(The Daily Pennsylvanian)
What is more amazing: today’s date or that we are barely into the second full week of December and Joe Lunardi wants to talk March Madness brackets? Both are impressive, but we’re going to discuss the latter. If you want to know more about today’s date, just log on to any form of social media and look at your timeline/stream/feed.
Mrs. Tyler Thompson touched on this point last night in her notes, but let’s dig a little deeper into Lunardi’s first bracket of the season that has the Cats sitting as a 5-seed playing in the Los Angeles region, with the first rounds being played in Austin, Texas.
Your top seeds in this first edition are Indiana, Duke, Michigan and Florida. Louisville checks in as a 2-seed playing the first rounds in Dayton, Ohio and the regional in Indianapolis. Kansas, Ohio State and Syracuse round out the remainder of the 2-seeds.
If this were the real thing, the first concern would be Kentucky playing a 12-seed. The 5 versus 12 is typically one of those trendy upset picks and for good reason. Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, the 5-seed has beaten the 12-seed just 66.7 percent of the time — and that doesn’t include last season when there were two 12 over 5 upsets: VCU knocking off Wichita State and South Florida beating Temple. The last time all four 5-seeds made it to the next round was 2007.
The second concern would be the travel. Without a doubt, no fan base travels like the Big Blue Nation. But is Austin, Texas and Los Angeles, California too much to ask? Most recently Cats fans have been spoiled by playing relatively close to home in Louisville, Atlanta, New Orleans, Tampa and New Jersey. There was a big turnout in Houston for the Final Four in 2011, but will fans be reserved heading to Texas for just the first two rounds? And then California? According to Google, flights from Lexington to Los Angeles are around $900 per ticket.
What could be the best part about this draw? Playing in Michigan’s bracket. Passing Indiana until the Final Four and avoiding Duke until the National Championship game does make things easier. Not that Kentucky should fear these teams, but nobody ever said taking the path of least resistance was a bad thing. And not to overlook Michigan, but they have a history of underperforming time and time again. Granted, this could be the best squad of Wolverines since Rose, Webber, Howard, King and Jackson wore the blue and yellow. Michigan is 10-0 and off to its best start in 23 years, but will have to slug it out in the Big Ten where we will learn its true colors.
Other notables from this bracket: The SEC has five teams in, fifth-best among the power six conferences. Including Kentucky and Florida, 4-seed Missouri, 9-seed Alabama and 11-seed Tennessee are in the big dance. Ole Miss is currently among the first eight teams to miss out on a bid.