Tournament fun

The Madness is here.

I could go line-by-line and tell you who I’m picking to win each and every game, but honestly, am I going to change anyone’s mind about how to fill their pool bracket?

For fun, of course. Not at all for money.

‘Cause that’s not legal.

But that’s not important.

What we’re doing today is picking a few first-round upsets, the ones that get Gus Johnson screaming at the top of his lungs and end up making CBS so much money.

And here are your candidates…

No. 12 Arizona over No. 5 Utah – I don’t know if this would even be an upset, as the folks in Vegas have installed the lower-seeded Wildcats as a 3.5-point favorite. But as far as the seeds go, it qualifies.

Utah owns a win over Gonzaga back on New Year’s Eve and is riding the momentum of winning the Mountain West Conference Tournament. The Runnin’ Utes also have four players averaging double digits, led by 7-2 Aussie center Luke Nevill.

Here’s the problem. They’re only seven deep, which might make Arizona’s pace a bit too much for them. I think if this game leaves the 60s, Utah probably won’t survive.

No. 11 Utah State over No. 6 Marquette – This season had so much promise for the Golden Eagles. But that was before the season-ending injury to all-everything point guard Dominic James. Since then, they’ve lost five of six – granted, all against ranked teams.

Utah State isn’t ranked, but they probably could be with a sterling 30-4 record. Now, the schedule isn’t overwhelming, but the Aggies do have the firepower (Gary Wilkinson 17.1 PPG, 6.9 RPG) and the bodies (nine guys average around double-digit minutes) to push past the Eagles.

No. 10 Maryland over No. 7 California –Is there a more unpredictable team than Coach Gary Williams’ Terps?

Part of the reason why they are hard to pin down – in both good and bad ways – is their point guard, Greivis Vasquez. He leads the team in points, rebounds and assists, dazzling passes, “how’d he do that” moments and eight other stat categories.

It’s the senior guard theory. Anytime a tournament matchup features two evenly-matched teams, always pick the one with the best guard, giving a slight edge to seniors.

Cal’s got talent and a knack for hitting three-pointers. But I have a feeling that those good looks that might have been there in the Pac 10 won’t be there against a hungry, if unstable, Maryland squad.

No. 12 Western Kentucky over No. 5 Illinois –I don’t want to be accused of hating on the Big 10 – otherwise known as the most offensively challenged conference in the land – but I find it hard to believe that the Illini can win this game without their starting point guard, Chester Frazier.

His 5.7 points a game don’t concern me. It’s the 5.3 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals that will harm Illinois’ chances of topping the, well, Hilltoppers.

Western Kentucky has two dynamic players in Orlando Mendez-Valdez and A.J. Slaughter, and I’m guessing they cash in on the Illini’s misfourtune.

A pair of nines beats a pair of eights –They’re not really upsets, but I also like Tennessee over Oklahoma State and Butler over LSU in a couple of the 8-9 games.

No real logic here, just hunches.

Enjoy the tournament everyone. Just try to be discreet at work…



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