The NCAA Tournament is here. Is your bracket filled? Earlier this week I shared my take on the tournament’s First Four by determining which school I would peg as the favorite if we were to watch the two schools play in football, instead of basketball. One out of three made for a rough start, but now it is on to the first round of the tournament. Let’s take a look, region by region.
Gonzaga vs. Southern
We are going to have a real shocker here in the first round. Top seed Gonzaga does not play football, and as the precedent has already been set, the opposing team gets a default victory using this methodology. That means Southern, who is the 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament, would get the automatic trip to round two. Of course, even if Gonzaga did play football, Southern would probably still fare well as a decent program in their own right. Hard to believe it has been so long since the last sWAC championship for Southern, but they move on to round two here.
Pittsburgh vs. Wichita State
Wichita State has not played football since 1986, so that means it would be difficult for Pittsburgh to lose to an FCS program for a second time this season. Pittsburgh has a chance to do some damage in this tournament, and they get off to a quick start with an easy default win in round one.
Wisconsin vs. Ole Miss
Here is another game that would make for a dandy of a football game. Ole Miss has generated quite a bit of buzz following a fantastic recruiting class coming together this offseason, but they still have work to do. Meanwhile Wisconsin lost their head coach after winning three straight Big Ten championships. Until we are proven that the tide has changed with both programs, the Badgers get to jump around on to round two.
Kansas State vs. Boise State
Note: I picked Boise State in the First Four, placing them in this match-up.
Boise State scored the easy win in the First Four for me, setting up what could be an entertaining match-up with Kansas State. The Wildcats have some really good seasons here and there and if we were to pair up 2012 Kansas State and Boise State it would be difficult to bet against Bill Snyders team. But there is just something about Chris Petersen and the Broncos that makes it difficult for me to count them out so quickly. I’m going to give the Broncos the upset nod here, which will surely upset my Kansas State readers. Boise State moves on to take on Wisconsin.
Arizona vs. Belmont
My little “No football, automatic disqualifier” rule comes in to play here for Belmont. The truth is, Arizona would have received the nod anyway over what would be an FCS program. Arizona moves on.
New Mexico vs. Harvard
New Mexico is trying to turn things around with Bob Davie as head coach and last year saw some surprising positives develop as the season played out. Here in round one they take on perennial Ivy League power Harvard. This is a true rarity as the Crimson do not take on FBS competition any more, and football postseasons are forbidden by Ivy League members (stupid, I know). New Mexico should be the favorite here without much question, but I would be really curious to see how Harvard would stack up in this imaginary scenario.
Notre Dame vs. Iowa State
Notre Dame reached the championship game in college football. Can they reach the final in my football picking fun here with the NCAA Tournament? The Fighting Irish are placed in a tough spot, having to take on feisty Iowa State in the opening round with a likely date with Ohio State in round two. If the Irish can sneak out of the first two rounds then watch out. They would be very tough to beat. I know this, Iowa State gives the Irish a fight but ultimately Brian Kelly’s squad gets out of the game with a hard fought victory to advance to round two.
Ohio State vs. Iona
The Buckeyes are one of the favorites in the NCAA Tournament, and given the methodology I am using in this bracket, they may be a favorite here as well. In round one the Buckeyes take on the FCS Iona Gaels, who last played football in 2008. That means Ohio State gets the virtual bye to prepare for the winner of the Notre Dame-Iowa State match-up. That means we are looking at a 2006 Fiesta Bowl rematch between the Buckeyes and Fighting Irish.