Ah. It’s FINALLY here. My very favorite two days of the sporting year. Thursday-Friday of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tourney, the day when giants are knocked off, when the little guy hits the game-winner to clinch immortality on his home turf. Tune in to this post to hear all about the South’s best sleeper teams likely to shock the hoops world. Even President Obama is in on the fun.
1. East Tennessee State Buccaneers vs. #1 Pitt Panthers. I love East Tennessee. So pretty this time of year. So here’s the good news all you Buc fans in Kingsport, Johnson City, and Gatlinburg — at least your boys will have a nice drive home from Dayton on Saturday. Why They Will Lose? This low-post player named Blair for Pitt is an absolute rock. Why They Will Lose Bad? Pitt was the cool-guy pick to win it all last season, but they lost in the 2nd round to Michigan State. Expect these guys to be focused on the Final Four.
2. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. #5 Illinois Illini. First off, if you had to pick a Hilltopper or an Illini in a bar brawl, who’d you go with? Exactly my thought. I really have no clue which either is. That said, these Kentucky boys know how to knock off a higher seed. Last year they hit a 30-foot bomb at the buzzer to win their first round affair. Why They Will Win? Sorry boss (Our fearless reader-in-chief is a big UK fan), but ever since the Big Blue faded, the Big Red has stepped up. Take solace in knowing your hometown Cards are a Final 4 lock. Why They’ll Lose Round 2? The Hilltoppers meet the Goliath-killer of all-time, Gonzaga…in the Pacific NW. No chance.
3. Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. #4 Washington Huskies. I know. An SEC sleeper? But MSU is a 13 seed that didnt exactly top the rankings this season. But a strong finish to win the conference crown gives them the big MO. Why They’ll Win? I don’t know why, but I love this team. They have fire. They are aggressive. And their coach reminds me of a dear old dad. You rock Stansbury. Why They’ll Be Proud in Starkville? Because the Dogs will reach the Sweet 16. Even a lose to UConn won’t shame these Delta jewels. When ya’ll get home, try out Ty Thames new restaurant on Coach.
4. Virginia Commonwealth Rams vs. #6 UCLA Bruins. My bigtime sleeper. Several reasons tell me that the Rams are contenders, perhaps the most dangerous team in the East. The coach learned the ropes at 2-time champ Florida. They have some military discipline at their school. And their leader is a bonafide gamer. Why They’ll Knock Off a Titan? Senior guard Eric Maynor, above, will control the game and beat the Bruins. He’s proven himself already, beating Duke two years ago. He’ll do it again. Why They’ll Shock the World? No they won’t win it all. But….the VCU Rams will once again knock off Duke to reach the Elite 8.