Miller, Arizona will cut down the nets this March
It’s that time of year again where everyone is diligently poring over their brackets trying to pick the right upsets and the correct national champion to win their office pools. Well, OK, maybe that’s just me, but you get the point.
March Madness is one of the most exciting times of the year in the sports calendar because you just don’t know what you’re going to get in the next four weeks of pure madness on the basketball court. It draws the die-hard fans and the casual ones into the same center of the sports universe for roughly a month.
Every year it seems that I do my research and go in-depth in preparing to fill out a bracket only to see it crash and burn early in the first two rounds with perennial favorites losing to Cinderella stories. Remember Middle Tennessee State over Michigan State in round one? My bracket from last year does.
What about Syracuse, my alma mater, making a Final Four run after largely not deserving a bid last season? What a run that was. It just shows that anything can happen.
Which leads me to this year’s bracket. I’m rolling with Sean Miller and the Arizona Wildcats to win it all.
For much of the last two years since I graduated college and made the move to Colorado for this position, I’ve had very little time to watch anywhere near as much college basketball as I did as a young, ambitious student. Last year I put so much research and time into preparing for March Madness because I felt that I was not on a level playing field with others in my bracket challenge, but this year I’m winging it.
My beloved Orange are in the NIT, but fortunately I can still root hard for my childhood favorites, North Carolina and Oklahoma State, to make deep runs in the tournament. But there’s just something about the Wildcats this season that has me so intrigued in them.
Maybe it has to do with frosh sensations Lauri Markkanen and Kobi Simmons, along with sophomore star Allonzo Trier. The intrigue likely has a lot to do with head coach Sean Miller, who is a Pittsburgh native and who made a name for himself as a player at Blackhawk High School in Pittsburgh before then going on to have a great career as a point guard for the Pitt Panthers.
When it comes to basketball royalty in Pittsburgh, the Miller clan is bigger than someone like Michael Jordan.
Therefore, I’ve been a fan of Miller at every stop in his coaching career, which led him to one of the more prestigious jobs in the country with Arizona.
As of late, the Wildcats have been playing some terrific basketball, winning the Pac-12 tournament championship over Oregon. Trier and Markkanen look like arguably the best duo in the country since early February, and sometimes in this crazy tournament it’s about who can get hot at the right time, not who’s the best team overall.
Outside of my national championship pick of Arizona over North Carolina (sorry, boys), I’m excited to see what Lonzo Ball and UCLA — the college equivalent of the Golden State Warriors — can do in the tournament. I can’t wait to see what Chris Collins and Northwestern can do in the school’s first ever berth in the Big Dance. Full disclosure: I have them in the Sweet 16.
I’m also really high on Winthrop and SMU this year, so we’ll see if my Cinderella picks can make the Sweet 16 runs that I predicted.
While I don’t have a clue how my bracket will turn out, I know this: the Big Dance is going t be a ton of fun this year.
Plus, I think the most enjoyment I’ll get this March is seeing how my fiancée’ Karlie does in filling out her bracket.
She has Louisville over Villanova for the title. Who knows; maybe she wins the whole shebang in her office pool.
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