16 March 2010
1ST ANNUAL 505 BRACKETOLOGY WARNINGS
Why a picture of Jim Valvano you ask?
Simple, we have too much in common. Which gives me the right to feign some expertise on the upcoming NCAA Playoffs.
Jimmy V. was raised in Seaford, Long Island. I was raised 1 zip code away in North Massapequa, Long Island.
Jimmy V. learned his basketball in the schoolyards and parks of the South Shore of Long Island. I learned my basketball in those same schoolyards and parks.
Jimmy V. was a point guard at Rutgers University in 1967. I was a loudmouthed lout at Manhattan College in 1976 who was thrown out of the Rutgers gymnasium for questioning Rutgers All-American Phil Seller's lineage while my beloved Jaspers were trying to prematurely end Rutgers 31 game winning streak. (They failed).
Jimmy V's greatest claim to fame was winning the NCAA Tournament in Albuquerque in 1983. My greatest claim to fame was winning a Blackjack Tournament in Albuquerque in 2007.
With that out of the way......TAKE THE FOLLOWING TO THE BANK BRACKETOLOGISTS.
1/There are 4 Mountain West Conference teams in the Dance. I contend that these 4 teams as an aggregate are as good as the top 4 teams from ANY other conference in America. At least 3 will advance out of the 1st round. And there is a decent chance that all 4 will advance.
2/New Mexico will have no problem with Montana. I have picked the Lobos (somewhat heartily, as in my heart, not my head) as a Final 4 squad. The only thing holding this team back is what I call "The Manana Syndrome" that plagues statewide athletics here. A universal syndrome (i.e. all levels of athletic competition-pro-college-high school- little league- amateur etc) that I have witnessed first hand, observed as a spectator, and battled as a participant. It is a unique psychology that GRIPS competitors of all sports in this state whereby participants go into important games with the attitude that it's okay to wait for the other team to lose the game. Known in other parts of the country as CHOKING. But for the 1st time since I arrived here in 1986, I think Lobo coach Steve Alford has this attitude under control.
2/BYU, as their religious beliefs demand, is on a Mission. They have been underseeded. They should have been a 5 or 6 seed. They have not won an NCAA game in 7 consecutive appearances. They fear losing more in Provo more than they fear Catholicism and Judaism. They will defeat Florida. They will advance to the Elite 8. I picked Pittsburgh to defeat them at that point, but I consider that game a tossup. BEWARE OF BYU in this tournament.
3/San Diego State could very well be the surprise and Cinderella team of the whole show. The most athletic and strongest board team in the MWC, they will go as far as their top 5 in the country freshman, Kawhi Leonard, takes them. He is a STUD. The Aztecs defeated the Number 8 ranked Lobos twice this year, but in reality, they beat the Lobos 3 times....except for some very gracious "home" calls at the end of the game in Albuquerque. The SDSU/Tennessee game may be the most fun game to watch in the entire 1st round of the tournament, as it will be played above the rim. SDSU goes to the Sweet 16...yes, I even picked them to defeat Georgetown. One cannot discount the savvy wisdom of former NCAA Champion Coach Steve Fischer at the helm in San Diego.
4/UNLV is my question mark in the 1st round. Not sure they have the offensive weapons to defeat Northern Iowa, but their high pressure front end defense will surely put the NIU guards to the test. (When is the last time anyone used the term "high pressure defense" to describe a UNLV team?). I picked UNLV as a 1st round win, but that's as far as they go with Kansas as their next opponent.
Again...take these predictions to the bank..
But keep in mind...they're just my opinion....I could be wrong. And even Jimmy V. was perfect only once.