The following is a fun story by Ricky O'Donnell, in which you are given a choice if you don't want Kentucky winning your pool. Since I played basketball at Arizona, I support the choice. Go Cats, as in Arizona.
Arizona, not Kentucky, to win your NCAA bracket
Everyone is going to tab
Kentucky to win the NCAA Tournament. That's
no way to win a big office pool.
There's no wrong way to fill out an NCAA Tournament bracket. You could pick the more ferocious mascot or choose teams by which color you like better. You could flip a coin or ask your dog. You could go straight chalk or randomly pick a bunch of upsets. At this point, any of these methods is time-tested and Internet-approved.
Or you could be like everyone else and just choose
Kentucky to win it all.
I did it, too. The Wildcats enter the tournament as the heaviest favorite in recent memory. Listen to the way people talk about John Calipari's team this year and you'd think the NCAA Tournament might be better served with a Royal Rumble-style format, with
Kentucky entering the ring first and needing
to crush all 67 of the other challengers to be crowned champions. Most people
still probably wouldn't pick against them.
You're going to hear one bit of analysis repeated ad nauseam over the next few days:
has absolutely been dominant, but it's not unbeatable. Ole Miss barely made the
field of 68, and the Rebels took Kentucky
to overtime. Texas A&M missed the field and it pushed the Wildcats to two
overtimes. Buffalo and Columbia
are just two of the teams that led Kentucky
at halftime. The Wildcats haven't been beaten, but that doesn't mean they're
You know this. I know this. Everyone knows this. Chances are, you're still picking
It's the best pick if you're trying to choose the team that's going to win the
NCAA Tournament. It might not be the best pick if you're trying to win your
office bracket pool.
If everyone picks
wins the championship, that means the person with the bracket that's most
accurate in the early rounds is going to take home the pool. The more people in
your pool, the harder this becomes.
But what if you don't take
Kentucky? By choosing a different champion,
it's conceivable that the rest of your bracket could overcome a lot of
inaccurate picks to still win the pool as long as you hit on an overall winner
that no one else has.
When everyone zigs, you zag. It just makes sense. That's why it might be smart to pick
to win the national championship this year.
Sean Miller's program was becoming West Coast Kentucky even before this season. Calipari is the only coach recruiting better than Miller is right now.
Arizona isn't as talented as Kentucky, but you can make the argument this
is the second most complete roster in the country. Miller also has them peaking
at the right time.
When the year started,
was only behind Kentucky
in the polls. They haven't done much to discredit that preseason opinion. Yes, Arizona lost to two teams with triple-digit KenPom
rankings next to their name in UNLV and .
The fanbase was even more upset over a loss to Oregon State
in February. As the season has progressed, though, those bad losses are looking
more like outliers. Arizona State
Realtime Bracket Game
Miller uses the same packline defensive scheme that Tony Bennett does at
with devastating effectiveness. The difference is at the other end of the
floor, where Arizona
has proven this roster to better equipped to score in bunches than the team
Miller had last season.
It starts with Johnson, a presumed top 10 draft pick in June and an 18-year-old most often described as a "man-child." He's a 240-pound perimeter player who isn't just strong for a college kid -- he's strong for an adult. It took Johnson some time to find his footing within
Arizona's offense, but
he's been great lately, ascending all the way up to No. 2 in KenPom's player of
the year rankings.
Johnson leads the team in scoring at 14 points per game, but
never really needs him in takeover mode. All five starters are capable of putting
the ball in the basket, and reserves Gabe York and Elliott Pitts come off the
bench to add shooting. When Arizona
goes small with Johnson at the four and York sliding next to starting point
guard T.J. McConnell, the added driving lanes and shooting makes the offense
even harder to defend.
This season has felt like "
vs. the field" from the start, and Kentucky
has justified it by handily winning every big game they've been in. It's not
really up for debate that Kentucky
is easy pick to win the NCAA Tournament. It just isn't an easy pick to help you
win your pool.