We'll start in the top half, where OSU shouldn't have much of a problem motoring to the Elite 8. The 8/9 is an interesting matchup between two mid-major at-larges. Come to think of it, four of the six at-large mid-majors are playing in two first-round games. I don't know how that works. I guess from one point of view, it ensures mid-major progression, but on the other hand, it eliminates the upsets of power conference teams that everyone loves oh so much.
Here, we have Brigham Young and Xavier. I'm taking BYU, for no real reason. Again, it's pretty inconsequential because the winner will just get Greg Oden'd in the second round. But I did find this line from the ESPN "Blue Ribbon Tourney Guide" to be amusing:
...with six players having served Mormon missions, the Cougars can put anI'm sorry, but can someone remind me of how serving Mormon missions has anything to do whatsoever with playing basketball?
experienced group of players on the floor.
Elsewhere, we have probably the most aggravating seed in my eyes, which is Virginia at a 4. I guess that's their reward for sharing the ACC lead with North Carolina, but still, what a ridiculous seed. Their nonconference schedule was utterly underwhelming, including losses to Purdue, Utah, and Appalachian State at home. In conference, they beat Maryland twice. And that's really it. They piled up the rest of their 11 wins against Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, NC State, and other really mediocre teams. They didn't even beat UNC or anything. Honestly I wouldn't be at all surprised if Albany pulled the upset here, although I'm still pushing the Cavs to the second round.
Tennesse, even as inconsistent as it's been, has a pretty easy path to the Sweet 16 for a 5 seed, where it'll just get beaten by the superior Buckeyes. It'd be pretty wild/entertaining if Long Beach State upset the Vols, but I doubt it'll happen.
The lower portion of the regional has one of the more interesting sequences in the entire tournament. The first talking point is Memphis, which once again has been rewarded with a 2 seed for being king of shit heap mountain. I'm taking Nevada more out of spite than anything. Also because I think Nevada is actually good, and played more real teams than Memphis did and still lost only one more game. Yet it's 5 seeds lower than Memphis.
The other, and much bigger, talking point is Louisville playing their first two games in Lexington, Kentucky, essentially rendering those games home games, which is an absurd advantage to give a 6 seed. The reason I'm griping is because I have Texas A&M coming out of this regional, and they'll most likely have to take down the Cardinals in the second round, provided they put away UPenn first.
BUT, if the Aggies can slip past Louisville, they get to play the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 in San Antonio, which is a huge geographic benefit for A&M. This is a big part of the reason I am taking A&M to the Final Four over Ohio State. It's a risk, but the reward could be gigantic when I'm in the minority of people who picked A&M to go to Atlanta and it actually happens. If not, oh well. My bracket will be screwed. But that's part of the fun of this whole process!
So, this is it then. My Final Four picks in a minute, but first, the obligatory picture of the San Antonio Regional.