large amount of close games; last-second shots and buzzer-beaters will be abound. Will Shaka Smart and VCU make another run for the ages? Will Butler go to the Final Four once more? Find out what we think. Be enlightened.
Creighton is the black horse of this tournament. Do I think they’ll win and take home the hardware? Absolutely not. But I do think they could make some noise and send some teams home earlier than expected.
Butler makes a “surprise” run, but would this really be that unexpected? Given the teams Georgetown will have to face to make it out of the South, I could see Butler advancing to the finals.
Because of their magical, 2-loss season – and the fact that I live in Gonzaga on Upper – I have to give this one to Gonzaga. Their bench depth is formidable and time-tested. I just don’t see them seeing real competition until Louisville.
OK, so maybe I am going a little too far in picking VCU over Michigan in the second round. But honestly, this season has seen so much parity and exhilaration. I will not be the least bit surprised if a Cinderella Sleeper makes it's way into the Elite 8.
One thing I can say for sure is that Georgetown will go far. I caught the tail-end of the UCONN-Georgetown basketball game a few weeks ago on ESPN. Otto Porter single-handedly led the Hoyas back from a six-point deficit with a little over a minute to go against a respectable Big East opponent. Never have I seen someone take over a game with such grace and poise. That's actually a lie because Michael Jordan has done the aforementioned at least a dozen times--but you get my point.
Besides Georgetown being a sure-fire force in the tournament, I think Indiana will also come up strong in the East. Cody Zeller is a savage in the paint and Victor Oladipo will make shots until the sun rises.
Temple always gives better teams a run for their money (analogous to the Wisconsin Badgers, who, in losing to Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship, took the No.5 seed in the West bracket) and a Shaka Smart-led VCU team could very well turn some heads.
Going to the other side of the bracket, the game I picked with the greatest difference in seeding was No. 14 Harvard against No.3 New Mexico. As a witness to the early season slaughtering Hardy-Har-Harvard incurred on my sans-NIT Boston College Eagles, I can tell you that Tommy Amaker has his squad going in the right direction. This will only be a temporary fling, though; Arizona will send them crying back to Cambridge a few days later.
Call me unoriginal for filling my last four with No. 1 and 2 seeds, but I think that's how this year will roll. Kind of a buzzkill given the unpredictability of the last four or five weeks of college hoops.
I expect a lot of underestimated teams to come up big in the second round and the sweet sixteen, but I don't believe many will permeate into the heavens of Championship weekend in good ole Atlanta.
Ohio State makes it past a steadfast Louisville squad, but falls to Georgetown in the National Championship game.
Going with my gut for all choices and avoiding statistics or facts on basketball, these picks reflect the excitement of the chance that anyone could win on any given day for any reason. I claim no prior knowledge of anything besides a general familiarity with the best teams; therefore, my picks are the result of many different factors not relating to basketball in the least.
My rationale involved support for fellow Jesuits (Clearly God loves us, rep it, Pope Francis!), a distaste for any state that just officially ratified an amendment banning slavery, a new-found affinity for Tennessee as the home of Nashville and an enthusiasm for potentially cool places to travel.
Indiana loses right off the bat because they could be beaten by the Blackbirds ("Blackbird" is a favorite Beatles song) or the James Madison Dukes ( James Madison was the instrumental in writing the Bill of Rights and getting it passed- yay freedom from cruel and unusual punishment!) and I prefer either of those teams. Plus, my dad made me watch Hoosiers once and I was like mehhh.
Marquette takes Georgetown in the Final Four because Georgetown fronts like they have a really cool mascot, What could a Hoya be?! and then it turns out to be a dog, major letdown. Plus, Marquette is a fellow eagle, so solidarity with a fellow Jezzy eagle.
Why does Gonzaga go all the way? Well, I lived there freshman year and I had a good time, just like Jake. The university also counts Sherman Alexie and Bing Crosby as alums, so the West Coast Gonzaga must be a pretty darn cool place too.
Most other picks are the result of some serious reflection on what my gut said or the potential for a fun vacation.
March Madness brings out the absolute worst in me. I manically obsess over my bracket, make a bunch of idiotic picks, spend Thursday and Friday literally slapping myself in the face for not realizing how obvious it was which 10-seeds would upset which 7-seeds and then spend Saturday and Sunday crying. Basically, March Madness makes me feel how Biggie Smalls made Tupac Shakur feel.
So this is how we gon' do this. GOODBYE Rick Pitino (Elite Eight), GOODBYE Notre Dame (first round), GOODBYE Duke from my bracket, the tourney and national television in the Sweet 16. Actually if you wanna be down with Duke, GOODBYE to you too (like how I cleaned up the language there? Maybe I can talk about March Madness and not sound like Junior Soprano after all). Now, onto my Final Four picks.
Michigan State will knock off both Duke and Louisville. Why? Because the Spartans' coach is named Tom Izzo and I always pick dudes named after classic Jay-Z songs to make the Final Four (note: he's the only one).
Kansas will lose to VCU because every time I pick Kansas to make the Final Four they get bounced in the Sweet 16 or earlier - although every time I don't, they make the title game. However, I learned my lesson about picking 5-seeds to make the Final Four when I thought Kevin Durant's Texas team would do it in 2007 and the Longhorns lost in the first round, so we're rolling with straight Jesuit pride and putting the Georgetown Hoyas into the Final Four.
In the bottom-left region (the West? the East? Whatever), I'm going the anti-Jesuit pride route, knocking off Gonzaga in the Sweet 16, and pushing Ohio State into the Final Four. Why? Two reasons: one, Greg Oden and Jared Sullinger were two of my favorite college basketball players of all time and
won me a bunch of money when they each carried the Buckeyes to the promised land in the past when I picked them. And two, the Ohio State football team went undefeated and it should've been the Buckeyes stomping on Notre Dame's collective throats instead of Alabama.
By the way, if you pick Notre Dame to win a single game, just transfer.
And lastly, at first I filled this thing out and put Indiana as the champ because I spent St. Patrick's Day wearing a Larry Bird jersey, but then I was like, wait. I am a loyal Boston College student. And as a loyal SuperFan, I am obligated to pick the team that won BC's conference both in the regular season and in the end-of-year tourney, as well as the one that ended our Eagles' season. The one, the only, University of Miami Hurricanes. IT'S ALL ABOUT THIS U.
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