I started this tradition a few years ago, where we round up the sites from all over the conference to collectively talk about the teams we all know inside and out by now. This year, there was plenty of controversy to spark discussions, so let’s dive right in.
First of all, let’s do a little roll call. Let us know who you are, which blog you are representing, and either where/when your team is playing in the NCAA/NIT Tournament, or which Big 12 team you are pulling for now that your team is done playing.
Levi Stevenson (WRNL): My name is Levi Stevenson and I’m the Managing Editor at Wide Right & Natty Lite. The Iowa State Cyclones have elected to forgo postseason play in order to prepare their impending world domination in the 2018-2019 season.
I don’t know if there is a consensus Big 12 team that Cyclone fans are cheering for, but most will be cheering for South Dakota State and/or Loyola (Chicago). Former ISU assistant T.J. Otzelberger coaches the Jacks, and former Cyclone point guard Clayton Custer is Loyola’s leading scorer. We tend to follow and cheer for former Cyclones, even after they transfer to other programs.
Melissa Triebwasser (FOW): I am Melissa Triebwasser, co-Managing Editor at Frogs O’ War, proud supporter of the TCU Horned Frogs, who are back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since Apple was still just a thing that you ate.
Us Frog fans are all used to cheering for teams not named TCU this time of year, so I am not sure there is a consensus second favorite team. I can about guarantee you we will all be big Lumberjacks fans in round one though.
Michael Nichols (Our Daily Bears): For name and association, see my name and association at the start of this paragraph. The Bears already handled Wagner on Tuesday night as a #1 seed in the NIT and will play again Friday night. Having been on the wrong side of the bubble, I think Baylor fans are a bit too salty to take up the cause of another team. At least, I am. I’ll enjoy the Tournament as always and find little joys, but when Syracuse gets in leaving two superior Big XII teams out (not to mention St. Mary’s and USC), it’s hard not to get jaded.
Cody Daniel (Burnt Orange Nation): My name’s Cody Daniel and I’m the Co-Editor at Burnt Orange Nation, the site that hasn’t been able to write about a Longhorns NCAA Tournament win since 2014. My guess is that changes this week against Nevada before Cincinatti just overwhelms Texas on Sunday. From that point forward, I’m all in on Bob Huggins and the Mountaineers.
Michael Miller (The Smoking Musket): Hey, y’all. My name’s Michael Miller and I’m the Managing Editor at The Smoking Musket. Our West Virginia Mountaineers are the No. 5-seed in the East region, playing our opening game against the Murray State Racers in noted East coast destination, San Diego, California.
Jonny Brashear (Barking Carnival): Hi, I’m Bitterwhiteguy, the guy from the other Texas site. No, not that one, the other one. It’s called Barking Carnival, and based upon our traffic numbers this is probably your first time hearing about us. We’re like Burnt Orange Nation’s snarkier, sarcastic, less prolific brother. On Friday at ~3:30 PM CT, we’re watching Texas attempt to win its first tournament game sin-oh, Cody already covered that. I guess I’m done here.
Jack Shields (Crimson & Cream Machine): Hey there! I’m Jack Shields, and APPARENTLY my Oklahoma Sooners are playing something called Rhode Island at 11:15 on Thursday (12:15 for you West Virginia folk). We’re playing in Pittsburgh, so expect to see about 15 Crimson shirts in the crowd on television.
Eric Rubottom (Bring On The Cats): Eric Rubottom, aka The Big E, and I’m a basketball contributor for BOTC. K-State is a 9-seed in the South region, taking on Creighton on Friday afternoon in Charlotte.
Gallagher Martin (Cowboys Ride for Free): My name is Gallagher Martin and I’m a contributor for Cowboys Ride for Free. Oklahoma State was snubbed from the NCAA Tournament and will therefore play in the nation’s premiere postseason tournament, the NIT. Oklahoma State, a two-seed in the NIT, picked up an 80-68 win Tuesday night against Florida Gulf Coast. Oklahoma State will host Stanford in the second round Monday night.
Zach Mason (Viva the Matadors) Texas Tech is a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament and faces a tough opponent in No. 14 Stephen F. Austin in Dallas.
Andy Mitts (Rock Chalk Talk): The Kansas Jayhawks open up the Wichita, KS pod at 1pm against the Pennsylvania Quakers. Apparently, Penn is so underseeded that we should expect to see history on Thursday.
So the Big 12 only got 7 teams in the tournament, with two potentially deserving teams getting snubbed. Which one was the most surprising (either the fact they did/didn’t get a bid or the seed/region they received)?
Levi Stevenson (WRNL): Oklahoma was the most surprising, as their catastrophic tumble down the Big 12 standings in the final stretch of the season should have knocked them out. The star power of Trae Young is the only reason they’re in the tournament.
Oklahoma State is the most obvious snub. They’ve played good basketball of late, and have the resume of a bonafide NCAA at-large bid.
Melissa Triebwasser (FOW): I don’t think Baylor had much of a case this year, so I don’t think they were ‘snubbed’ necessarily. They had one exceptional stretch in conference play, but played a pretty weak preseason, and when your best out of conference win is over a 15-18 Wisconsin team, you can’t go 8-10 in conference play. Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State is, of course, the big question mark - if you swap Trae Young and Kendall Smith, and leave the records the same, there’s no question the Cowboys are dancing, right? I can see the committees reasoning for keeping OSU out… but not when they put OU in.
MN (ODB): There is a lot I could say here and already started to say above concerning snubs. First, I will counterpoint Melissa and note that Baylor’s best non-con win was actually a neutral-site game against Creighton, which earned an ‘A’ rank in Kenpom (‘A’ = adjusted top 50 win). Baylor also scheduled two tough back-to-back games, one at Xavier and the other home against Wichita State, that it lost. In the second half of the Xavier game, T.J. Maston (Big XII 6th Man of the Year) broke his hand and did not finish the game or play against the Shockers. The rest of the non-con schedule was easy, but Baylor didn’t play nobody, earned one decent win, and might have gotten another one if Maston hadn’t gotten injured. Baylor’s aggregate non-con was not strong, but it played two super high-level teams (one a true road game) without their best offensive forward for three of the four halves and played two top 100 quality neutral site games, both wins. That’s not nothing.
I think at least eight Big XII teams should have made it, possibly nine. I do feel bad for Oklahoma State, which put together a good resumé despite being a less than stellar statistical team. Baylor’s resume was slightly worse, but the Bears boast a superior statistical profile. The inclusion of Syracuse in the Tournament is the most galling to me. They were worse statistically than Oklahoma State and Baylor and lacked a signature win. Their best win all season was on the road against Louisville. That is a good win, but their non-con had zero highlights.
I don’t want to drag down the Big XII teams that made the Tourney too much. Texas’ resumé looks better because they lost to a number of good teams in the non-con, plus they beat Butler and Alabama. I’m not sure I really believe in Texas, though, and they don’t seem like an obviously better choice that OK State or Baylor just to watch them play. That’s the thing with the bubble, though; tough choices have to be made, and Texas’ tough non-con gave them an edge. OU...I don’t know. It’s fine the Sooners are in. Their non-con was good enough, I guess, and Trae Young is fun. I like fun.
My beef is more with some of the other choices the committee made. Those odd choices plus some mid-major tournaments finishing with surprising winners cost the Big XII one or two more teams.
Additionally, I think West Virginia was underseeded (*scene*).
Cody Daniel (BON): My only beef is with Oklahoma getting in over Oklahoma State. The Pokes beat the Sooners two out of three games, finished with a one more win on the season, and more notably, Oklahoma State didn’t lose 11 of its last 15 games. Any team that sweeps Kansas deserves a tourney bid.
Michael Miller (The Smoking Musket): Oklahoma getting a spot in the tournament, after they tanked their season, may be the most absurd decision the committee has ever made. Add in the fact that they left a perfectly deserving Oklahoma State team on the outside looking in, and it makes it even worse.
Jonny Brashear (BC): I see we’ve covered Oklahoma; I concur with them being seeded too high, by which I mean they’re not a NIT 1-seed. While it’s not just them (Texas being a 10 surprised me, and Arizona State probably should’ve been left out) the selection committee needs to reintroduce a method of comparing first half of the season to the last half if the records are significantly different. They liked to say that a win in November is just as important as a win in March, but that really doesn’t jive if a team is ascendant in November and burrowing through the Earth’s upper crust in March. Is there anyone outside of Norman picking Oklahoma to make the second weekend? Trae Young’s personal bracket probably has OU being bounced in the second round.
Jack (CCM): Well… this is awkward.
Here’s where I stand: Oklahoma State deserves to be in ahead of Oklahoma, but the Cowboys also deserve to be in ahead of Syracuse, Arizona State and a host of others. It became clear after the bracket preview (which was released about a month ago, maybe?) that Oklahoma had pretty much earned a bid by the end of January. Is part of that the “Trae Young Effect”? Sure, but it’s also a reflection of the committee’s unflinching focus on quadrants and RPI rankings. Oklahoma State deserves to be in over OU and a few others, but it sort of makes sense when taking the committee’s tremendously flawed methodology into account.
Side note: Jonny, no one inside of Norman thinks this team is getting past the first round. Readers have sincerely complained about the fact that we’re still writing about the team (as if we have a choice). It’s kind of wild, actually.
ER (BOTC): To me, the fact Oklahoma made the tourney shows just how transparent the selection committee is in favoring eyeballs over substance; and the fact they were somehow above the play-in round/last four in is bordering on being an utter farce. The Cowboys should have been in in their stead if we left it at 7 teams from the Big 12, especially considering the trajectory of each team over the past two months. I don’t care what you did in November and December if you were playing for a lottery pick in January and February. They’ve got the biggest beef on not getting in. As Melissa notes, I firmly believe that if Trae Young wears an orange jersey and all else equal, OSU is in and OU is watching. I also agree with Jack that ASU did essentially the same thing as OU and didn’t deserve to make it either, and the fact that a Middle Tennessee was also left at home is just a bad look for the committee.
Gallagher Martin (CRFF): Yes, I’m biased, but Oklahoma State was the biggest snub. This is where I stand: If Oklahoma State and Oklahoma both get left out, I can live with that. Baylor beat us convincingly twice; put them in over Oklahoma for all I care. Did Oklahoma deserve to be in? Ehhhh….maybe. But if Oklahoma is in, Baylor and Oklahoma State should be in as well. I just don’t understand how the conference’s ninth-best team gets in over the sixth and eighth best teams. I know the answer is Trae Young, but that’s still a tough pill to swallow. 70 percent of your conference making the tournament is an impressive feat, but in reality it probably should have been 80 percent.
Zach Mason (VTM) Oklahoma absolutely did not deserve to get in, but the NCAA needs to sell tickets. The surplus media hype surrounding Trae Young single-handedly catapulted the reeling Sooners into the Big Dance. What’s worse, the committee tossed Oklahoma a softball first round matchup - the weakest seven-seed in recent memory, Rhode Island - to justify their selection.
Andy Mitts (RCT): I’m on record as saying that I think there should be 9 Big 12 teams in the tournament, but if only 1 of Baylor, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State can be put in, it should have been OSU. The Selection Committee put out conflicting messages, both saying it didn’t matter when your big wins came, but also that your non-conference needed to be strong. But the main reason Oklahoma State got snubbed is the RPI, which is the most horrible metric of all time.
What are your expectations for your team in this tournament, or if your team is no longer playing, what do you expect them to do in the offseason to prepare for a better season next year?
Levi Stevenson (WRNL): The most important thing that can happen this summer is for the team to begin working in the new additions to the rotation. Transfers Marial Shayok and Michael Jacobsen will immediately become key rotation plays next season, so developing chemistry with those two will be crucial. Once they arrive on campus, at least two of the incoming freshmen will also be competing for significant playing time, so it will be a priority to ingrain them in the system.
On an individual basis, Solomon Young, Lindell Wigginton, Zoran Talley, Terrence Lewis, and Cam Lard will be focusing on adding tools to their games.
Solomon Young will be looking to improve in rim protection and passing, while gaining more confidence on a three point shot that he flashed multiple times last season.
Lindell Wigginton should place a priority on tightening up his handle and improving his decision-making, as he will likely be called on as the primary ballhandler.
Zoran Talley will undoubtedly be looking to add a consistent perimeter jump shot. Forcing defenders to guard him out to the three point line makes him significantly more dangerous as a passer and on drives to the paint.
Terrence Lewis showed some chops as a sharpshooter, gaining confidence in the final stretch of the season. He’ll be looking to become even more confident in his outside shot, as he will likely be looked to as a shooter off the bench.
Cam Lard will certainly be looking to add more finesse around the rim on the offensive end, as well as learning to play defense in the post without fouling. Beyond those two skills, his most crucial development will be in his ability to contain and refocus his raw emotion and passion. After tough calls or bad possessions, he would often be visibly upset and let it affect his play. Nobody wants Cam to lose his passion, but his ability to refocus his passion and frustration will be crucial to him hitting his enormous potential.
Melissa Triebwasser (FOW): My only hope/expectation is that the Frogs win one game. I don’t think that’s a guarantee, especially if they end up playing Arizona State, but getting to the Tournament and advancing to the second game would be a huge step forward for the program. If they lose the opening matchup, I will be very sad, because traveling to Detroit is very expensive.
TCU is in a great position going forward for a lot of reasons, but there will still be work to do when the dancing is done. The best part about the suddenness of the program’s rise is that we have only seen one full recruiting cycle under Jamie Dixon, so the influx of talent coming to Fort Worth should raise the bar even higher in 2018-2019. Losing guys like Kenrich Williams and Vladimir Brodziansky - both likely pros - hurts, but Alex Robinson returns and should be able to slide into more of a combo guard role with the return of a healthy Jaylen Fisher, Desmond Bane seems on the cusp of stardom, and there are four guys redshirting who should all be contributors a season from now.
I think the biggest question for the Frogs will be how/who they need to replace on the bench - at least two assistants have been mentioned as candidates for head coaching jobs. Apparently, there have been questions in the past about Jamie Dixon’s ability to hire the right coaches and develop them, but he has a crack staff now, so I’m not too worried.
Assuming the players develop at at least the same rate they did from last year to this heading into the following season, there’s a ton of reason for optimism around this program, and dreaming of the Sweet 16 in 2019 doesn’t seem all that unreasonable, strangely enough.
MN (ODB): Baylor’s NIT goal will be to reach New York. If they manage to reach the championship in what looks like an oddly strong NIT Tournament, Bears fans should be satisfied.
Summer goals: Start next season with double-digit scholarship players healthy. Baylor got down to seven healthy scholarship players at one point this season. Tough to win that way (unless you’re Kansas, I guess, who I swear only played four guys this year).
Assuming Makai Mason still comes in as a grad transfer, the Bears roster could really fill out despite losing four huge players to graduation. Mario Kegler (transfer from Mississippi State) and Freddie Gillespie (walk-on transfer from a DIII school) can add depth on the wing after sitting out this year, and hopefully 7’ Leonard Allen will be healthy after sitting out with a heart condition this year.
If the returning players continue on the steady development path that Scott Drew has managed to install over the last several seasons, Baylor should be alright. It’s unclear, though, just how good the Bears can actually be next season. The floor seems relatively high, but the ceiling feels like it might be rather low unless someone makes a big leap.
Cody Daniel (BON): My expectation is that Texas utilizes its size advantage against a Nevada squad whose tallest contributor is 6’7, and with the Wolf Pack playing only six players regularly, I’d expect the ‘Horns to force the issue offensively and steal a win with Nevada in foul trouble.
Beyond that point, though, Texas would likely see Cincinnati and given that team’s physicality and high-level defense, I find it difficult to believe Texas will have a realistic shot at the upset.
Michael Miller (The Smoking Musket): If there’s one thing I learned this season, it’s that it’s nearly impossible to get a feel for what this Mountaineer team is going to do. We could come out on Friday and get run over by the Racers or we could go on one of our unstoppable runs and find ourselves in the Elite 8. It’s best for West Virginia fans just to sit back, relax and enjoy our last few games with Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles Jr.
Jonny Brashear (BC): I expect my cortisol level to be printed in scientific notation during the last 10 minutes of the Texas - Nevada game because Texas is only comfortable in games decided by less than 6 points. Fun fact: being a Texas basketball fan is considered a preexisting condition for Medicaid recipients. Texas could get bounced in the first game or they could make the Elite Eight and neither would surprise me. Alright, I’m lying, an Elite Eight appearance would surprise the hell out of me. I have Texas losing to Cincinnati in the second round in my personal bracket, and there’s an argument to be made that I’m being too optimistic.
Jack (CCM): There’s been a lot of talk from this team about “quieting the doubters” and turning it around, but I’m not buying it. We’ve heard it before, and it’s been a load of crap each time. I’ve never been more disappointed in the effort of a team in my entire life. There’s no pulse. Lon Kruger is a good coach and a wonderful man, but he has lost this team. Rhode Island 88, Oklahoma 74.
ER (BOTC): Creighton and Marcus Foster versus K-State is certainly some kind of story, eh? I expect a close game on Friday, and if Dean Wade and Barry Brown are right, and Makol Mawien can expose the absence of Martin Krampelj, the Wildcats should come out on top. Anything less than 100% from Dean and Barry probably send the Cats home after the first round. After that, I have the homer pick of K-State pulling off the upset over Virginia with the De’Andre Hunter injury, but pragmatically, the second round is probably the end of the road for K-State.
Gallagher Martin (CRFF): I think Oklahoma State should be aiming for a trip to Madison Square Garden. To do that, the Cowboys will need to make the semifinals. Perhaps the biggest NCAA Tournament snub, USC, is the #1 seed on Oklahoma State’s side of the bracket. That worries me a little, but the Trojans needed double-overtime to fend off UNC-Asheville Tuesday night, so maybe the Cowboys should be the favorite in Region 3. Oklahoma State fans would love to win the NIT, and as long as we face anyone other than Baylor, I like our chances. Even if we face Baylor in the championship, it’s hard to beat a team three times in a year. But the Cowboys need to take it one game at a time, starting with Stanford.
Zach Mason (VTM) The fate of the Red Raiders lies in the health of Keenan Evans and Zach Smith. Tech lost five of its last seven games entering Big 12 Tournament play thanks to lingering injuries for both its senior stars. If Evans and Smith are at 100 percent, there’s absolutely a possibility this team makes a trip to San Antonio. If not, it could be an early upset and a disappointing end to an otherwise superb season. The Red Raiders have struggled, at times, getting the ball in the basket. Their exceptional defense has made up for some weak offensive outings, but if Tech comes up against a gifted offense and Keenan Evans has an off night, Chris Beard’s team would be hard-pressed to escape that game with a win.
Andy Mitts (RCT): KU was gifted with a pretty wide open path to the Elite Eight, where they will face likely their biggest test of the tournament. The emergence of Silvio De Sousa gives me hope that they can make it into the Final Four, but really the only expectation is another frustrating loss just a round before once again.
Which Big 12 team do you see getting the furthest in the tournament this year? Which of the top 4 seeds do you see getting upset the earliest?
Levi Stevenson (WRNL): Kansas has the easiest path, a ton of experience, and is playing really good basketball right now, so it’s hard to pick against Bill Self. *pukes*
Virginia losing one of their best offensive threats immediately makes the Fighting Tony Bennetts vulnerable.
Melissa Triebwasser (FOW): Kansas is the obvious, and probably correct, answer of course, and, as Levi said above, they have a pretty easy path to the Final Four, relatively. I do think WVU can make a run, if they can score enough, because they are so hard to prepare for in this type of tournament. I really like the way their path lays out, too, so don’t be surprised if they’re the last team standing from the Big 12.
MN (ODB): Kansas clearly has the best chance to go deep, but I feel oddly confidant in WVU. All Kansas needs is one cold shooting game to go down, but WVU can claw their way to a win in the ugliest ways. I’ll pick WVU to get the furthest (but don’t expect my bracket to reflect that!).
Xavier needs to watch out for the combined power of the Porter Bros. and Mizzou.
Cody Daniel (BON): I would love to say West Virginia, but it’s hard to pick against Kansas considering how easy that path could prove to be. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jayhawks find themselves in the Elite Eight.
And my money is on Virginia becoming the first 1-seed to fall.
Michael Miller (The Smoking Musket): As much as I hate to say it, I think Kansas has a real chance to make the Final Four. If the Jayhawks can get a couple of those games together where they shoot 72% in a half, they can win it all.
As for the first No. 1-seed to fall? My gut says Xavier.
Jonny Brashear (BC): Texas Tech is the only Big 12 team I have making the Elite Eight; I get why people think Kansas will make it far and they very well may, but a team as reliant upon the three as the Jayhawks always runs the risk of going cold. If Udoka is limited, they get significantly more beatable. I like Texas Tech’s draw and I think the world is going to find out about Keenan Evans (if he’s healthy) in this tournament. Out of the top 4 seed lines, Auburn seems like the obvious candidate to get bounced. While Virginia losing their 6th Man of the Year is a big deal, that defense is still a boa constrictor slowly swallowing their opponent and I think they make it pretty far.
ER (BOTC): I’ve currently got KU into the Elite 8 as the Big 12 team making it the furthest. I have my doubts Dok will be as effective as he needs to be to really get the Jayhawks to balance out - but KU won’t see a good defensive team until Michigan State or Duke in the Elite 8. As for the 1-seeds, I’m only seeing Villanova through to the Final Four - I think Xavier and Virginia both get bounced in the Sweet 16.
Gallagher Martin (CRFF): If Tech can get past S.F. Austin in a tricky opening round game in Dallas, I could see the Red Raiders making a nice run. With a healthy Keenan Evans, I could see them going all the way to San Antonio. Kansas has a favorable draw, so we could very well see a TTU-KU final four, which I think favors Tech if Evans is healthy. West Virginia, which is a five-seed, should be taken seriously as well.
Zach Mason (VTM) I actually don’t have any Big 12 teams in my bracket advancing to the Final Four, but I think West Virginia is more than capable of causing problems for Villanova if the two teams meet in the Elite Eight. I don’t think the Wildcats have faced a team as aggressive defensively as the Mountaineers, but I’m just not confident in Bob Huggins’ team to score the ball with enough efficiency to beat the nation’s No. 1 offense. Also, Kansas is overrated. And call me crazy, but I think if Kansas State makes it to the second round, they have a real shot at beating Virginia.
Andy Mitts (RCT): I’ve either got both Kansas and Texas Tech making it to the Final Four, or both losing in the Elite Eight. I’m not sure which is going to happen, but if they can make the Final Four, I have the Jayhawks winning the title.
How many Big 12 teams do you think make it to the second weekend (and which ones)?
Levi Stevenson (WRNL): Kansas and West Virginia have the best chance at moving on. Beyond that, I think we’re going to see a ton of Big 12 teams go down in the first two rounds.
Melissa Triebwasser (FOW): Kansas and West Virginia for sure, but I won’t be shocked if Texas is still standing - I think they can lose their first game or beat Cincinnati. Who knows with that team. I haven’t ever done this with TCU actually playing, so let me put my purple colored glass on and say TCU upsets Michigan State in Detroit hahahaahahaahhahahahhahahaha.
MN (ODB): Three: KU, WVU, and Texas Tech.
Cody Daniel (BON): Kansas, West Virginia, and Texas Tech, and I think the Sweet 16 is as far as the Mountaineers and Red Raiders make it.
Michael Miller (The Smoking Musket): I’m gonna follow the hivemind and say Kansas, West Virginia and Texas Tech will be playing in the Sweet 16.
Jonny Brashear (BC): I didn’t realize this until after finishing out my bracket, but the round of 32 is a Big 12 bloodbath; only Tech made it out alive. I took an admittedly big risk picking Seton Hall over Kansas and will probably pay dearly for it, but in the end nothing really matters on this enormous rock hurtling through space, waiting for the inevitable extinction level event to end our pointless existence. This comment was brought to you by @Nihilist_BC: visit Barking Carnival. Or don’t, we all die any way.
Jack (CCM): I don’t have a Big 12 team in my Final Four, but Kansas obviously has a real shot. Graham and Svi are battle-tested and have enough help around them (provided that Udoka is good to go) to make a real run. Tech has the makeup of a team that can do some things and make a bit of a run, but postseason experience is my issue there as far as a sustained run is concerned. As is usually the case with WVU, the concern is obviously over whether their style will translate to tourney play. I do think every team not named Oklahoma or Texas will at least make it to the Round of 32. The days of this league having a great regular season and a subpar postseason end now, maybe!
ER (BOTC): I’m on Matt’s page - KU, WVU, and TTU all make the second weekend. I’ve got the K-State homer pick on my bracket, but I don’t really think they’ll get there.
Gallagher Martin (CRFF): I have confidence in West Virginia, Kansas, and Tech to make the Sweet 16. I also think Texas will surprise some people by beating Nevada and Cincinnati. I don’t think K-State will make it to the second weekend, but with the injury bug hitting Virginia, it’s now a possibility.
Zach Mason (VTM) I’ve got West Virginia, Texas Tech and Kansas making it to the Sweet 16.
Andy Mitts (RCT): I’ve got most of the same teams as everyone else (KU, TTU, WVU), but I also see TCU upsetting an overrated Michigan team to earn the right to lose to Duke in the Sweet 16.
Biggest Upset of the tournament?
Levi Stevenson (WRNL): No. 14 Stephen F. Austin over No. 3 Texas Tech.
Melissa Triebwasser (FOW): New Mexico State over Clemson has that classic 12 over 5 feel to it, but my shocker is going to be Florida getting bounced by the Bonnies in round one.
MN (ODB): I agree with Melissa about Clemson. Boring, I know.
Cody Daniel (BON): 14 SFA over 3 Texas Tech.
Michael Miller (The Smoking Musket): I don’t know if it’ll be the biggest, but Marshall beating Wichita State to set up Friends of Coal Basketbrawl in the second round is probably going to lead to the entire state of West Virginia collapsing in on itself.
Jonny Brashear (BC): Loyola-Chicago seems like a popular upset pick and I tend to agree with it, even though Pomeroy rates that game nearly a toss-up. I picked Davidson over Kentucky; in part because I’m not entirely convinced Kentucky has figured everything out, in part because I think Davidson could shoot well enough from three to pull the upset, and in part because I want everyone to be deprived of the Arizona - Kentucky game everybody wants to wish into existence. I’m not above trolling via bracketology. (See also: Providence over Texas A&M)
Jack (CCM): I’ve got St. Bonaventure beating GATA and Loyola-Chicago beating Miami. The fact that I attended grad school in Tallahassee may or may not have something to do with that.
ER (BOTC): NMSU over Clemson (Zach Lofton and Jemerrio Jones are ballers, and I’m not sold on Clemson at all, regardless of their metrics); San Diego State over Houston, and I’ve got all the 10’s except Oklahoma advancing to the second round.
Gallagher Martin (CRFF): Loyola-Chicago over Miami, Wright State over Tennessee, New Mexico State over Clemson, and Marshall over Wichita State are the upsets I’m calling. I don’t really have any rhyme or reason for them, other than it’s March and anything can happen.
Zach Mason (VTM): I’ve got South Dakota State beating Ohio State and San Diego State beating Houston and then Michigan before losing to North Carolina.
Andy Mitts (RCT): I’ve got Buffalo upsetting Arizona AND Montana upsetting Michigan
Who’s your darkhorse Final Four candidate (6 seed or lower)?
Ed Note: The definition of “darkhorse” wasn’t added until about halfway through the answers, so we’ll let Cody’s answer count.
Levi Stevenson (WRNL): Alabama. We’ve seen talented PGs single-handedly drag average teams deep into the tournament before (UConn, Davidson, etc.), and Collin Sexton is an absolute beast. If they can take down Villanova, I think they have a difficult, but not impossible, road to the Final Four.
Melissa Triebwasser (FOW): Normally, I would have a much better read on teams outside the Big 12, but with TCU actually being good this year, I haven’t had the time to follow college hoops how I normally would. That being said, I think NMSU is really good and could make a run. Which definitely means they’re losing in the first round. Don’t listen to me. It’s a terrible idea.
MN (ODB): Is Miami a low enough seed to call them a dark horse? Probably not. If I have to pick a double-digit seed, then I guess Providence. Cartwright can get hot, and the Friars gave Xavier and Villanova all they could handle in the Big East tournament.
Cody Daniel (BON): I’m not sure if they can be considered a darkhorse given the brand, but my pick is Kentucky. This has been far from the Wildcats best season, but yet, John Calipari has his youngest team ever peaking win it matters. Kentucky has now won seven of eight, and is fresh off of a SEC title.
Michael Miller (The Smoking Musket): I don’t think any 6-seed or lower stands a chance at the Final Four but I feel like if anyone is going to do it, it’s going to be the Virginia Tech Hokies. Buzz Williams is The Worst Person in the World and will use his evil powers to ruin someone’s day, just as he did against UVA and Duke this season.
Jonny Brashear (BC): There have only been nine 6-or-lower Final Four teams in the past 16 years so there’s not a lot of history for those teams making it to the final weekend, but if you’re going by Pomeroy rankings it’s worth considering that the majority of Final Four participants have an adjusted defensive & offensive efficiency in the top-50 nationally. Out of the 6 & below crowd, that leaves Houston, Florida, and Butler with Virginia Tech, Miami, and Missouri just a bit outside those numbers. How many of those teams do your trust to win four games in a row? I guess Missouri could punch above its weight if Michael Porter, Jr. shakes the rust off before the tourney starts, but none of these options thrill me.
Jack (CCM): I have Nevada for now, but I might bail on that. They haven’t looked terribly solid since Lindsey Drew went down. Houston is one team that could make a serious run. I really like their chances in the first two rounds (overseeded Michigan would be the likely opponent in the second round), and you know I have a soft spot for Kelvin Sampson.
ER (BOTC): I just don’t see one. Put a gun to my head, and I’ll take Alabama - Collin Sexton is just gone nuts recently - or Butler...but they’ll have to take out Purdue, TTU and Villanova to do it. Don’t see that happening.
Gallagher Martin (CRFF): I think the South region is up for grabs, and I’m serious when I say I think Texas could make a run. However, Texas could also lose to Nevada in the first round. I’m also high on Florida State out of the West Region.
Zach Mason (VTM): Providence. I think they’ll squeeze by Texas A&M in the first round, then they could ride an on-fire Kyron Cartwright past North Carolina. If the Friars can get past the Tar Heels, in my bracket, they’d face either No. 11 San Diego State or a wildly overrated Michigan team that played in a historically bad Big 10 Conference. Cartwright would have to stay on fire to beat Xavier in the Elite 8...well this is never going to happen, but honestly, it never really does.
Andy Mitts (RCT): The only one I think is even remotely likely would be the winner of a TCU/OU game. Trae Young is still capable of going off, and Duke could potentially be vulnerable in a second game of the week, and I think TCU matches up well against a Michigan State team that wasn’t done any favors playing in an extremely easy Big Ten. From there, I could see either one catching Kansas in the Elite Eight to crash the Final Four. In terms of a team that could just ball out and knock down a ton of teams to get there, watch for San Diego State, which is an experienced squad that could shock the world.
What is the craziest thing that is going to happen the first weekend of the tournament? Anything crazier coming in second or third weekend?
Levi Stevenson (WRNL): Loyola (Chicago), South Dakota State, and Stephen F. Austin all win, and Penn takes Kansas down to the wire before eventually losing by 6.
Melissa Triebwasser (FOW): At least one number one seed is going down before the Sweet 16, Texas makes the second weekend, Trae Young becomes a studio commentator immediately following OU’s loss.
MN (ODB): Trae Young gets his first dunk of the season against Duke to seal the game, Dennis Smith Jr. style.
More reasonably, at least two one seeds will be upset in the Round of 32.
Cody Daniel (BON): Texas will win an NCAA Tournament game. Yeah, pretty crazy, huh?
Michael Miller (The Smoking Musket): Trae Young leads the Sooners to a first round loss, but is somehow still compared to Steph Curry and Michael Jordan in post-game analysis. Also, St. Bonaventure and Loyola-Chicago both win their first round matchup.
Jonny Brashear (BC): Reggie Miller provides cogent analysis of a basketball game.
For the second weekend: Texas and Tennessee meet in the Sweet Sixteen, where my unrequited love of both Rick Barnes, Texas, and Shaka Smart causes me to smash all my electronics rather than find out how that game ends. I could see the day before that game turning into a personal version of the South Park where Cartman takes a dump on Mr. Garrison’s desk to avoid fighting Wendy; I go out two hours before the game and punch a cop so I’m in prison instead of watching basketball hell unfold before me.
Jack (CCM): I think Grayson Allen is going to do something dirty-ish and hijack the conversation surrounding the tournament. Most of y’all would prefer something like that over hearing about Trae Young for another second, so there ya go. I predict that this incident happens against Jared Terrell of Rhode Island after he gets in Allen’s head (Terrell is really good, btw).
ER (BOTC): If we’re looking at pure bat-s**t crazy: KU loses to Penn, OU makes it through the first weekend behind Trae Young’s 40ppg/15apg, and three 1-seeds are done before next week. If we’re looking at what I actually think will be the craziest thing in the first two rounds, it’s all of the 1’s, 2’s, 3’s and 4’s making it out of the first round.
Gallagher Martin (CRFF): The craziest thing that could happen is a 16 seed over a 1 seed. A lot of people are calling Penn over Kansas, and that would make my day. Maybe we’ll see a fist-fight between Trae Young and Grayson Allen in the second round. That would also make my day.
Zach Mason (VTM): Trae Young is going to set a tournament record for turnovers in a game trying to do too much to show his Sooners were worthy for selection.
Andy Mitts (RCT): I’m not seeing anything crazier other than the upsets I picked, other than Grayson Allen doing something stupid, finally injuring someone, and sparking a brawl.
Who do you have making the Final Four, Championship Game, and winning it all?
Levi Stevenson (WRNL): Cincy, Nova, Michigan State, and Xavier. Michigan State is your 2018 Champion.
Melissa Triebwasser (FOW): Virginia, West Virginia, Michigan, and Duke in the Final Four, Duke and Michigan in the Championship, Duke wins it all (puke).
MN (ODB): Final Four: Cincinnati, North Carolina, Villanova, Michigan State. Cincinnati over Villanova for the title.
Cody Daniel (BON): Kentucky, North Carolina, Villanova, Michigan State (Yeah, I’m that guy that picked all blue bloods, and will definitely be wrong). I think Nova takes the cake again this season.
Michael Miller (The Smoking Musket): West Virginia (I do not feel good about this at all), Michigan State, Tennessee and North Carolina. North Carolina over Michigan State in the championship.
Jonny Brashear (BC): Villanova, Virginia, Duke, and Gonzaga, with Villanova beating Gonzaga for the title. Yes, I’m picking a Jay Wright team. I don’t have any confidence in the pick, either.
Jack (CCM): Villanova, Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan State. I’ve got Nova beating UNC again in a rematch from two seasons ago. I would’ve taken UVA to go all the way, but I chickened out after De’Andre Hunter was ruled out.
ER (BOTC): I’ve got Cincy / Gonzaga, and Nova / Sparty, with Gonzaga and Villanova making it to the championship game. I think Nova comes out on top.
Gallagher Martin (CRFF): Let’s have some fun, shall we? I’ve got Kentucky, Florida State, Texas Tech, and Kansas in the Final 4, with Tech beating Kentucky for the national championship. With a healthy Keenan Evans and one of the best defenses in the country, Tech could actually win a championship.
Zach Mason (VTM) Arizona, Xavier, Villanova, Michigan State. Nova beats Zona for their second title in three years, Jay Wright gets a 90-year extension.
Andy Mitts (RCT): I think mine is pretty boring, with Cincinnati, North Carolina, Villanova and Kansas. KU wins over UNC.
Any final parting thoughts?
Levi Stevenson (WRNL): *booing and hissing from the upper deck*
Melissa Triebwasser (FOW): I have to admit, it’s way more fun on this side of things.
MN (ODB): At least I can watch basketball as it should be played: with four quarters and no one-and-one free throws.
Cody Daniel (BON): You don’t need luck when Texas is back (in the NCAA Tournament).
Jonny Brashear (BC): WHAT THE HELL ARE QUARTERS
Seriously, is that Millennial slang for an orgy or something? Is it an app? Do they have an emoji for this? I don’t read enough Urban Dictionary to keep up.
Michael Miller (The Smoking Musket): THIS. IS. MARCH.
Jack (CCM): I’m just ready for this to be over with already so I can get back to bitching about Mike Stoops. For the record, Trae Young is one of the nicest kids you will ever meet, and I hate what ESPN has done to him with all of the oversaturation. However, I don’t blame any of you for feeling a certain way about him. It’s to the point that Oklahoma fans are sick of hearing about him, too, which is saying something.
ER (BOTC): QUARTERS ARE FOR FOOTBALL.
I’m just waiting to see what K-State fans are going to bitch about Bruce Weber this offseason with two potential first-team All-Big 12 players coming back. And Jack - I like Trae Young as a person and he’s obviously a very good player; it’s completely unfair what the national media has done to him. I’m more fed up with ESPN/FOX/CBS/etc than with Trae and the Sooners.
Gallagher Martin (CRFF): Boycott the NCAA Tournament and watch the NIT instead! Go Pokes!
Zach Mason (VTM) All these idiots picking SFA over Texas Tech will be plastered on the Freezing Cold Takes Twitter account this time tomorrow.
Levi Stevenson (WRNL): Yeah….I remember feeling pretty invincible as a 3-seed a few years ago…
Andy Mitts (RCT): I’m hoping that this is the year that the Big 12 finally lives up to its reputation as the toughest conference in the nation. And thanks to everyone for jumping in and making this as entertaining as it is.
Good luck to all of those participating in the postseason this year.