After nailing my final bracketology, I should really be walking off into the sunset on a high note.
However, I've chosen to knock myself down a peg or two and try my hand at some predictions. I'm very much looking forward to these backfiring in my face, and when they do, I'll be standing proudly ready to take the heat. Onward we go!
NEW ENGLAND PRESENCE:
Rhode Island (11-seed) - The Rams were a team I had in most of the way, but since they heard that a bunch of "experts" had them out, they went ahead and won their league. Way to go! Rhodey is finally playing up to their potential which is dangerous for any team they face. As an avid Big East watcher, I can tell you that Creighton is just not the same team without Mo Watson. Rhode Island should be favored in the first round as an 11-seed, and they should win it. Oregon is their most likely 2nd-round opponent, which sounds rough, but they too lost a big part of their team (Chris Boucher) to a torn ACL. I like their chances at an upset, but I'm picking the Ducks in a close one.
Providence (11-seed play-in game) - This is right where I had the Friars. They deserve to be in, but their profile didn't have them strong enough to avoid the play-in. Here's the good news: USC is not nearly as good as their record. Their resume almost played them out of the dance. The bad news: awaiting Providence in the first round is SMU. More on them later, but news flash, they're awesome. Friars down in the 1st.
Vermont (13-seed) - A close friend of mine is very much on the Vermont can beat Purdue train, but I think it's a tall task. Purdue has one of the best players in the country in Caleb Swanigan, and despite having multiple bigs inside, they also hit plenty of threes. The Boilers aren't playing their best basketball right now so Vermont can certainly pull off the upset, but I don't see it happening this time around.
Here's who I like in 1st-round upsets...
Bucknell (13) over West Virginia (4)
Nevada (12) over Iowa St. (5)
Rhode Island (11) over Creighton (6)
Winthrop (13) over Butler (4)
and my upset special...
**NEW MEXICO STATE (14) OVER BAYLOR (3)**
SMU - They're good at everything. Literally everything. Fantastic defensive team. Good 3-point shooters. Awesome rebounding. I have them going deeeeeeeep...
North Carolina (champion)
For the record, I hate my final four. Absolutely hate it. Not even hoping I'm right. But if I am. . . I'll let you know.
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