March Madness, mid-majors and Saint Mary's

March Madness, mid-majors and Saint Mary's
March 15, 2012, 8:12 pm
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All righty then. So much for March Madness.

Im hanging all my hopes on Saint Marys, and they managed to get a draw that would make the Marquis De Sade proud.

Wednesday nights performance by Cal in its play-in game against South Florida told you everything you need to know about the Pac-12 this year. All thats left now is Colorado -- a nice little team from Boulder that's well-coached, has a whole bunch of nice kids and is right up there on the Most likely to win the tournament list with UNC Ashville and Vermont.

RELATED: Cal's season ends with ugly loss to South Florida

This is that time of year that we all start looking at upsets and surely there will be some. A No. 12 will beat a No. 5 and Im guessing a No. 4 gets snagged by a No. 13. A No. 15 will scare the hell out of a No. 2 and the No. 1s will all win by 30.

There are a number of good mid-majors, which will make things amusing for the first weekend. Wichita State, Long Beach State, Murray State, VCU, and even Harvard can provide a few moments of aw shucks, gee whiz, aint that a great David and Goliath story; but this year more than any that I can recall, the rich have gotten richer. I simply cannot see anyone getting into the final eight that doesnt truly belong there.

There was always that leveling factor -- great athletes at the big schools vs. senior-laden upstart teams that have been cultivating players for this one run, with a team thats stayed together, played together and finally, won together.

The problem is that now the level of athlete at the factories is so good that even if they dont play to their own expectations theyve got enough to beat anybody else in the country. Again, put it at the feet of the AAU programs. They may not breed great basketball players but they breed great athletes who, at this level, dont have to be great basketball players.

This year I believe Cinderellas carriage turns into a pumpkin at about 7:30 rather than midnight.

I keep looking for a team to jump up and beat the titans and I cant really find one. So let me say this. I think Kentucky -- the most talented team in the tournament -- will find a way to lose. They always do. I think Syracuse will run into a team that can solve their zone and they too will lose. They usually do. I just dont think Duke is good enough this year but I do think Carolina is.

I like Michigan State even though they have the toughest draw of the No. 1 seeds. Tom Izzos teams are always ready to play in March. I like Missouri too -- they can score. Kansas should do well but somehow finds a way to lose before they really get going. Could happen again (to Saint Marys, if the Gaels vanquish Purdue?).

As to dark horses: Vandy, Florida St., North Carolina State, and your choice of about 50 others. But dont book it. This year the biggest winners are the people who made the seeds. The top 8 are just that -- the top 8.

Im still rootin for Virginia Commonwealth. Or was that last year?

Barry Tompkins is a frequent contributor to and Chronicle Live.

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