The time is here. No pontification necessary. The bracket, the tournament, Norfolk State. The madness has finally come. But who will prevail? Who will wear the slipper? Who will fall? I’m glad you asked. The Clausenator Crystal Ball has the answers.
Team that will be toughest to predict
Michigan. They are incredibly talented, and fared well in the toughest conference this year. But their recent play has been worrisome. They have gone 10-7 since starting 16-0. They could be the team that lost to Penn State, or they could be the team that beat Michigan State and Pitt. They could be upset in the first round, or they could run the table in the South bracket. No one knows. Except for me, but more on that later.
Team that played well most of the year but will lose quickly
Duke. Overall, they’ve been playing very well since the return of Ryan Kelly. But in the second round, they will meet a tough match-up against Creighton. This team is more than Doug McDermott, and Duke will find that out the hard way. The scrappy Missouri Valley team will out-rebound the Devils, and force them to play from behind through turnovers and solid shooting. I see an early exit once again for Coach K’s squad.
First round upset watch
11 v. 6: I see two of them here. Minnesota over UCLA. In March, the better coached team usually wins. I know the Gophers have been struggling recently, but I think they are tournament tested and will knock out a young yet talented Bruin squad. Also, Belmont over Arizona. An inconsistent offense and dismal 3-point defense will be the demise of the Wildcats against a team that shoots almost 40 percent from three. No love for the Pac-12 here.
12 v. 5: Ole Miss over Wisconsin. The uptempo pace and stellar rebounding skills of the Rebels, who seem to be peaking at the right time, will overwhelm Wisconsin. When it’s close, the Badgers usually prevail. But I don’t see this one being close.
13 v. 4: South Dakota State over the aforementioned Wolverines. Nate Wolters is a stellar point guard, but the Jack Rabbits are not a one man show. They are one of the most well-disciplined teams in the field, and have the experience and talent to knock off a beast of the Big Ten.
14 v. 3: Davidson over Marquette. The Golden Eagles went a very quiet 14-4 in conference play, but seem to fail against teams that can shoot the three – as evidenced by a 33-point blowout against Florida. Davidson with the upset of the tourney here. The 1 and 2 seeds will all survive; in the first round anyway.
Second round upsets:
7 v. 2: Creighton over Duke. As explained in the above paragraph.
11 v. 3: Belmont over New Mexico. The Lobos struggle away from home as the Bruins continue to be hot from the outside.
13 v. 5: South Dakota continues a magical run with a win over VCU. They have the composure and poise to handle any sort of press or defensive scheme Shaka Smart throws their way.
Although I see them advancing, Gonzaga and Louisville will have tough tests and barely squeak by against Wichita State and Colorado State, respectively.
The Jayhawks have shown flashes of brilliance. A road win against a very talented Ohio State team. They have shown flashes of pitiful play. Three straight losses, including the embarrassment against TCU. But when they are on, they are the most talented team in the country. No one is tougher, and no one plays from behind with more composure than the senior led Jayhawks. Admittedly, a lot is riding on Ben McLemore. He can’t disappear in any of the games if they are to have a chance. But honestly, it’s up to Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford to bring the offense on a more consistent attack. Defense, with Jeff Withey, Kevin Young, and a surging Perry Ellis controlling the paint, will take care of itself. Despite some of the team’s flaws, they are still my choice for…
Call me biased, call me blind, but Kansas will cut down the nets in Atlanta. They have the talent, the experience, and more importantly the coaching to get them through the times when they don’t play their best. It will certainly be a tough test; the potential contest against Indiana in the Final Four will be a site to behold. But Zeller, Oladipo and Watford present favorable match-ups for Withey, Young and Releford defensively, and I believe Indiana will have a tough time getting the offense going. After Ohio State gets by Louisville on the other side, the quadruple re-match will become the bane of the Buckeyes existence.
So there you have them, the predictions for March Madness 2013. Feel the Clausenator Crystal Ball is cloudy? Stir the pot in the comments. Enjoy the games everyone.