Breaking down the brackets
It’s that time of year again baby!
Crack a beer, fill a bowl full of nachos, work your butt into your favourite spot on the couch and prepare to watch hours and hours of the greatest creation in all of sport: the NCAA March Madness tournament.
This may well be the most wide-open tournament in recent memory, so before filling out your own bracket, check out The Reflector’s favourites in each region, as well as some sleeper squads that could pay huge dividends along the way.
Final Four bound: Memphis. John Calipari’s team may not be quite as deep as last year’s, which ran all the way to the final before losing to Kansas in overtime, but they should still easily roll through this relatively easy region.
Big Upset: Purdue over Connecticut. UConn will be without star guard Jerome Dyson and the Boilermakers from Purdue have been a steady force in a year of uncertainty.
Potential Cinderella: Mississippi St. If the SEC champion Bulldogs can stun No. 4-seed Washington in the opening round then all other foes should take note.
Final Four bound: Louisville. In what is by far the toughest region, the number one team in the nation is in for a rocky ride, however the Cardinals proved they have the talent to win it all after taking the Big East crown.
Big Upset: USC over Michigan St. The Trojans surprised many by winning the Pac-10 and that momentum should see them dance into the Sweet 16.
Potential Cinderella: USC. Again the Trojans have a tremendous upside and could turn an already brutal bracket into a nightmare for all involved.
Final Four bound: Syracuse. The Orange proved they are as dangerous as any other team in the NCAA after surviving a marathon game against UConn that went six overtimes in the Big East tourney. Look for them to stun the Oklahoma Sooners — led by national player of the year Blake Griffin — in the Sweet 16.
Big Upset: Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers could shock many with upsets over Illinois and everyone’s favourite Cinderella team from Gonzaga in the first two rounds.
Potential Cinderella: Western Kentucky. Tyler Hansbrough and the rest of the North Carolina Tar Heels need to watch out if the Hilltoppers make it to a potential Sweet 16 matchup.
Final Four bound: Pittsburgh. The Panthers will finally end their quarter-century curse of never making it past the Sweet 16. DeJuan Blair, Sam Young and Levance Fields are probably the most dangerous trio in the nation.
Big Upset: Florida St. over Xavier. There won’t be many upsets in this weak region, but the Seminoles did run all the way to the ACC final in what proved to be an extremely deep conference.
Potential Cinderella: Minnesota. If the Golden Gophers (got to love the name) can get past the oft-inconsistent Blue Devils from Duke, they could create serious problems for Pitt’s run-and-gun offence.
Semi-finals: Louisville over Memphis. The Tigers simply have not played many teams that possess the talent of the Cardinals this year and this should be enough for Rick Pitino and co. to land a spot in the national final.
Syracuse over Pittsburgh. With three of the final four teams being from the Big East, this matchup could easily go either way. The Orange are surging and will be looking to avenge an 18-point loss earlier this season.
National Championship: Louisville over Syracuse. This all-Big East showdown may prove to be one for the ages. The Cardinals have let down the Louisville faithful in the past but look for them to find redemption this year.