Are you ready for the madness? "The Stack" certainly is and we're here with thoughts on how the bracket looks, some potential upsets, who got snubbed, who's seeded to high and too low and we'll make Final Four picks. But first some quick thoughts on some o f the other big stories from the weekend so let's take a look and see what made "the stack" for today, Monday, March 12:
1. Quick thoughts from some of the biggest weekend sports stories and headlines...
Can't go a day or two without talkinig about Peyton Manning. He met with the Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals over the weekend. The visit with the Cardinals was six and a half hours. I'm really surprised Manning is that interested in the Broncos. I think the Cardinals are a better fit. But this is yet another time where John Elway and John Fox are showing everyone that they don't trust Tim Tebow. They will trade Tebow if Manning comes. I think this is unfair to Tebow, and that the coaching staff and management is not being honest with him. In the end, I feel as though Manning will pick the Broncos even though I would much rather see him choose Arizona...Randy Moss will try out for the San Francisco 49ers today. The 49ers could use some help at the wide receiver position and Moss was reportedly very good in his workout last week with the Saints...Speaking of the Saints, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to hand down punishment this week sometime against former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, current defensive coordinator for the Rams. Goodell also could come down hard on Saints head coach Sean Payton as well as Saints GM Mickey Loomis and the Washington Redskins. Goodell is reportedly "livid" about this bounty system so expect that punishments to be harsh...And the NFL salary cap is set at $120.6 million. NFL free agency starts Tuesday at 4 pm ET.
In other sports news, Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio tore his ACL in the waning seconds against the Los Angeles Lakers Friday night. Rubio was playing great this year for the Wolves and getting folks excited about Timberwolves basketball. It's a shame to see him go...And Tiger Woods pulled out of yesterday's final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship with an apparent knee/Achilles injury. He said it was bothering him at the beginning of the day and then got progressively worse as the round wore on. It is the same leg he injured during his U.S. Open win back in 2009. Woods cannot catch a break and get back to the Tiger of old. At this point, he may never get back to the Tiger of old.
2. Intial bracket thoughts.
With the unveiling of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball tournament bracket, there was bound to be some rumbling and grumbling and some snubs and questions. For the most part, things are all pretty good. The way the bracket looks there could be a lot of chalk in this tournament in the elite eight and final four. I fully agree with the number one seeds: Kentucky, Syracuse, UNC and Michigan State. The Spartans winning the Big Ten tournament made them deserving candidates. I could have seen Missouri be a one, but am completely fine with them being a two seed along with Ohio State, Kansas and Duke. That is a loaded top eight. Any of these eight teams can win it all. Apart from that, we could see several upsets. #12 Long Beach Sate over #5 New Mexico in the South region? Very possible. More on potential upsets in a bit.
3. A surprsie and some snubs.
The team getting the most talk and also the most questionable team in the tournament is Iona. But I love having them in. Scott Machado, Lamont "Momo" Jones, good offensive team. They were the last team in accordin to the committee. They'll take on fellow #14 seed BYU in the play-in game in Dayton on Tuesday at 9:00 pm ET. They took a bid from Oral Roberts, Washington, Seton Hall, Missisippi State and Miami (FL). The biggest snub may have been Drexel though who lost in the CAA Championship to VCU. The Dragons probably should have been in. But the bubble teams were on the bubble for a reason. They didn't do enough and put themselves in a hole with some bad losses. I actually think it's refreshing to see a team like Oral Roberts from the Summit League get such high consideration. The bubble teams can thank Xavier for not beating St. Bonaventure in the Atlantic 10 final. Had the Musketeers won, the Bonnies would no have gotten in. Such is life though at this time of the year. Always expect the unexpected.
4. Teams seeded to high and too low.
We'll take two teams from each region, one too high and one too low.
In the South Region, #10 seed Xavier was definitely seeded to high. Ever since the brawl with Cincinnati in December, Xavier has lost their swag, their mojo. They didn't look particularly good in the A-10 final loss to St. Bonaventure. I thought they would be closer to out, but the committee obvioiusly felt differently. In terms of a team seeded to low, I look at South Dakota State. I know, I'm a little biased, but considering the Jackrabbits went into the day with the 43rd best RPI in college basketball, I don't know how the committee can justify not giving the Jacks at least a #13 seed. One seed higher doesn't sound like a lot, but look at the matchup. SDSU has to go against a very quick and athletic Baylor team. Had they been a #13 seed, they would have gotten a slightly more favorable matchup against say Indiana or Wisconsin. Maybe had they taken on Oral Roberts in the Summit League final rather than Western Illinois, things would have been different.
In the West Region, BYU and Iona may be seeded to high, because frankly, they perhaps should not be in the tournament at all. Iona was the big surprise as we already mentioned. Another team maybe too high is Colorado State, though they've had several good wins in the Mountain West to get make them deserving of their #11 seedd. In terms of a team seeded too low, what about Murray State as a #6 seed? Are you kidding me? They had only one loss on the year. I know they play in a bad conference, but still a six? Four or five would have been fine with me. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise though for Murray State. Another potential team is Memphis at #8. Memphis has played much better lately and cruised by Marshall in the Conference USA final. Perhaps a #6 seed was more warranted.
In the East Region, a team seeded to high is Montana. The Big Sky was not a highly competitive conference this year despite Weber State and Damian Lillard, and to get a #13 seed seems a little questionable. Three wins against the top 100 and previous stints in the tournament may be the reason why they got the seed that they did. Honorary mention goes to Florida State at #3. But beating Duke and UNC twice this season should earn them something. Perhaps a #3 seed is deserving. In terms of a team seeded too low, I think the committee did pretty good in this region. #5 Vanderbilt and #12 Harvard maybe deserved a bump up each, but now get to face each other. That should be fun.
Finally in the Midwest Region, #4 Michigan is seeded to high. Yes they were co-Big Ten regular season winners, but the Wolverines just aren't quite there yet in my opinion to warrant being a top four seed in any region. I would have made them a #5 or a #6. A team seeded too low is Creighton at #8. Other than a little skid in the regular season where they lost three in a row, Creighton has played really well this year and they have potential player of the year in Doug McDermott. I actually think they deserve a #6 seed. But, at this point, we're nit-picking here.
5. Potential upsets.
In the South Region, don't be shocked if #12 VCU beats the Shockers of #5 Wichita State. Equipped with their success and experience of last year, VCU is a sleeper team to make it back to the Final Four. Another upset could be #10 Xavier over #7 Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish have a young team this year. Xavier has been a huge disappointment, but with Tu Holloway in the backcourt, don't ever count out the Musketeers.
In the West Region, #12 Long Beach State has a great chance to beat #5 New Mexico. Get to know Casper Ware. He is a player with a lot of talent that could give the Lobos fits. Also, #13 Davidson should be a popular upset pick over #4 Louisville. I just don't trust Louisville to play as well as they did in the Big East tournament come Thursday. Davidson made a magical run a few years back. They have a chance to do pull off another major upset this year too.
In the East Region, #12 Harvard can beat #5 Vanderbilt. Vandy always seems to fail miserably in the Big Dance, so don't be shocked if it happens again this year despite them winning the SEC championship. Harvard's style of play will help keep them in this game and possibly give them an outright win. #11 Texas has a great chance to beat #6 Cincinnati. Cincinnati is not a great free throw shooting team and if the game comes down to that, Texas has a definite edge. Also #10 West Virginia should beat #7 Gonzaga. Game is played in Pittsburgh, right in West Virginia's backyard. The Mountaineers will be ready.
Finally in the Midwest Region, #11 NC State is a great pick over #6 San Diego State. Traveling may be an issue for the Aztecs and they have a young team. NC State played UNC tough in the tournament and will be a trendy upset pick. Also, I love #14 Belmont over #3 Georgetown. The Hoyas are another team that disappoint once the Big Dance rolls around. But Belmont was supposed to do something last year and ended up falling flat on their face against Wisconsin. Still, if there is a #14 seed to really take a run on, it's Belmont.
6. Final Four picks.
In the Final Four, for the time being (I reserve the right to make changes before the tournament begins Tuesday night) I have #1 Kentucky out of the South Region, #2 Missouri out of the West Region, #5 Vanderbilt out of the East Region and #1 UNC out of the Midwest Region. I am very shaky on the Commodores given their tournament history and will definitely think about this more over the day. Maybe #3 Florida State? Or do I just go #1 Syracuse? Thoughts? Help?
In the championship game I have #1 Kentucky against #1 UNC and I've wrestled with this one, but I'm going with Kentucky. Initially, I had UNC, but Kentucky has looked so good this year. I just think they have too much firepower. Anthony Davis is a game-changer. Should these two meet in the championship, oh what fun that will be.
Coming up Tuesday: Tuesday play-in game predictions, the difference between SDSU and SDSU and other top storylines from Monday.
Comments and suggestions on what to write about are always welcomed and appreciated.