18 March 2008

One blunder down, more to come

As an anonymous commenter points out below, I got my Capels mixed up. Jason Capel is the one I remember; Jeff's playing career actually was before my memory. Complicating matters further is that their father, also named Jeff, was a college coach as well. Anyway, I shouldn't trust my memory to be a fact-checker, but what fun would there be if it weren't unreliable? Next I plan to confuse my Unsers.


1 Kansas vs. 16 Portland State

I'll reiterate my thrill-killing pessimism that a 16 seed will ever beat a top seed, but, just for giggles, this is the best chance for it to happen this year. Portland State, making it's inaugural appearance, is a respectable outfit, and Kansas is Kansas. Still, not gonna happen.

8 UNLV vs 9 Kent

Kent played Indiana in back to back tournaments in 2001 and 2002, once in the first round, once in the Elite Eight. They have a dangerous team again six years later, though likely without any future NFL All-Pro tight ends. Second of the four Butler Law games; I'll give it to the Flashes in a toss-up.

5 Clemson vs 12 Villanova

'Nova is an old favorite of mine, and having the ACC team lose would really piss off Billy Packer, never a ill-gotten motive. Otherwise, zero interest in this game from me. Would it have killed them to give us Clemson-Western Kentucky and Drake-Villanova instead?

4 Vanderbilt vs 13 Siena

A trendy upset pick, this one, but I can't get enthused. Yes, Vandy is maddeningly inconsistent, like many SEC teams this year, but a 10-loss team from a mediocre minor conference? So they beat Stanford in November. Big deal. Siena has only one senior in its rotation, though, so they could well return for another go next year.

6 USC vs 11 Kansas State

I had believed that the NBA's new rules creating the one-and-done player would primarily benefit the traditional powerhouse programs, but so far, that's not really happened. There's a risk-reward element to them that old-money teams aren't willing to take on, but less-renowned major conference schools will gladly accept. Witness Ohio State, out of the tournament this year after Greg Oden and Mike Conley took them to the national championship game while passing through Columbus. I'm skeptical of teams relying too much on superstar post players, so I'll score this one for USC.

3 Wisconsin vs 14 Cal State-Fullerton

Last year I put the hex on Donkey's Wisky Badgers, so perhaps it'll make him feel better to know I like them more this year. Or perhaps it won't, given the overall gravity of this guessing game of mine. The Titans (love that nickname) are a four-time NCAA baseball champion who like to run it up and down the floor (they average 83 a game). Alas, they got a lousy draw. Wisky will bore them to death, if all else fails.

7 Gonzaga vs 10 Davidson

I'm almost skipping with glee at the prospect of watching Davidson carve up Gonzaga on a platter. They gave Maryland a tough out last year, when guard Stephen Curry first broke onto the national scene. Curry exploded this year, and carried the team to 22 straight wins. I'll look silly, but there are fewer first-round games I feel more confident about. I'd have them beating Georgetown, as well, but I fear they can't handle the Hoyas size.

2 Georgetown vs 15 UMBC

For whatever reason, UMBC doesn't like its athletic teams to be called "Maryland Baltimore County." I suppose there's some beauty in simplicity there, but it doesn't quite spark the mind quite like "UCLA" or "Cal Poly SLO," which is, I think, just "Cal Poly" these days. And Kent State is now Kent, and Southern Cal doesn't like to be called Southern Cal because it taints them by association with Silent Cal Coolidge, America's least verbose president, if nicknames meant anything.

1 Kansas vs 9 Kent
4 Vanderbilt vs 12 Villanova
3 Wisconsin vs 6 USC (changed my mind!)
2 Georgetown vs 10 Davidson

1 Kansas vs 4 Vanderbilt
2 Georgetown vs 6 USC

1 Kansas vs 2 Georgetown