Only a day into March Madness, and many of us have lost all hope at a perfect NCAA tournament bracket and winning Warren Buffet’s $1 Billion. Well wipe those tears baby birds, because some of you, like myself, still have a shot at winning $100,000. That’s right, the top 20 entries in the Quicken Loans Billion $ Bracket Challenge will receive a $100,000 first-place-prize. I know what you’re thinking, “Warren, What do I do? I just made my first payment on a space ship.” While $100-grand wouldn’t set you up for life, it is a consolation that I think most would “settle” for. And if you don’t win the $100,000, clearly the only fair compensation would be for Arizona to win the NCAA championship.
In my billion $ bracket, the Arizona Wildcats become NCAA champions, and I miraculously win $100,000. After reading this, maybe you’ll decide to ride the consolation bracket by my side.
The $100,000 Bracket
(Click for full-screen)
What to look forward in the consolation bracket:
The second day of the first round- Friday may ultimately be the day you decide to 1. retire from a short-lived career in bracketology, or 2. start placing side bets with your friends on whose bracket will turn out better.
Arizona warming up with Weber St- Anything can happen in the tournament, but one thing you can probably count on is Arizona mopping the court with these baby wildcats. Zona fans have been waiting for March all season, and its finally time for the Cats to get down to business. If Weber State loses by less than 20 points, the city of Ogden, Utah might as well throw a celebratory parade.
What to be wary of:
Your Final Four picks: There were a few teams (Louisville and SDSU) that are projected to make deep tournament runs, who struggled to make it out of the round of 64. After Thursday’s showing, its clear that it’s important to keep a close eye on top seeds in the first round. Teams like Kansas, Arizona, Virginia, Duke and Wichita State can get upset just as easily Ohio State lost to Dayton by one point.
Kentucky- Since coming into this season as the #1 ranked team in the nation, the Wildcats have faltered throughout the season and earned a disappointing 8-seed. After giving top-ranked Florida a run for their money in the SEC tournament, Kentucky is primed for a championship run in the tournament. Kentucky is possibly the most talented team in college basketball and if they can make it through the toughest regional bracket in the tournament, it may be hard to stop them in the final four.
UCLA- While UCLA would have to make it past Florida to get a chance at escaping the South region, the Bruins are in full form. Such a form that allowed UCLA to put up 75 points against the nation’s best defense, the Arizona Wildcats. This is another team with a boat load of NBA prospects. Two years ago, Experts that looked at this team’s recruiting class could’ve easily projected Kyle Anderson, Tony Parker, and Jordan Adams to cut down yet another championship net for Westwood in their college careers. Well it looks like that window of opportunity is closing, as the Bruins will most likely lose some of their best players to this year’s NBA draft. This high powered offense is due to shine for at least a few games in March.
How Arizona Wins:
The Wildcat science is fairly simplistic; defense wins games. If Arizona can hold its opponents to under 70 points, they’re already half-way-home to a win. With the Cats lackluster offense and touch at the free-throw line, it is vital for Arizona to control the game tempo by playing tough defense. This hasn’t been an issue for the Wildcats, as opposing offenses have averaged a mere 58 points per game this season.
Another decisive factor for Arizona’s title hopes will be free-throw shooting and being opportunistic on offense.Over their four losses, the Wildcats missed 32 free throws. Free-throw shooting has been Arizona’s major weak spot over the season. Much of this is due to the fact that the Cats second primary scorer, Aaron Gordon, is the worst free-throw shooter in college basketball at 43.5% accuracy. Gordon will undoubtably get hacked at key points in the tournament, and it will be vital for him to thrive at the line under pressure. The difference in an Arizona championship could literally be a case of freshman “stage freight” from beyond the charity stripe. More importantly, the Wildcats will have to convert on defensive takeaways and get the ball into the hands of the hot shooter. Look forward to streaky performances from Nick Johnson and Gabe York.
If your’e not as excited for Arizona’s journey to the title as I am, here’s some motivation to BearDown.