#Bracketology

With 2/3 of the regular season over it is time to start really paying attention to college basketball. To help us get ready for March Madness we are going to start Bracketology 101. This is not your average Bracketology exercise. Here we are going to take ESPN’s version and pick the games until a National Champion is crowned. I’ll be the professor guiding you through this course weekly from now until Selection Sunday. On that day you will have all the credit hours needed to pass and select your own games.

East

1) Villanova vs 16) Morgan State / 16) Mount Saint Mary’s

No 16 has ever beaten a 1, Villanova wins

8) USC vs 9) Northwestern

Northwestern’s first trip to the dance, Northwestern wins

5) Cincinnati vs 12) Vermont

Cincinnati is on a 10 game winning streak, Cincinnati wins

4) Notre Dame vs 13) Monmouth

Notre Dame leads the ACC right now…hello! Notre Dame wins

6) South Carolina vs 11) Wake Forest / 11) VCU

Shaka Smart ain’t at VCU anymore, but maybe, no I’m betting on South Carolina’s D

3) West Virginia vs 14) Princeton

Twenty one 14 seeds have won against a 3 (including Stephen F. Austin vs West Virginia last year), make it 22, Princeton wins

7) Maryland vs 10) Middle Tennessee

Even though Maryland leads the Big 10, Middle Tennessee will win

2) North Carolina vs 15) Bucknell

UNC is out to finish the job this season

1) Villanova vs 9) Northwestern

The defending champs are too much

4) Notre Dame vs 5) Cincinnati

Really good matchup, Notre Dame’s O vs Cincinnati’s D-defense wins championships

6) South Carolina vs 14) Princeton

South Carolina will be on upset alert after seeing Princeton down WVU

2) North Carolina vs 10) Middle Tennessee

North Carolina is too much to handle

1) Villanova vs 5) Cincinnati

Championship meddle and all that, Nova

2) North Carolina vs 6) South Carolina

Tar Heels gut it out over a tough Gamecock team

1) Villanova vs 2) North Carolina

We are going to have a rematch of the national championship for the East region. North Carolina is going to get revenge and the Tar Heels are on to the Final Four.

South

1) Kentucky vs 16) UC Irvine / 16) New Orleans

No 16 has ever beaten a 1, UK wins

8) TCU vs 9) Dayton

Two really good coaches in Jamie Dixon and Archie Miller, TCU wins on a buzzer beater

5) Duke vs 12) Akron

Duke is not the #1 team like they were thought to be, Akron with an upset

4) Arizona vs 13) Valparaiso

Arizona looked like the best team in the nation yesterday, Arizona wins

6) Xavier vs 11) UNC Wilmington

Xavier is a really tough team, X wins

3) Louisville vs 14) Florida Gulf Coast

Louisville has played the toughest schedule in the country, Cardinals roll

7) Minnesota vs 10) Miami

Minnesota has that Pitino guy’s son, picking the Gophers

2) Baylor vs 15) Georgia Southern

Baylor shocked everyone being ranked #1 earlier this year, they win

1) Kentucky vs 8) TCU

Kentucky is starting to round into shape, UK

4) Arizona vs 12) Akron

Arizona blows out Akron to set up an all Wildcat game

3) Louisville vs 6) Xavier

Louisville smothers Xavier

2) Baylor vs 7) Minnesota

Minnesota’s coach gets the upset to have a game vs dad

1) Kentucky vs 4) Arizona

Might be the game of the tournament, still taking UK

3) Louisville vs 7) Minnesota

Dad still has the upper hand in this father/son matchup

1) Kentucky vs 3) Louisville

Louisville got UK earlier this year, but that was a home game. Coach Cal will remind his players of such things, Kentucky wins to set up a Final Four matchup with North Carolina.

Midwest

1) Kansas vs 16) Texas Southern

No 16 has ever beaten a 1, Rock Chalk Jayhawk KU

8) Clemson vs 9) Arkansas

Woo Pig Sooie, Hogs back in the dance

5) Wisconsin vs 12) Nevada

The Badgers D suffocates the Wolfpack

4) Oregon vs 13) New Mexico State

Oregon rolls

6) Saint Mary’s vs 11) Illinois State

Illinois State is unbeaten in Missouri Valley play, upset special

3) Creighton vs 14) Belmont

Creighton just lost an important player and are vulnerable, not this round though

7) Michigan State vs 10) Texas Tech

I’m taking Izzo, THIS IS SPARTA

2) Florida State vs 15) UNC Asheville

Seminoles have been a pleasant surprise all year, FSU rolls

1) Kansas vs 9) Arkansas

ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK KU

4) Oregon vs 5) Wisconsin

Wisconsin suffocates the Ducks

3) Creighton vs 11) Illinois State

Illinois State shocks the world

2) Florida State vs 7) Michigan State

Izzo, they learned from last season and make the sweet 16

1) Kansas vs 5) Wisconsin

Kansas has more than Wisconsin can handle, down to the wire type game

7) Michigan State vs 11) Illinois State

Michigan State wins, too much for the Redbirds

1) Kansas vs 7) Michigan State

The last time these two played it was November of 2015. Michigan State earned a 6 point victory in a close game. I expect the same will play out other than the final result. Rock Chalk Jayhawk KU

West

1) UCLA vs 16) Weber State

No 16 has ever beaten a 1, UCLA

8) Indiana vs 9) Iowa State

OG Anunoby would’ve made a big difference, Iowa State wins

5) Florida vs 12) Seton Hall / 12) Kansas State

A play in game winner usually wins at least 1 more, Kansas State wins

4) Virginia vs 13) Chattanooga

The Cavaliers just held an ACC team under 50, Virginia wins

6) Purdue vs 11) Pittsburgh

The Boilermakers are better, Purdue wins

3) Butler vs 14) Richmond

Butler got a scare from DePaul, but still won

7) SMU vs 10) Virginia Tech

Probably two of the last few teams to make it, SMU in a close game

2) Gonzaga vs 15) North Dakota State

Gonzaga is liable to be undefeated at this juncture…upset? Negative

1) UCLA vs 9) Iowa State

UCLA has the best player I’ve seen in the country, Lonzo Ball

4) Virginia vs 12) Kansas State

Virginia’s style keeps K-State from scoring until the second half

3) Butler vs 6) Purdue

Purdue has too much inside for Butler to handle

2) Gonzaga vs 7) SMU

Gonzaga is marching towards immortality

1) UCLA vs 4) Virginia

Lonzo Ball proves why he should be the #1 overall draft pick in this game

2) Gonzaga vs 6) Purdue

Gonzaga remains unblemished with a solid win

1) UCLA vs 2) Gonzaga

Earlier this year Gonzaga traveled down the coast and got a win vs Arizona. They put their undefeated record on the line vs UCLA this time. This will be the game of the tournament to that point. Overtime and UCLA gets it done. Bruins to Final Four

Final Four

1) Kentucky vs 2) North Carolina

1) Kansas vs 1) UCLA

What a bunch of bluebloods we have in the Final Four! The top 4 programs in history all gather in Phoenix to battle it out for the National Championship. In the first game it will be Kentucky’s youth vs North Carolina’s experience. Remember the last game: Malik Monk had 47 points and Kentucky won 103-100. I think another high scoring affair will be in order this time. This game is for a date in the Championship and not pre-conference affair. North Carolina will win and be back in the National Championship Game. As for the other National Semifinal. Two hyped up freshmen in Lonzo Ball and Josh Jackson. Both should go in the early lottery. Both could be franchise saving faces at the next level. I think Ball’s ceiling is the highest in this year’s draft class and UCLA has just a little more than Kansas at this point. We are really splitting hairs here but UCLA will win to setup a “for the ages” matchup with the Tar Heels.

UNC vs UCLA

The hype for this game, NBA scouts by the dozens. Roy Williams vs Steve Alford. The Blueblood lineage. UCLA hasn’t won a championship since thwarting Arkansas’ back to back attempt in 1995. Before that the last title came way back in 1975. North Carolina has had more recent success with titles in 2005 and 2009. But none of that matters for this game, these players, these coaches. Here in the now. I say this with the utmost certainty, UCLA will win the National Championship this season because of Lonzo Ball. He’s the best player in the country and they have the best team.

UCLA – 2017 NCAA Tournament National Champions

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Picking the #SuperBowl

Take a moment and look at the quarterbacks who have guided their teams into the final four. Ben Roethlisberger vs Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers vs Matt Ryan. Has there ever been a better quartet vying for the Super Bowl?

AFC Championship Game
Pittsburgh Steelers vs New England Patriots
Rematch of a game played 10/23/2016. New England won 27-16
There’s probably an argument that these 2 franchises are the best of the conference. The Brady/Belichek combo is seeking 1 for the thumb. They didn’t play their best game of the year against Houston but it didn’t matter. That type of performance will get them beat vs Pittsburgh. Ben, Brown, and Bell are dynamic, but New England statistically had the best scoring defense during the regular and Kansas City just held Pittsburgh to 6 field goals. I expect a low scoring game that’s similar to the Pittsburgh-Kansas City game last night. I believe that the Steeler running attack with Bell will be the difference as Pittsburgh wins 16-13.

NFC Championship Game
Green Bay Packers vs Atlanta Falcons
Rematch of a game played on 10/30/2016. Atlanta won 33-32
Both teams ranked in the bottom third in the league in scoring defense. I believe Atlanta’s defense is slightly better because they gave up a lot of garbage time points and yards. Aaron Rodgers had been white hot for 2 months until he threw a pick against Dallas. Atlanta is a better team than Dallas and I don’t care what their records indicate. Basically Rodgers has to have a game like he had on 10/30 for the Packers to have a chance on advancing. As for the other hand: I said it last week and I’ll say it again this week MATT RYAN SHOULD BE MVP. The Falcons have an elite offense and they displayed that against Seattle. Green Bay isn’t the defense that Seattle is (with or without Earl Thomas). I think both offenses are going to score at will at times and I believe we are going to see a very similar game to the one they’ve already played. Atlanta will win a shootout 37-34.

Disclaimer: before the playoffs I picked a Kansas City vs Green Bay Super Bowl. Now I’m picking an Atlanta vs Pittsburgh Super Bowl

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#NFL Playoffs

Divisional
3) Seattle at 2) Atlanta
1/14/16
Rematch of a game played on 10/16/16, Seattle won 26-24
Matt Ryan should be MVP of the league. The Falcons have had a week off to get healthy (mainly get Julio Jones healthy). Atlanta’s head coach Dan Quinn was Seattle’s defensive coordinator for 2013-14. Familiarity much? This was a close game then with Seattle squeaking by but I see the Falcons getting revenge on their home field. Atlanta in the NFC Championship Game

4) Houston at 1) New England
1/14/16
Rematch of a game played on 9/22/16, New England won 27-0
As much as I would like to say week 3 was an aberration, it was. Tom Brady was serving his deflategate suspension and JJ Watt was lost for the season. Does that matter this time? Probably not but maybe just maybe Brady wants to take out some suspension frustration on a team he didn’t get to play this year. Houston’s defense is very good, but they just played a rookie QB making his first NFL start. The only drama from this game could be can New England not only win but cover. Patriots host AFC Championship Game

3) Pittsburgh at 2) Kansas City
1/15/16
Rematch of a game played on 10/2/16, Pittsburgh won 43-14
This was a complete mismatch from the opening kickoff. Pittsburgh dominated in every facet of the game. Think that’s not on the minds of the Chief players? This game will be played at Arrowhead, which is the toughest place to win in the NFL this side of Seattle. As good as Pittsburgh looked today, Ben has a bad wheel now. He says he’s a go but that KC defense is relentless. I think Andy Reid will have the answers this go around and Alex Smith will do what he does, manage that game plan beautifully. Chiefs on to Gillette with a matchup against the Patriots.

4) Green Bay at 1) Dallas
1/15/16
Rematch of a game 10/16/16, Cowboys won 30-14
Right now the Packers and Aaron Rodgers are the hottest thing in the NFL. The Cowboys have had a magical season thus far. I feel this may be the best game of the playoffs so far. Did you see what happened right before halftime today? The only thing that gives me caution is Jordy Nelson’s health. But Green Bay has many weapons that can pick up the slack. Dallas’ young guns are going to make this interesting but I’m taking the seasoned vet over the rookie at QB. Packers on to Atlanta for the NFC Championship Game

NFC – Green Bay at Atlanta
AFC – Kansas City at New England

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#NFL Playoffs

6) Miami
3) Pittsburgh
Rematch of a game on 10/16. Miami won 30-15. Big Ben got hurt and Jay Ajayi went off for 200 yards. The game was played in Miami then, but it’s in a cold Pittsburgh now. Big Ben and Co. are healthy and Tannehill has been MIA for a few weeks. I’m picking Pittsburgh

5) Oakland
4) Houston
Rematch of a game on 11/21. Raiders won 27-20. The Raiders were fully healthy but jet lagged in Mexico City and Houston had them down 17-13 going into the 4th. The Texans have a -49 point differential for the season. YIKES! But, they have someone who has actually played NFL football before at QB and even though Oakland is the better team they are missing Carr and the backup. I’m picking Houston

6) Detroit
3) Seattle
Both teams have had their moments. But both are in the dance. The 12th man will make things difficult on Stafford and Co. The legion of boom is missing Earl Thomas though. Seattle struggled with non playoff teams Arizona and San Francisco to end the year. Upset of the weekend, I’m picking Detroit

5) New York
4) Green Bay
Rematch of a game from 10/9. Green Bay won 23-16. That Aaron Rodgers guy can sure fling the magic bean around. So too can Eli. Both are coming off road victories over teams fighting for their playoff lives too. The last two times this matchup has taken place in the playoffs at Lambeau the G-men have won. I don’t think that it’ll happen 3 straight. (However I believe the winner of this game has the best chance to run the T-A-B-L-E) I’m picking Green Bay

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