By Austen Bundy
Viva Loudoun High School Intern
(March 17, 2014) – Let the Madness begin! The NCAA officially released the 2014 Tournament bracket at 6 p.m. Sunday night and the debate has already begun about the teams who made it and who were snubbed.
The NCAA committee uses a wide variety of statistics to decide who makes the tournament but one unique test they use is called the “Eye-Test.” This is where each committee member watches every single game in its entirety starting from the last week of the regular season and through the conference championships in order to determine which teams are getting hot and which are starting to lose their touch.
The committee capped off the 68 team pool with a No. 1 seed for each of the four regions: Florida, Virginia, Arizona and Wichita State.
Florida, alright I get that. They were the No. 1 seed overall going in.
Virginia, last year they struggled but now they seem strong enough to go far after winning the ACC over Duke.
Arizona, they were No. 1 most of the regular season but started losing late, that’s an iffy call.
But Wichita State? Granted they were undefeated but the Shockers did not play one top 25 team at all this season. There’s the NCAA’s first mistake. I applaud the Shockers’ effort and success this season but they did not deserve a No. 1 seed by far. Maybe a No. 2 or 3 seed but No. 1 should have gone to Michigan or Wisconsin.
Georgetown, a local team who has made the tournament quite frequently and won, was left out this year. Most likely because of their struggling record of 17-14. However, it was nice to see local schools such as the neighboring universities of George Washington and American make the Big Dance this year.
Anyways, let’s take a look at the first round games.
Albany vs. Mount St. Mary’s: Both teams will be interesting to watch but I think the Great Danes of Albany are hungrier and will take down the Mountaineers of Mount St. Mary’s which features Potomac Falls grad Greg Graves off the bench
Cal Poly vs. Texas Southern: Texas Southern has played well all year and would look like the obvious favorite on paper against the 13-19 Mustangs. However, I see an upset in the works here.
N.C. State vs. Xavier: These two teams are at a caliber where they both could do well if they made it in. I do have to pick a winner unfortunately, so here I have to go with Xavier.
Iowa vs. Tennessee: Again, a thriller of a match-up but Iowa has upset some major teams this year in the Big Ten Conference such as Ohio State and Michigan, so I’ve got to go with the Hawkeyes here.
Second Round Games:
Florida vs. Albany: This is an easy one; the Gators will steamroll over Albany.
Colorado vs. Pittsburgh: This is going to be a close game but Colorado’s talent and agility pulls off the win.
VCU vs. SF Austin: The Rams from Richmond are too strong for the Lumberjacks and move on swiftly to the next round.
UCLA vs. Tulsa: Tulsa snuck into the tournament in the first place so they would be an easy opponent for the Bruins to beat up on.
Ohio State vs. Dayton: The battle of Ohio will be hyped up but the Buckeyes will be too much for the aspiring Flyers.
Syracuse vs. Western Michigan: Western who? Easy win for the Orange.
New Mexico vs. Stanford: Now here is an exciting match-up. The Lobos are hungry for victory but the Cardinals will stand tall and pull out a dramatic win over New Mexico.
Kansas vs. Eastern Kentucky: The Hilltoppers almost made the Sweet 16 last year but the Kansas Jayhawks are too good this year.
Virginia vs. Coastal Carolina: Could the “coast” schools make another run? Not against the Cavs, if they can beat Duke then who knows how far they’ll go.
Memphis vs. George Washington: Here’s my first upset alert. The Colonials will take down the Tigers in dramatic fashion.
Cincinnati vs. Harvard: The two-time Ivy League champions had somewhat of a Cinderella story last year and have the chance to do it again this year. That run will start with a victory over the Bear-Cats.
Michigan State vs. Delaware: Although I’d like to see the Blue Hens take out Sparty, it seems highly improbable.
North Carolina vs. Providence: The Friars were able to knock-off top teams in the Big East this year but the Tar Heels will be too much to handle.
Iowa State vs. N.C. Central: The Cyclones made a pretty good run last year and it looks like they’ll be set up to do it again with a win against the Eagles.
Connecticut vs. Saint Joe’s: Another upset alert. Saint Joe’s won the A-10 conference over VCU and the Huskies are no tougher than the Rams.
Villanova vs. UW-Milwaukee: No Cinderella story here, ‘Nova takes the easy win to set up the battle for Philly against St. Joe’s.
Arizona vs. Weber State: The Wildcats are the number one seed so another easy win here.
Gonzaga vs. Oklahoma State: Another thriller of a game early in the tournament but the Bulldogs from Gonzaga will dramatically finish the Cowboy’s season early.
Oklahoma vs. North Dakota State: The Bison will put up a fight, just like last year, but will fall to the Sooners.
San Diego State vs. New Mexico State: The Aztecs always start off well but their fate is up in the air after defeating New Mexico St.
Baylor vs. Nebraska: The Bears looked good throughout the season but the Cornhuskers from Nebraska will take the tight win.
Creighton vs. UL-Lafayette: The Ragin’ Cajuns look like another one of those Cinderella stories but the “Secret Weapon” Doug McDermott will contribute to the win for the Blue Jays.
Oregon vs. BYU: The Cougars of BYU are riddled with injuries and with super-star Jimmer Fredette in the NBA, the Ducks will take this one.
Wisconsin vs. American: The Eagles are coming off of a strong end-of-season push but the Badgers of Wisconsin will swat American out of the picture.
Wichita State vs. Cal Poly: The Shockers won’t shock anyone this time, easily beating the Mustangs in the second round.
Kentucky vs. Kansas State: The Wildcats almost took the SEC title from the Gators but lost by a mere point. Kansas State won’t be much of a challenge for Kentucky.
Saint Louis vs. Xavier: The Bilikins went far last year and Xavier will put up a fight but Saint Louis will come out the victor.
Louisville vs. Manhattan: The Cardinals from Louisville are going to be eating NY style bagels after this victory.
UMass vs. Iowa: The Hawkeyes will be the only “play-in” team to make the round of 32, defeating the Minutemen from Massachusetts.
Duke vs. Mercer: This is a no-brainer, The Duke Blue Devils will move on.
Texas vs. Arizona State: This will be an exciting game to watch but the victor in this matchup will be the Long Horns from Texas.
Michigan vs. Wofford: The Wolverines of Michigan may have lost the Big Ten title game but won’t see any trouble against the Wofford Terriers.
This year should be very interesting to watch and will be difficult to predict but at this moment my Final Four are Florida, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wichita State.
*Stay tuned for more predictions and analysis to come as the Tournament continues!
Austen Bundy is a junior at Freedom High School in South Riding, Va.