A year ago at this time, kristina and I made a vow to help everyone in the Rock M Nation reading world make their picks for the NCAA tournament, this continued through the Football season, and so, we're back!
Maybe we'll branch out in to other sports this summer, but in the meantime we're focused on basketball. Now before we get into the picks, we wanted to outline some hard and fast rules that you should abide by to ensure that you win your pool, and that that random guy in that cube down the hall who makes his picks based on colors doesn't get you.
THE RULES ET AL:
- Just in case kansas makes it past the first round, your next bet to taking them down is to find a nice mid-major.
- It's almost a guarantee that a 12 upsets a 5, so bracket hipsters have moved on to the 13 & 14 upsets. Go Fresno State! (Almost, as no 12 actually won last year, but that's rare!)
- According to ESPN, it's been nine years since the top 16 seeded teams make it to the weekend. Upsets, people, pick 'em! (And given just a glance around, it seems this year especially.) For that matter, without a real horse in the race, isn't rooting for the underdog more fun anyway? Well, outside of Stony Brook, sorry guys.
- No matter how much you research, someone using mascots, school colors, and/or a coin flip will beat you. It's science.
- It's kind of a lucky number. A 7 seed has made it past the first round every year except in 1999.
- Mizzou'd! Xavier is this year's tourney team that has the most appearances without a final four.
- If a coach and his son are in the tournament, take them to win one game, minimum.
- It's been 10 years since Mason made their run, Larranaga is back this time with Miami, it's a sign!
In the East (east coast bias baby!)
1 UNC vs 16 Florida Gulf Coast
It's a shame FGCU gets paired up here, not only because their 2013 run into the sweet sixteen was fun as hell, but we have a preferred option if a sixteen seed is finally going to prevail. Then again, why not have two? (Lehigh was the only number #15 seed to win though, right!?!?)
8 USC vs 9 Providence
Let's just stick with the fact that Providence has the creepiest mascot ever. Hide your kids. But seriously, Providence, it's a Dunn deal, thanks I'll be here all week, try the veal.
5 Indiana vs 12 Chattanooga
It's rare that people want to jump from one game to the subsequent one but nobody, NOBODY, outside of Chattanooga and Stony Brook want to see upsets in the first round. We want our Indiana-Kentucky match-up. They refuse to play each other and the tourney could force them too, and that's awesome!
4 Kentucky vs 13 Stony Brook
After the draw was announced Coach Cal made a big to do about their seeding, but not because he thought they were particularly under seeded, though that was a part of it, no it was how unfair it was to the rest of the competition in the bracket. So moral of the story, just give Kentucky a 1 seed, or better yet a bye to the final four just so it's fair to everyone. How magnanimous John! Fun fact: Stony Brook's first tourney appearance!
6 Notre Dame vs 11 Michigan/Tulsa
Don't even care who wins the play-in (liar, Michigan all the way) but Notre Dame. Michigan and Tulsa look awful. A lot of "how did Tulsa make the tourney?" talk going around, but all is well, they lost. Notre Dame, only because, well, nothing about last night's game was inspiring.
3 West Virginia vs 14 Stephen F Austin
Brad Underwood used to work for Bobby Huggins, yet he wears clothes made of a fabric that isn't velour...I'm confused. Stephen F. Austin has a very good forestry department, take one guess what they have as a mascot.
7 Wisconsin vs 10 Pittsburgh
I'm going to go with Pitt here, just because I still find Wisconsin's uniforms from last year's tourney both silly and awful. If people can select a bracket based on mascots and/or state bird, why the hell can't we use uniforms?
2 Xavier vs 15 Weber State
Weber State seems like one of those perennial "maybe they can finally have a Cinderella run" types. But not this year, as per usual. (Right, like fifteen seeds upset all that much. Too soon?) Plus, we all know Xavier somehow will get to the final four just because.
In the Midwest
1 Virginia vs 16 Hampton
Nothing to see here, folks. I know Hampton is in Virginia, do we get bonus points for that? Silly East Coast bias. Nothing goes on when the fancy Metro gets shut down, eh? The only thing you know about Hampton is this, and it's all you should know.
8 Texas Tech vs 9 Butler
Tubby Smith just wins and takes teams to the tournament, it's cooky! Either way, its and 8/9 game so you know whoever wins they'll lose to VA. But most sites have Butler winning this one, at least the ones we ran across.
5 Purdue vs 12 Arkansas Little Rock
Everyone loves a 12/5 upset, so feel free to pick this one. UALR plays pretty slowly and Purdue is very, very tall. Also, Matt Painter...so booooooo Matt Painter, this is also partially your fault.
4 Iowa State vs 13 Iona
Last year Iowa State blew up everyone's bracket with a first round loss on Thursday, so here's to history repeating! Plus, it's an Irish holiday. Luck of the Irish/Gaelic or something like that. Do they drink green champagne in France at all? I doubt it.
6 Seton Hall vs 11 Gonzaga
Gonzaga has Arvydas Sabonis' kid on their roster, Domantas! The pick is easy here. (Uh, can we find a 6'11" center? Pretty please?)
3 Utah vs 14 Fresno State
I wonder what Keith Van Horn is up to right now? More Bulldogs, and this is my "oh why the hell not?" upset pick. Though 14s have won in the first round, watch Utah make it to the final four. (If it matters, KenPom has Fresno with a 25% chance to pull the upset)
7 Dayton vs 10 Syracuse
This game should be between Dayton and any number of mid major teams that are not Syracuse. If you lose to St. Johns, I mean, come on! Losing to Mizzou got SC booted, and losing to St. Johns is worse, no Syracuse, you must go and call the Bonnies or St. Mary's and abdicate your spot.
2 Michigan State vs 15 Middle Tennessee State
All Tom Izzo does is win in March...until he doesn't. But yeah, take State and ride that gravy train for all its worth.
In the South (games played in Washington State 'cause geography)
(Editor's note: In the spirit of the tournament, the header colors match the #1 seed. However, as we just can't have ku colors around here and as we are all Governor fans today, Austin Peay colors were the obvious choice.)
1 Kansas vs 16 Austin Peay
Nothing lasts forever. One day, a sixteen seed will do the unthinkable, and honestly there might not be a better scenario than this one. Make it happen, COTG!
8 Colorado vs 9 UConn
All UConn does is win in March (everybody wants to be like Denmon!), like Michigan State and let's all cheer for one time Frank Haith commit Rodney Purvis who got scared of some NCAA sanctions....thanks Nevin Shapiro, you tiny jerk.
5 Maryland vs 12 South Dakota State
You have to go with Maryland here, we all want the HHKB (excuse me, the artist formerly known as HHKB) household to remain pleasant for the weekend. And don't run over turtles.
4 Cal vs 13 Hawaii
I have no real grudge against Jankovic for leaving, so let's have a fun little upset for an ex-Mizzou player. Also, Cal is a bunch of sexual harassers.
6 Arizona vs 11 Wichita State
Is anyone going to pick against Gregg Marshall and his casual no tie wearing attitude? I hope there's a court storming so Sean Miller can freak out one more time. That dude hates over exuberance.
3 Miami vs 14 Buffalo
Angel Rodriguez leads Miami running the show from the point, yes that same Angel Rodriguez that ran the point for KSU when Mizzou was still in the Big 12. How he still has eligibility I have no idea, but hey, lots of kids go to college for 7 years.
7 Iowa vs 10 Temple
I have to pick Iowa, as any year I select Temple they lose. I've given up on you, you silly owls. And yes, that means technically they'll win this year, bracket superstitions are just nonsense.
2 Villanova vs 15 UNC Asheville
Let's hope no Piccolo girls are crying this year, it's just too damned sad! And we may or may not have 'Nova winning the whole thing. Nothing's worse than your bracket being destroyed in the very first round.
In the West
1 Oregon vs 16 Holy Cross
Congratulations Crusaders, you won your silly little play-in game. (Can we get rid of them now, seriously? I'm fine with removing the last four bubble teams, but enough.) Oregon wins, move along, though duck is pretty tasty.
8 St. Joes vs 9 Cincinnati
I find their mascot having to wave its arms all game long really over the top. Also, the bird can just do one arm and not the other when it gets tired, that's crap. Wave both arms and go Cincy.
5 Baylor vs 12 Yale
NERDS!!!!!!!!!!! All the upset talk with this one.
4 Duke vs 13 UNC Willmington
Duke does not win in even years, 2012, Lehigh got em, in 2014 it was Mercer, in 2016 it's gonna be their neighbors to the East. Not even Grayson Allen and his shenanigans will trip up the Seahawks...see what I did there?
6 Texas vs 11 Northern Iowa
Aw, Northern Iowa, we still love you for taking out Kansas so many years ago. Just for that, have an upset against our ex-conference foe. I mean, they did beat North Carolina, that has to mean something. Though it would appear we don't agree on this one. Not like I won our football match-up or anything!
3 Texas A&M vs 14 Green Bay
Like Indiana - Kentucky above, we all just want Texas and A&M to match up in round 2. There would be so much intrigue and it would give Bill Self a chance to say he doesn't see the point in scheduling Mizzou. Which would then cause a small freak out from RMN and people would choose sides and then there'd be sandwich talk, the end.
7 Oregon State vs 10 VCU
Gary Payton Jr is a Beaver and plays just as much defense as his dad, also he can dunk, so you know. Dunking means minutes, people!!...take VCU and their fantastic pep band.
2 Oklahoma vs 15 Cal State Bakersfield
Times have changed, folks. Remember that time we crushed OU? So much fun. So not the case right now. All this wouldn't have happened if they hadn't stolen Joe Cash from us...Oh and Sam is stalking Buddy Hield. Another first timer in Cal State. Go roadrunners, meep meep!
And that will do it for round 1! We may be back to breakdown the round of 32 but maybe not, remember...lazy! Enjoy round one and may your beer be green. (But seriously, you're drinking dyed beer.)