It’s official; 68 teams with 68 dreams have filled the dance card. All the usual suspects except last year’s champs Kentucky are ready to go. Louisville, Kansas, Indiana and Gonzaga come in as the number one seeds. The bottom of the bracket includes Cinderella’s Liberty, Florida Gulf Coast, LIU and Middle Tennessee State hoping to capture the hearts of basketball fans everywhere by pulling off a big upset. One thing is certain; it has been a crazy year in college basketball.
In the course of a month during mid-January four different teams occupied the top spot. Number one teams dropped like flies. The once mighty ACC has only four teams in the Dance while mid-majors like the WAC and Atlantic 10 have five each. It’s almost impossible to listen to basketball pundits make their predictions without hearing “parity” and they’re right. Who woulda thunk it?
Trying to make predictions with this field? Heck, a monkey flinging poo at his bracket sheet is as likely to hit as many winners as Dick Vitale. But why should that stop us? Here are Man Cave Gadget’s five forecasts for the 2013 NCAA tourney.
5. Biggest Upset
Since 1985 when the tournament expanded from 53 to 64 teams, a 16 seed has never beaten a first seed. Every year we wait for it but it never happens. It almost happened in 1989, not once, but twice. Ask Oklahoma and Georgetown but don’t hold your breath waiting for it to happen this year. Last year we had a No. 15 beating a No. 2 with Norfolk State dispatching Missouri 84-82, only the 5th time that particular scenario played out. If you’re looking for a good 15-2 upset you might consider the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles over Georgetown. The Eagles beat a No. 2 seed Miami earlier in the season, a nice credential to have entering the tournament. Our biggest upset prediction is No. 14 Davidson over No. 3 Marquette. The Wildcats after starting off 9-7 enter the Dance with a 17 game winning streak. They played Duke, Gonzaga and New Mexico tough this year and have a couple of very good big men in De’Mon Brooks and Southern Conference Player of the Year Jake Cohen. Look for Davidson to advance but we wouldn’t bet the house on it.
4. Lowest Ranked Team to make it to the Sweet 16
Once again we have to look at possible upsets. Ideally we’re looking for a couple of low seeds from the same bracket with a decent chance of pulling off upsets and meeting each other in the round of 32. Look to the East Regional and No.12 California beating No. 5 UNLV and No. 13 Montana surprising No. 4 Syracuse. There’s no reason in the world why Montana should beat Syracuse. They have no Top 25 wins and Syracuse has 5, including one win over top ranked Louisville. But like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates, with Syracuse you never know what you’re going to get. Look for the Grizzlies to beat Syracuse, beat California, and advance to the Sweet 16
3. The Final Four
It’s tempting to just fill in all four #1 seeds and be done with it but that’s a lazy man’s way. In case you’re wondering, since 1979 it’s happened only once when all four No. 1 seeds (Kansas, Memphis, North Carolina, UCLA) made it to the Final Four. Looking back at Final Four history it turns out that on average only 1.8 No. 1 seeds make it to the Final Four. This year let’s round it up to three; parity be dammed. The cream of the crop this year is Indiana, Louisville and Kansas. Just to prove we are not lazy men let’s add No. 4 seed Kansas St. out of the West region; a team that has shown it’s able to beat just about everyone except Kansas
2. Outstanding Players of the Tournament
Just as there are no dominating teams this year there are no dominating players. That said there are many talented players who will make their mark in the tournaments. Keep an eye on these studs:
- Creighton’s Doug McDermott is one of the best pure shooters in the country.
- Georgetown forward Otto Porter plays great defense and is not afraid to take over when the game is on the line.
- Kansas center Jeff Withey plays big on both ends of the court. He has title game experience from last year’s loss to Kentucky, and blocked a record 31 shots during last year’s tournament.
- Nate Wolters, a lights out shooter from tiny South Dakota State. Could be the catalyst for a big upset of No. 4 seed Michigan.
Miami’s Shane Larkin, Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk, Duke’s Mason Plumlee, Cody Zeller of Indiana, Peyton Siva of Louisville and frosh sensation Ben McLemore of Kansas all bear watching as well but here’s the deal. In order to be the tournament’s outstanding player your team has to make it to the Final Four and more than likely, be in the championship game as well. That leaves us with:
Victor Oladipo of Indiana. His aggressive defense and Jordan style dunks make this 6’5”junior guard a prime candidate to become the tournament’s outstanding player.
1. And the Winner Is
Reputations don’t win championships. Coaches don’t win championships. Gaudy records don’t win championships. The teams with the best players hardened by a season’s worth of tough competition win championships. The actual championship game will be the semifinal matchup between the two best teams in the Dance; Kansas and Indiana. Indiana squeaks by the Jayhawks and on April 8 the Indiana Hoosiers will cut down the nets and claim the 2013 National Championship.
There you have Man Cave Gadgets predictions for NCAA’s 2013 March Madness Dance. Excuse us, we have some brackets to fill out.
Photo Credit: Chicago Man