Joel’s View from the booth: Another bracket projection 19 Mar 14

This year more than most I’ve been asked my opinion on the NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament.  I’m not sure my guesses will be better than yours in predicting the winners.  I haven’t written a column like this before but here it goes…Here’s what I think of the tournament:

South Region:

My Region Champion: Florida.  I just love how Florida is playing, they’ve been consistently good all season long playing top notch competition.  Plus they have proven in years past they can win, and they have one of the best coaches in the NCAA. 

My Region Surprise:  New Mexico.  I have them going to the Sweet 16.  I like teams with experience that consistently win and that’s New Mexico.  Plus they have top notch players in Kendall Williams, Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow.  Look for them to go down low and score on teams.

Other thoughts on the region:  I don’t like VCU very much at all…they have to deal with a really good SF Austin team, plus the loss of a top player to injury.  Syracuse is always consistently good. 

West Region:

My Region Champion: Arizona.  I’m not really thrilled with the teams in this region.  Had a team like Wichita State or Michigan State or Iowa State  or even Syracuse were put into this bracket I’d take them as the region champion.  Arizona is solid, good team…got nothing bad to say about them.  I just don’t like this bracket

My Region Surprise:  Nebraska and North Dakota State.  I have them both wining games.  Nebraska is playing well and when they are shooting they are hard to beat.  NDSU I picked more because Oklahoma isn’t play well.  I’d have picked most anyone against Oklahoma. 

Other thoughts on the Region:  I would like to see this McDermott player Creighton boasts, think he’d look good in a Wolves uniform?  I can’t see a team the Gophers beat earlier this year going too far…sorry Badgers. 

East Region:

My Region Champion: Virginia.  I really like this region.  It’s kind of the polar opposite to the West in my opinion.  I gave strong consideration to Michigan State, Iowa State and Villanova.  But in the end I value defense.  Defense wins championships, and there isn’t much better than Virginia at defending. 

My Region Surprise:  not much surprises here with the top 4 teams so good.  But I’ll go with Harvard here.  Ivy league schools tend to show well in the tournament, plus I think they match up VERY well with a vunerable Cincy squad. 

Other thoughts on the Region:  Think Fred Hoiberg has interest in coming to the Wolves as coach?  He’s done a heck of a job with the Cyclones.  Wow the mighty have fallen…UConn and North Carolina, a 6 and 7 seed. 

Midwest Region:

My Region Champ: Louisville.  They are vastly underrated at a number 4 seed.  Heck they are the defending champions.  I like Wichita State a lot and almost picked them over the Cards, but what swayed me was Louisville beating State last year in the final 4.  They’ve done it before and I think they’ll do it again. 

My Region Surprise:  Massachusetts.  I love the talent on UMass…but is has been inconsistent this year.  The Minutemen played a tough schedule which should help prepare them for the tourney.  Plus I also love picking against Duke!

Other thoughts from the Region: Michigan is the only big ten team into the final eight.  I still think we’re the deepest conference, we just don’thave the elite level team in it.  I can’t put them into the Final 4. 

Final Four/National Champion:

I have Florida and Arizona winning Final Four games.  I know I just got done saying that I hated Arizona’s region and would pick a lot of teams over them.  But sometimes you have to go with your gut.  That’s what I did with Zona.  I have Florida winning the whole tournament.  If Virginia’s offense were better I’d consider them but I just can’t pick them.  Florida is good enough offensively, defensively, all over the board to beat all comers!

My National Champion: FLORIDA GATORS