The Brackets are out and we are ready to go.  I’ve got my pencil and eraser.  I’ve got my ten different brackets filled out and spread out on my coffee table.   And I have my Siena t-shirt on. 

March Madness is finally among us and lord knows it feels good.

But before we reveal our brackets, I would like to offer all of you some advice from a pure bracket genius, an upset connoisseur. 

I’m going to speak for everyone and say that picking the upsets is the most fun a bracket can offer next to winning actual money.  America loves the giant killers.  American loves the underdog story.  America loves the Western Kentucky’s and the VCU’s.  So in name of that love, here are five teams you should look at carefully while you fill out your bracket these next two days. 

These are all possible giant killers and I would put my money that at least one of the five make a push (I want to say two out of five, but I figured I’d go with the “weatherman” technique and be way too broad).

In order from least likely to most likely:

5.  UTEP over Butler- A classic 5-12 matchup, which could be a classic 12-5 upset.  Butler is riding a 20 game winning streak and they are an exceptional team.  The only reason I have this as a possible upset is because of the talent they have played in those 20 games; it’s not very strong.  The four games Butler lost were against teams with quality post players.  In the loss to Minnesota, Damian Johnson and Colton Iverson had a field day down low (and Matt Howard fouled out, more to come about this little nugget).  In the loss to Clemson, Trevor Booker started the game off well, which opened up the Clemson’s exceptional guard play (Matt Howard had four fouls).  In the loss to Georgetown Greg Monroe was a defiant PTP-er, knocking down 24-points (Matt Howard fouled out).  Finally in the loss to UAB, it wasn’t post play, but the Blazers exceptional guard play that killed the Bulldogs (Matt Howard fouled out).  Do you see a pattern?  Butler’s best players were continuously in foul trouble and they were unable to play well defensively against strong apposing offensive low post players.   UTEP has two strapping forwards that are two of the three leading scorers for the Miners.  This will cause a problem for Butler’s big men, who always seem to be in foul trouble.  If UTEP pounds the ball down low, and if they develop a post presence immediately, Matt Howard (who averages 3.5 fouls per game) Willie Veasley (2.5 per game), and Gordon Hayward (2.1 per game) will be in instant foul trouble.  If UTEP develops a down low scoring game early it will open up guard Randy Culpepper to take over that game (he is the Miners leading scorer with 18 point per game).  If this happens, I think UTEP can beat either Vandy or Murray State.

4. San Diego State over Tennessee-After Tennessee’s miserable loss to Kentucky, I personally lost a lot of faith in Bruce Pearl’s team.  They couldn’t stop my grandmother from getting to the hoop, they couldn’t throw a ball into the ocean, and they looked more out of control than a drunk driver on a unicycle.  Wayne Chism is an immense player and has a lot on his shoulders, but he has the same Achilles heel as Matt Howard of Butler, he tends to get in early foul trouble (2.8 a game).  San Diego State puts out four players that can come out on any night and just kill it offensively. Three of those four are forwards.  Just like UTEP, if they establish themselves down low, Wayne Chism is going to finish his career riding the pine.

3. Cornell over Temple-This is probably the trendiest 12-5 upset, so I wont get into it very much (you’ll hear “experts” predict this one all week).  Cornell has a tremendous senior leader in Ryan Wittman who is also the teams leading scorer.  The Big Red have a lot of experience; five of their top six scorers are seniors.  If you compare that to Temple, who have three seniors (two of which actually play significant minutes) it looks like Cornell has a fighters chance to take out the Owls. 

2. Siena over Purdue-This is my personal favorite.  I love Siena and I love the 13-4 upset special.  Purdue is struggling without Robbie Hummel and they looked awful against Minnesota.  They have great guards that can easily take over a gam, but for some reason I think Siena will prepare well for this matchup.  I think they will study the Minnesota tape and Coach Fran McCaffery will develop one hell of a game plan (remember he’s been in this position before).  Alex Franklin, Edwin Ubiles, Ryan Rossiter, and Clarence Jackson have had fantastic seasons and I think they will build off last years tournament success, where they beat Ohio State in the first round and almost beat the number one seeded Louisville in the second. After their loss to Minnesota, Purdue should be really nervous.  I really love the Saints as a George Mason type team this year.

1.  Murray State over Vanderbilt- This is also another trendy pick as another 4-13 upset.  Vandy is a bit over ranked, especially after losing to a Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament.  They lost to a team that I think got snubbed from the tournament.  Vandy’s defense looked bad, and their offense was even worse during that loss.  Murray State comes into the tournament with the best record of all the lower seeds.  They have a five headed monster on offense with Ivan Aska, B.J. Jenkins, Danero Thomas, Tony Easley and Isaiah Canaan, all of which can go off for 20 easily.  The Racers can all score effectively and if Vandy plays the way they did against Mississippi State, Murray State is going to be playing UTEP in the second round.

(In my best Dickie V voice, which I think is pretty damn good) So there you have it baby, my personal upset specials.  My Cinderella teams.  My giant killers baby!  The tournament is going to be awesome baby with a capital A!  It is going to be filled with dramaaaaaaaaa, absolute dramaaaaaaaaa. Diaper Dandies are going to become PTP-ers!  It’s the best time of year.  OH MR. NESSLERRRRRRRRRRRRR.

You said it Dickie V, you said it.