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Local Sports

Column: How’s Your Bracket?

By the time this column comes out, we could be well on our way to the first March Madness upset.

The NCAA Tournament is underway, and it’s one of my favorite sports stretches of the year. With a daughter and some other responsibilities that I have picked up over the past several years, I can no longer spend the first two days of the tournament in front of a TV and in my recliner, but I will see plenty of basketball over the course of the next three weeks.

Who are some of your upset picks?

I love SMU in the East Region. That’s a really good 30-4 squad that shouldn’t be seeded sixth. I have SMU reaching the Sweet 16 as well as Wisconsin, Middle Tennessee State, Rhode Island and Michigan.

I am no expert when it comes to picking these games, but there will be plenty of upsets along the way to the Final Four in Phoenix.

Speaking of the Final Four, I have Duke, Arizona, Kansas and Kentucky in my bracket. But UCLA could emerge over Kentucky and Gonzaga might actually get to its first Final Four over Arizona.

This year’s seedings really had me shaking my head.

How in the world is Wisconsin an eight seed and Minnesota a five seed? The Badgers beat the Gophers twice on the court and reached the Big Ten Tournament championship game. That one makes no sense.

A lot was made of North Carolina getting a No. 1 seed over Duke. Duke went 2-1 over North Carolina on the season and won the ACC Tournament. The Tar Heels have seven losses and Duke has eight, but no one is playing better right now than Duke.

Having said that, putting Duke at a No. 2 isn’t horrible. It’s not Wichita State as a No. 10 seed.

The South Region is loaded. It’s like the committee lined up the first three regions and forgot a few teams and had to place really good teams in the same bracket. North Carolina, Kentucky and UCLA all could have made cases for No. 1 seeds. Butler is a really good four, and Minnesota has plenty of talent to do damage even though it was over-seeded.

There is always a 12-5 upset in the NCAA Tournament. In fact, the numbers show that the No. 12 seeds have a better record over the No. 5 seeds over the course of the past four or five years. There will be an upset.

That leads me to that. Will Iowa State get upset by Nevada? Probably not. In my bracket, that will not be where I predict an upset. Could it happen? Sure. The Wolf Pack went 28-6 in a tough Mountain West Conference. And they have won nine straight games.

I do think Iowa State is built for March. The Cyclones have a dominant senior point guard, two sharpshooting seniors that can carry a team and a freakish athlete in Deonte Burton, who is another senior. Seniors and guards win in March and Iowa State has both.

Nevada will take and probably make a bunch of 3-pointers. If the Wolf Pack make more than 10, it could trouble for Iowa State. But I like the Cyclones to advance to at least Round 2.

Obviously, if I have Middle Tennessee State in the Sweet 16, then my upset pick is it knocking off Minnesota. Unlike the Cyclones, the Gophers are young and inexperienced in March. They are ripe for an early exit in my opinion.

If you fill out a bracket, good luck to you. May your picks by accurate.

Most importantly, sit back and enjoy one of the best times of the year. I enjoy the tournament more when my bracket gets busted.

Contact Troy Hyde

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