For the first time in the modern era, everyone in my family is happy with the NCAA basketball tournament selections. My son went to Indiana; everyone else graduated from Mizzou. I’ve been a life-long Billiken fan. My brother went to Michigan, and lived across the street from Michigan State. This time, all these schools are in.
This field of 68 includes something for everyone.
I guess I could bet with my heart or my head. How about a Billiken-Mizzou final game in the West regional in Phoenix?
Special congratulations are in order for Rick Majerus and his Billikens who beat Oklahoma, Washington, Boston College, Xavier and other powerful teams this season to earn a berth outright with a sparkling 25-7 record. The only time they really stubbed their toes was an embarrassing road loss to lowly Rhode Island at the end of the Atlantic 10 campaign.
Missouri, with a 30-4 record in the brutal Big 12 could make it all the way to New Orleans. Their opener with Norfolk State is a cupcake.
However, Mizzou, which likes to put four guards on the floor simultaneously has just seven scholarship players. That could be pause for concern in this grinding schedule coming up.
Most feel, the winner of a Mizzou-Marquette game will reach New Orleans March 31.
The Billikens, seeded 9th have a real uphill climb. They rarely have had success with Memphis (26-8), a team they lost to often in the Metro and Missouri Valley conferences.
Should the Bills win over Memphis in Columbus, Ohio, they would face No. 1 seed Michigan State next likely. That’s a tall order.
The tournament has some really interesting match-ups. I like Wichita State over VCU, and I like the South Dakota Jack Rabbits over Baylor in a stunner.
In the smart department, you gotta love the brainy opener, Harvard versus Vanderbilt. Wisconsin is a No. 4 seed in the East and they’ve had a really great season.
I invite our Ladue-Frontenac hoopologists to send me your final 4. Tell me how the final 4 shapes up in New Orleans and who do you think will win?
I’d love to compare notes.
I’d say this year’s sleepers are: Wisconsin, New Mexico State; San Diego State and maybe St. Mary’s.
In the how did they get in category, the Bonnies of St. Bonaventure (20-11) out of the Atlantic 10 won their way in with the post-season tournament title over Xavier. The Bills clobbered them in the regular season.
So let the action begin Thursday night. Fill out those brackets and stay tuned to CBS. Someone will be crowned champion April 2 in New Orleans. Might as well be the Tigers or SLU.