Good morning, hoddlers. Shelina Zadorsky graces today’s header image
For those of you who checked in last week, you would have seen fitzie preparing for Selection Sunday. St. John’s blew a 16-point lead to Villanova and, with that, a chance to make it to the Big Dance. But, plenty of other things happened. Pity the bubble teams that got bumped because of Richmond, who secured an automatic bid on Sunday.
But now the bracket is in, and fitzie’s made his picks. Let’s run by them region by region:
(NB: fitzie has watched a total of four college basketball games this season, so do not take much stock into what he has to say)
This looks like a straightforward route for Gonzaga, this year’s No. 1 overall seed and also the preseason No. 1 pick. I only see one team that could reasonably challenge them: Duke. The Blue Devils handed Gonzaga a rare loss this season (albeit early in the season and at home). But I can’t foresee Coach K walking away from the game with another championship.
Baylor appears to have the hardest road out of any of the top seeds this year, and I don’t think they’re going to last very long. That’s because of UCLA, a team that’s lower seeded than it should be because of some unfortunate injuries this year. Virginia Tech, this year’s ACC Tournament Champion, are interesting but I think conference tournaments are overrated. Lucky for them Texas has a bad Top 25 record. That leaves Kentucky, whose losses have come against Tennessee, Auburn, Arkansas, Duke and Notre Dame. It’s a toss up for me between them and the Bruins.
I’ve got my eyes out for the classic 12-seeded team to make a run, and I expect that team to be UAB. I’ve got them over Houston because the numbers say so, and have zero faith in any Big Ten teams (sorry, Illinois). Arizona, Villanova and Tennessee are all interesting choices, but I never pick Villanova to win. If St. John’s can’t win the tournament, then no Big East Team can.
This also looks like an easy route for Kansas. I don’t buy Providence as a contender at 4, and Richmond get a first-round W over Big Ten’s Iowa. Auburn have lost three of their last six games; that isn’t NCAA tournament material. So what other choice is there - another Big Ten team like Wisconsin? I don’t buy it. USC makes an unlikely Elite Eight run but this looks like Kansas for the taking.
Gonzaga, UCLA, Tennessee, Kansas
I’m already going out on a limb here with UCLA making it this far, so I can’t in good conscience pick them to beat out Gonzaga. And NCAA championships featuring two No. 1 seeds is an uncommon occurrence. If history be my guide, then Tennessee be my finalist.
The Zags have never won a national championship, and were runners-up last year after getting blown out by Baylor. But the drought ends this year. I am picking Gonzaga as the national champions with an undeserved confidence.
Fitzie’s track of the day: Better Git it In Your Soul, by Charles Mingus
And now for your links:
Charlie Eccleshare ($$): Inconsistent Tottenham are blowing a golden opportunity
Thomas Tuchel: ‘No doubt I stay until the end of the season’
Peter Cech offers assessment on ‘day-to-day’ situation at Chelsea
Messi and Neymar booed during PSG’s win versus Bordeaux
(Content warning) The toll that perfectionism has taken on students like deceased Stanford goalie Katie Meyer