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Local Sports

Bracket Busting Madness

For the first time since I can remember, I do not have an NCAA Tournament bracket filled out.

I did not enter into any office pools this season. We do not have one at the paper this year.

I will gladly just sit back and watch the madness unfold without a dog in the fight. Well, mostly none anyway.

I will still be rooting for the Iowa Hawkeyes and Duke Blue Devils to win every game. Duke has been my “second” team since junior high school. This year’s Duke team may have more top-end talent than other one before it.

Most brackets probably have Duke winning it all. Zion Williamson has forced many fans to do that. He’s incredible. And the Blue Devils have lost just two games when he’s played the entire way.

When the games tip off from Des Moines late Thursday morning, I will be rooting for Saint Louis to knock off Virginia Tech. I hope JA Morant and Murray State upsets Marquette. It also would be awesome to see one of those 15 over 2 or 14 over 3 upsets that we see every year.

Who is this year’s Loyola of Chicago? The Ramblers are not in the field this time around and have actually already been eliminated from the NIT, so Sister Jean will not be the talk of the tournament.

Belmont as an 11 seed could be a trendy upset pick. It will have Maryland in the first round so I am not sure that will go positively, but a win there could open things up nicely as third-seeded LSU doesn’t have a head coach right now.

Since the First Four games started, at least one of the winners has advanced to the Round of 32. This year, that is going to be either Belmont or Arizona State.

I didn’t think the Sun Devils should have even been in the field. The Pac 12 was not very good this season. So based on that, Arizona State will make a deep run right? Isn’t that how it usually works?

A trendy pick I have seen by some others is No. 12 Oregon over No. 5 Wisconsin. I don’t see it. The Big Ten Conference, along with the ACC, were the top two leagues in the country this season.

Oregon is red-hot but it came against those bad or average teams in the Pac 12.

Wisconsin wins that game by double-figures.

Iowa is one of those teams who can have some success outside the Big Ten because the teams it plays aren’t as familiar with them as conference schools.

But the Hawkeyes drew Cincinnati, which is as close to a Big Ten school as any in the country.

The Bearcats are physical. If the officials let the physicality go, Iowa could be in trouble. But the Hawkeyes can win this game by double-digits if they make 10 3-pointers and get officials who call the game tight.

Iowa State has been up and down all season long. The good Cyclones have been tough to beat. The bad Cyclones lost by nearly 20 points to under .500 West Virginia.

Iowa State gets an Ohio State team which split with Iowa. The Buckeyes are capable, and if Kaleb Wesson goes off, Ohio State could pull off the upset. The Cyclone team that doesn’t play soft will have to show up.

Next week’s column will be partially about my family’s first NCAA Tournament experience. We are taking in the women’s doubleheader in Iowa City on Friday. The Hawkeyes and Drake Bulldogs open their tournaments at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

It will be my daughter’s first college basketball game. I hope she takes a liking to the sport.

As far as the rest of the games, I will just sit back, relax and enjoy the madness.

Contact Troy Hyde

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