It is always fun to have a bracket that picks many of the teams right and racks up the points and maybe even wins some money from the people who put money on their bracketology skills. We watch all the shows after Selection Sunday that break down every single matchup and player from all the teams and which team has a chance to make a Cinderella run. Many of these so-called experts picked our Villanova Wildcats to lose in the first round to Winthrop, who to give them credit, was 23-1, in the traditional 12 seed over 5 seed upset, heading into the big dance. What I noticed from all these experts and myself and my friend who picked the brackets, that we included mostly one and two seeds in the Final Four and both picked a one seed in Illinois to win it all.
We should have been looking at the lower seeds like 12 seed Oregon State, 15 seed Oral Roberts, 11 seed Syracuse or the most impressive of all, the 11 seed UCLA Bruins to who are still dancing into the Final Four where they will take on Gonzaga in the nightcap of Final Four action on Saturday. I like to see this trend of lower seeds making deep runs and being formidable opponents than just the lower seed have one lucky game in the Round of 64 and then having them bow out in the Round of 32. For example, UCLA and the Pac-12 conference came out of nowhere to take over the tournament. The Pac-12 had a combined 11-1 record going into the Elite Eight and put three out of their four teams there. The highest seed in 5 seed Colorado lost in the Round of 32 to Florida State but other three teams in number 6 seed USC, number 7 seed Oregon, and number 11 UCLA all made or are making huge run in the tournament. USC took out blue blood powerhouse Kansas by over 30 points, Oregon eliminated Big Ten powerhouse Iowa, and UCLA had to play formidable Michigan State in the First Four (for non-basketball fans, the First Four are four play-in games into the NCAA Tournament), then knocked out rising SEC power 2 seed Alabama led by star point guard and former Villanovan Jahvon Quinely, and then number 1 seed Michigan on their road to Final Four.
If you thought the Pac-12 was crazy, Oral Roberts from the Summit League, used one game to shock one of my Final Four picks in 2 seed Ohio State in overtime but instead of being a one hit wonder, they then beat Florida by three points, and almost made a buzzer beating three to beat one of the best teams in the SEC in Arkansas as they lost by two. Teams like Oral Roberts will give the tournament zest because we won’t constantly have to watch the sometimes-boring matchups between proven powerhouse teams on the one and two lines. Villanova is in its own separate category as Villanova is an extreme powerhouse and are always so much fun to watch, especially when they win.
When I come upon the Tournament Bracket Challenge for 2022, there is one thing I will remember from this tournament that I have been deflecting the last few years in my picks. The food for though is to always pick a decent number of upsets if you want to have a good chance to win because playing it safe and picking all the top seeds ends up in disaster like my bracket this year where I only picked one of the four Final Four teams. Remember to trust the underdog because as Jason Kelce said at the Super Bowl party for the Eagles, “Hungry dogs run faster!”