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More Tournament Thoughts

This year’s field is harder than usual to completely get wrong.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Four Practice
Mar 14, 2022; Dayton, OH, USA; General view of the ball going through the net during practice the day before the start of the First Four of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at UD Arena.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

As the tournament draws closer, like everyone, we are getting a better idea of the field. Not that it matters. Everything will start turning to dust Thursday. Here are some more notes before the bracketocalypse begins.

Let’s start in Dayton and let’s also acknowledge that Gem City has been a wonderful host for the First Four. It’s still a goofy concept but the city has embraced it and made it something very cool.

On Tuesday, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi opens with Texas Southern. We’ll go with Texas Southern here.

In the nightcap we like what we’ve learned about Wyoming. Hunter Maldonado is a 6-7 point guard and we like what we’ve learned about him. And 6-9 Graham Ike has a 7-5 wingspan. They keep pounding it inside to him over and over and over.

Also, IU has been erratic and not always smart.

Here’s one other surprising fact. We would never have guessed this: Wyoming’s home court is 7,220 feet above sea level. No one’s is higher.

Good luck getting those guys gassed.

In the West, we think that Gonzaga’s second-round game is going to be tougher than a lot of people think, no matter who they play.

First, Boise State is consistently overshadowed by Gonzaga and that could be a factor. More importantly, Leon Rice is a former Mark Few assistant and knows what the Zags are likely to do.

But that would mean getting past Memphis and we don’t think that’s happening. The Tigers were dreadful early, a train wreck in fact. But they got themselves together and now they are a very, very dangerous team. And while we admire Gonzaga immensely, we don’t think they like physically talented teams very much.

Still thinking about UConn and New Mexico State. NMSU is one of those teams that’s periodically incredibly dangerous.

You know how occasionally you see mid-major teams with five seniors who look like YMCA players and they cut more talented teams to shreds?

That’s Vermont. We’d give them a good look against Arkansas.

Alabama is wildly inconsistent. They’ll get the winner of Rutgers vs. Notre Dame. Rutgers is a blast and as gutty a team as there is in the field. They’ll play Notre Dame first and then Bama and then who knows? We love Rutgers. Everyone should aspire to that kind of grittiness.

There’s no reason why Texas Tech won't advance. In fact, that’s the sort of team that probably keeps Mark Few up at night.

Michigan State and Duke should advance also.

In the East, no reason to think Baylor would lose. The more we think about it, the more we like Marquette over UNC although Armando Bacot is still a major challenge.

Still not sure about St. Mary’s and Wyoming, assuming we’re right and they beat Indiana.

We’ll have to come back to UCLA and Akron.

Just going down the rest of the bracket...Virginia Tech over Texas, Purdue over Yale, Murray State over San Francisco and Kentucky over St. Peter’s.

Arizona obviously will move on. We just don’t think that highly of Jamie Dixon which is why we’re picking Seton Hall over TCU although the Big 12 is great prep for the post-season.

Houston-UAB needs a closer look. Illinois should take out Chattanooga.

Colorado State and Michigan is another that needs a more careful look. We have a decent feel for Michigan and a healthy respect for Niko Medved of CSU.

Tennessee: Longwood doesn’t have a chance.

Remember last year when Ohio State lost to Oral Roberts? Chris Holtmann can’t be happy about seeing Loyola Chicago. The Buckeyes have teetered and a tough defensive team could knock them right over.

Villanova’s still a lock.

Turning to the Midwest, Kansas is also a lock. We’ll come back to Creighton-San Diego State and also Iowa and Richmond. We’re leaning to South Dakota State over PC.

LSU is either going to be emotionally crushed or unbelievably hyped after Will Wade got canned. We’ll go with damaged and take Iowa State.

Is Johnny Davis good to go? If not, you have to consider upset potential. If he is though, forget it.

The more we think about it, the more we like Miami over USC. There’s no way Jackson State takes Auburn but we could see the ‘Canes taking down Auburn if they both advance.

One we forgot: Wright State over Bryant.