Apparently I missed it when we reached a point where we needed someone to put together tournament brackets several months before we even get to March. I’m not knocking the practice cause it makes for some fun and spirited debate, and of course who doesn’t love completely hypothetical scenarios? Besides, there must be a “need” because ESPN has Joe Lunardi on the job and as I write this, his latest bracket already has in excess of 3,300 comments attached to it.
*For those just getting into this he also did brackets on August 13th and November 6th.
- The Creighton Blue Jays are in as a #3 seed and are matched up against Louisiana Tech in their opening game. A lot of folks will look at the fact that Creighton’s lone loss is to Boise State and think this is way too high, but the Jays are legit (and yes I am biased). Boise shot over 60% from the floor in that game and were 10-19 from three. Any team that shoots like that is going to give any opponent trouble. At 9-1 the Jays already have wins over BCS conference schools; Wisconsin, Arizona State, Nebraska and they are traveling to take on Cal this Saturday. They also stomped Saint Joseph’s by 29 points to kick off December. The Jays could matchup against the Big 12s Oklahoma State Cowboys if both teams win their opening games and that is one I would love to watch.
- Missouri is also in the region with a #4 seed and a first round game against the Ohio Bobcats. Were Mizzou to advance to the round of 32 they would have an intriguing matchup against either 5th seeded North Carolina or the UCLA Bruins as the 12th seed. The Bruins are kind of a mess right now and are far from a lock to actually make the field come March, but who wouldn’t love to see the Tigers take down UCLA just on principle?
- The Kansas State Wildcats are also placed in the Midwest portion of the bracket as the #9 seed. Their first game would be against Pittsburgh with the honor of taking on #1 seeded Indiana Hoosiers in the following round.
- As I mentioned UMKC didn’t make the field (not a surprise of course) but the Western Illinois Leathernecks did as the automatic bid from the Summit League. To get to a potential matchup with #1 seed Indiana, the Leathernecks would first have to beat the SWAC’s currently 1-8 Texas Southern Tigers.
- Kansas gets sent out West but they do so as the #2 seed and they will play their first two games here in Kansas City. Their first opponent would be the Weber State Wildcats with a second game against either New Mexico or Marquette. In this hypothetical bracket, they seem to have a relatively smooth road as I don’t see any of their other possible opponents; Notre Dame, Temple, Arizona or Valparaiso keeping them from a spot in the Elite Eight.
- If the seeding held together, the Jayhawks would tangle with the #1 seed Michigan Wolverines with a spot in the final four on the line. Of the two teams it appears that Michigan would have a harder time reaching that showdown with potential games against Butler and Kentucky or Georgetown in their path.
- In the East we find Baylor slotted as the #8 seed and matched up with Alabama. If the Bears made it past the Crimson Tide, they would face the constantly overachieving Duke Blue Devils.
- For me personally, the only other team of note in this part of the bracket is the #3 seeded University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (A shout out to all my friends and family buried under the 16″ of snow the fell in the Twin Cities over the weekend).
- The South features very little of interest in terms of the local schools or even Big 12 members. It does however have the Wichita State Shockers in as a #7 seed giving the Missouri Valley two teams in the field. If the Shockers got past Saint Joseph’s (did I mention Creighton crushed them by 29?), their second opponent would be the Ohio State Buckeyes.
- The Florida Gators drew the #1 seed in this portion of the bracket.
Again it’s all hypothetical and I’m not sure putting out a bracket in December is really necessary – especially considering we haven’t even gotten into conference play in most of the leagues. But it’s still fun to look at the potential match-ups and “what if” scenarios. Beyond that it also gives you the chance to complain about seeding, though even when the actual brackets come out I don’t get irked as some folks do about that stuff.