March Madness – Day 1

I KNOW IT’S NOT REALLY DAY ONE. Shut up, you’re annoying. But can you really count the play-in games when one of the top teams from a major conference had 13 points at halftime? The Pac-12 sucks balls.

So TODAY is day one as far as I’m concerned. And this is where the guy who openly admits he didn’t follow enough college basketball this season is going to tell you who’s going to win and why. My failure to follow in 2011-2012 comes from a couple of factors: Washington State sucked this year, and I’m not AT Washington State anymore.

You kinda lose interest when the only games you get to see are maybe when your team is playing locally. Maybe. And then your center accounts for 75 percent of a lackluster offensive effort in a blowout loss. Eh, no thanks, I heard the Pro Bowl is playing on NFL Network so I’ll just cut to that (oooh, BURNED college basketball!).

But I do have some credibility – I followed the college basketball season closely enough to know that Kentucky and Kansas are good, Long Beach State almost got as much unnecessary press as Jeremy Lin, Indiana is overrated, Syracuse is screwed, and Iona couldn’t protect a lead if it were double-bubble-wrapped and gifted to them in an armored truck.

And I’ve had surprisingly solid success as a bracketeer over the last five years or so of obsessively scribbling down my tournament picks. I go for consistency. Much like Jim Kelly, I will get myself in position to win the big one, only to blow it at the end. But the fact that I get so close every time has to count for something, right? Mr. Kelly, why are you crying?

Anyways, enough dilly-dallying. Let’s get to the picks. We’ve got 16 big games coming up on the real day one from all across the regions. This is how it will shake out, in no particular order:

(4) Wisconsin def. (13) Montana – C’mon, you can’t expect me to go against my boy KP! Don’t listen to the pathetic rumblings of the closet March Madness romantics; Montana will NOT win this game. It may be one of those awkwardly close games at halftime, but Wisconsin’s going to pull away with ease in the second half.

(16) UNC Asheville def. (1) SyracuseUpset of the century! Tricked ya, didn’t I? Don’t be ridiculous. Syracuse is going to beat UNC Asheville like my morning eggs. It’s going to be a bloodbath. Sure, losing Fab Melo might hurt later on in the tourney, but Jim Boeheim could start at point guard in this game and the Orange would still win. And no, I won’t go back and change that bolded part. I’ve gone way too far already.

(5) Vanderbilt def. (12) Harvard – Every year, there seems to be a 12 upsetting a 5 in the first round. And there might be in this tournament too. But it ain’t gonna be these lovable nerds that everyone seems to be so hyped about. Vandy is going to take Harvard back to school and win big. At least the Harvard players can go home with their heads held high, knowing most other players in this tournament will be working for them in the next five years.

(2) Ohio State def. (15) Loyola (MD) – Who are the Buckeyes even playing? I can’t take any team seriously that has to put it’s state in parentheses at risk of nobody knowing where they are otherwise. Now that I’ve said that, Ohio State is probably going down. But I’ll take the risk. OSU cruises by 20-plus.

(1) Kentucky DESTROYS (16) Western Kentucky – See what I did there? Look, I’m a believer in the inevitable, eventual 16/1 upset. It’s not going to be this year and it’s definitely not going to be Kentucky that goes down. Western is a cute little story and their play-in win was pretty exciting, but this in-state rivalry is a bit lopsided in favor of Big Blue. Look for a win by 30 or more for John Calipari’s Cats.

(12) VCU def. (5) Wichita State -This one is for real. Okay, I’m a little bit upset happy (awesome sports-related oxymoron locked in). You’ll see. I have 3 12-seeds and a 13 moving on…and this is the first. My goodness the “experts” are absolutely slobbering over Wichita State this year. Is it because if they win, the Shockers can throw up that dirty hand gesture that none of our parents will ever understand? Probably not. But I’m all for taking the ugly twin version of “WSU” to lose. There is one true WSU. They aren’t good enough to be in the tournament. Whatever.

(3) Baylor def. (14) South Dakota State – If, and that’s a very soft IF, South Dakota State pulls off the absolutely ridiculous upset, people still won’t be able to locate them on a map. I’m a huge Baylor fan. That RGIII guy is badASS! What? Wrong sport? Shit. I told you I haven’t watched enough college basketball this year…joking aside, Baylor is a legit Final Four threat and South Dakota State is a very short hurdle on their way.

(13) New Mexico State def. (4) Indiana -Yeah, I’m just not impressed. I was for a while, about two months ago. But since then, the Hoosiers have done nothing that allows me to not pick this upset. Honestly, I don’t know anything about New Mexico State. I usually forget New Mexico is even a state. But I once met a girl who went to New Mexico State. She was kinda hot. And if a + b = c, then New Mexico State wins this game. So there.

(6) UNLV def. (11) Colorado – Colorado is in the Pac-12. Don’t be stupid.

(6) Murray State def. (11) Colorado State -Unless the Rams are going to get Tim Tebow to play guard, they aren’t pulling any miracles. What a bummer day for the state of Colorado.

(4) Louisville def. (13) Davidson – Last time I checked, Davidson hasn’t had Steph Curry for a couple of years. Therefore, they no longer exist. Some crazies out there are picking Louisville to go to the Final Four. Saying that’s a stretch is like saying the Pope enjoys a good game of Quidditch. It makes no sense. Rick Pitino’s boys could pull a shocker, but I don’t believe it will happen. One thing they will definitely do, though, is win their first round game. Must be easy when your opponent isn’t real.

(3) Marquette def. (14) BYU – After overcoming a million point deficit to even get to this point, I’m afraid BYU’s luck has run out. They don’t have Jimmer Fredette anymore. And they also don’t have that guy that had sex once, or whatever. That dirty bastard. Marquette should win this one handily. I actually like the Golden Eagles in this tournament. I think getting to the Sweet 16 will be a walk in the park for them. Unfortunately, at that point, they run into Missouri. Well, it will be fun for a couple of games at least.

(12) Long Beach State def. (5) New Mexico – I know I gave Long Beach a bunch of crap to start this post. I still maintain they were blown out of proportion after one big non-conference upset. But they certainly earned their way into this tournament, and I think they got a very favorable first-round match up. There’s just no way in hell that two teams from New Mexico can move on. I went to a state school, so that upset will stand. Isn’t my logic awesome? Apologies to my good friend Amr Saad, who still goes to UNM. Jesus dude, are you seriously still in college…Egyptian Van Wilder up in here.

(9) Southern Miss def. (8) Kansas State Frank Martin is pretty scary, but ohhhhhhhh ohhhh oh oh I get a good feelin’ about Southern Miss. This should be a pretty good game. It’s already started and KSU is up big early, but that just makes my pick even more dramatic. I hate purple, because the Washington Huskies wear that color. Therefore, Kansas State is out.

(9) UConn def. (8) Iowa State – I was torn on this one. Two of my fellow Three Up, Three Down podcasters are going head to head. Mapes is a UConn fan and Abby is pulling for Iowa State. This isn’t a statement on my friendships with these people, I promise. It’s simply that I know more about UConn and that whole “defending champs” thing kind of factored in. Wow, this analysis had hardly anything to do with basketball.

(7) Gonzaga def. (10) West Virginia – I hate hate hate Gonzaga. They were the only school within hitchiking distance of mine, and of course there was a wild rivalry in basketball between them and WSU. Unfortunately, the Zags have always been a super power in their own right so they got to beat up on my Cougs here and there. But I cherished every victory. So this is a tough pick to make, rooting for my rivals. But I can’t lie – they are damn good. Whatever, my school still has them in football!

Those are my picks for day one. As you can see, plenty of excitement, plenty of upsets and plenty of good storylines. Good thing nobody reads this blog, or I’d be preparing myself for an influx of hate mail from the 385 combined residents of New Mexico and South Dakota. Let me know what you think of my picks. If you beat my bracket, you get the privilege of following me on Twitter @Jamblinman. Sweet prize, no? BUT if you don’t beat my bracket, you get this instead.

Ouch. Until tomorrow, please don’t go all Pele on your young children. Thanks.

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