If this month has you down in the dumps, the first round of the NCAA tournament begins this Thursday. You can make your own bracket and maybe even win some cash. The beauty of the tournament is that crazy things happen, and anyone—even people who know absolutely nothing about basketball—can get a perfect bracket.
Some advice: don’t be afraid of a Cinderella* story. Pick a low-seeded team to get past the first, maybe even the second, round. For all anyone knows, East Middle Idaho State Christian University South could make it to the Final Four. However, statistically speaking, the winner of the tournament is always a 1, 2, or 3 seed. So, don’t rely on the glass slipper too much.
*Cinderella is more than a Disney Princess: A cinderella story is when an unanticipated underdog makes an extraordinary run through the tournament. These teams are often exciting, and you want to cheer for them. Some of these schools are going to the tournament for the first time in school history, such as Abilene Christian (compared to UK’s record shattering 57 appearances).
The Girlfriend Bracket: Girls get a lot of slack for picking based on random things like player cuteness, jersey color, mascot, and other extremely important factors. This is stupid and sexist and also wrong. Nobody knows what happens. So, pick the right way–on team colors and mascots and which coaches wife you like the most (you know who I pull for). Let this guide help you. If you’ve decided to get on board with the basketball mayhem, here’s the quick and dirty of all you need to know about this week’s relevant (aka likely-to-be-talked-about) games.
Abilene Christian (15) vs Kentucky (2)
The only reason this is a game to write about is because we must always talk about the Cats. As mentioned above, this is the first time AC has ever been to the tournament, they are here after winning their conference. Due to their extremely light schedule throughout the season (the only noteworthy team they played was an almost 50% loss to Texas Tech), they aren’t anticipated to win. Some basketball pundits (the guys over at The Blow By) are calling this a warm up game for the Cats, and though I feel like that is possible they are jinxing the kitties, I’ll go ahead and say Cayuts by 90.
Although, their mascot is also a wildcat, so maybe they’re onto something.
Minnesota (10) vs Louisville (7)
Another Kentucky team got in at large. Under the new leadership of Chris Mack, the Cards are doing much better than anticipated. The Cards are in an extremely tough conference; regularly playing Duke, Virginia, and UNC. Even the bad teams in the ACC are usually pretty good. Meanwhile, Minnesota enjoys a much weaker conference. Of their last ten games against high quality teams they’ve won only four. I’ll always pick a Kentucky team, but regardless of that the Cards will be the team to beat. L’s up.
Marquette (5) vs Murray State (12)
Though neither school has the brand recognition of a blue blood school, this could be the most entertaining game of the first round. Marquette has the fifth leading scorer in the NCAA, Markus Howard, with 25 points per game. Meanwhile, Murray State has Ja Morant, as mentioned last week he is a guaranteed top 5 overall pick in the draft. Most importantly, he is absolutely electric and is actually pretty enjoyable to watch. Most importantly, Murray is representing the western half of Kentucky.
Pro Tip: If Murray wins, they have a pretty reasonable path to the elite eight. A cinderella story in the making.
Seton Hall (10) vs Wofford (7)
The only reason this game is worth mentioning is that the winner will play our beloved Kitties (assuming they win their first game). The Cats lost to Seton Hill earlier this season, making this a possible revenge game. However, what’s more fun than a cat vs dog debate? Wofford is a suggested team to watch for an upset, as they can score—a lot, sometimes quickly. Their three-point shot percentage is top three at 41.6 percent. No need to join anyone to watch this game. Just check in on the score when it’s all over.
Gonzaga (1) vs Fairleigh Dickenson
Gonzaga. Despite being a number one seed, they’re overrated. They’ve played three ranked teams TOTAL over the entirety of the season: two losses, and one two-point win over Duke. They lost their conference tournament to perennial powerhouse Saint Mary’s.
Bracketology: Could there be another 1-16 seed upset? If I were making bets, this would be one of them.
This is just the first day, looking at Friday consider these games:
N. Kentucky (14) vs Texas Tech (3)
Another Kentucky team playing for it all! I’m hopeful for the Vikings, but Texas Tech has been on a pretty hot streak. Despite their loss to WVU in the Big 12, they had won the previous nine straight games. They also massacred Kansas, winning by 29 points.
Duke (1) vs NC Central/N. Dakota St.
Honestly, this will be painful for whoever wins the play-in game. These teams are playing for the right to get sacrificed…or to be in Zion’s presence for forty minutes. Send prayers for these poor, probably suspecting, souls.
As usual, there were some snubs by the selection committee along with some crushed dreams. However, at the end of the day not everyone can make the tournament. The 2019 major snubs include Indiana, Alabama, and UNC-Greensboro.
Why Know The Passed-Over Teams: Knowing a team that didn’t make it despite being on the bubble is a quick way to look like you know WAY more than you do.
Due to the chaos that ensues after Selection Sunday, here is a quick wrap up of interesting news from the conference tournaments. This won’t be as useful for conversation starts because people usually don’t talk about conference tournaments after Selection Sunday because the NCAA tournament is much cooler. But here we go anyway:
The University of Kentucky Wildcats lost to Tennessee in a tough loss. This was the third match-up of the two teams. Tennessee won two games, Kentucky won one.Kentucky is still better.
- Auburn won the SEC tournament for the second time. The last time that they won was 1985.
- Gonzaga lost to Saint Mary’s by THIRTEEN POINTS despite being a one seed. Who is St. Mary’s you ask? I don’t know her.
- Duke won its 21st ACC tournament. Zion was, somewhat surprisingly, back in action.
- Yale won the battle of the nerds and is representing the Ivy League this week.
- Nearby Cincinnati Bearcats won the AAC Conference.
- Northern Kentucky won their tournament in the Horizon conference and make the fourth Kentucky school in the NCAA tournament.
- Old Dominion—the team,not the phenomenal band that releases only bops—won Conference USA
- Vermont won over UMBC, last year’s phenomenal cinderella story (a sixteen seed who masterfully won over a one seed for the first time in NCAA history). Sad that the golden retrievers aren’t back. BUT, as I predicted last week, Wofford won the Southern Conference and will be in the tournament this year. There must be at least one fun dog mascot in the tournament.
For a more nuanced analysis of the bracket, check out The Blow By! Drew, Ben, and Jordan do an in-depth analysis of the bracket and who they think has what it takes to win it all.
If you’re still lost on just what the heck is going on, look no further than this NCAA explanation. Thanks for reading, join me again next week!
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