Fear not, friends: your pals at Anonymous Eagle are here to inject some half-baked, homespun "insight" into the proceedings, with our annual region-by-region tour, as we go Anonymously Through the Brackets.
For each region, we'll give you our patented Anonymous Eagle Half-Arsed Analysis with: a gutless pick to win the region; a sleeper regional champ; a CRUSH YOUR MAN upset special; a player we'd pay to watch; and something you're not going to want to see.
Without further ado:
GUTLESS WONDER PICK TO WIN
If you want "gutless" then go ahead and pick the Tournament's no. 1 overall seed; the team that's been ranked no. 1 in the nation for the last month. You just get out your chalk and take the team that went undefeated through the SEC regular season AND tournament; the team that's loaded with seniors, has a great point guard, a coach with two national championship rings and plays defense better than anyone in the nation. That's right, you just play it safe and go ahead and pick the Florida Gators. Because, clearly, you have no sense of adventure.
CHEX BOLD PARTY MIX PICK TO WIN
You wanna get nuts? C'mon, let's get nuts!!! You've got the no. 1 team in the land on top of the bracket and the talent laden Kansas Jayhawks on the bottom. But if you're looking for a dark horse (and that's exactly what we're doing in this segment), then I'd like to direct your attention to the UCLA Bruins. The kids from Westwood cruised through the Pac-12 Tournament, including a highly entertaining victory over no. 1 seeded Arizona. They've got a lot of talent of their own, and are led by "Slow-Mo" Kyle Anderson - one of the most unique and versatile players in college basketball.
Now I know what you're thinking: "Mr. K, you're picking hot team, with a guy that's almost averaging a triple double, and 2 or 3 more future pros... what makes this pick so BOLD?" To this I respond: Have you seen Steve Alford's Tournament track record??? The last time he led a team past the first weekend he was wearing short shorts. Ok, not quite. But no Alford led team has gotten out of the Round of 32 since his SW Missouri St Bears upset Tennessee and Wisconsin (which we appreciated) back in 1999. So if you want to live dangerously, go ahead and roll the dice on UCLA.
CRUSH YOUR MAN UPSET SPECIAL
Speaking of Coach Alford... His former team, New Mexico, is a popular pick to score a big upset in the early going. If the Lobos can get by Stanford, they could be a dangerous match-up for the future lottery picks from Lawrence, KS. If the Jayhawks are without star big man, Joel Embiid (and it appears they will be), New Mexico has the kind of front line depth that could give KU problems. Marquette fans are familiar with the damage that Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow can do on the interior, and a veteran backcourt of Kendall Williams and Hugh Greenwood give the Lobos a well rounded attack. With the curse of Alford off in LA, this could finally be the year that UNM exorcises the demons and makes the 2nd weekend.
PLAYER I'D PAY TO WATCH
No player in recent memory has come into college basketball with as much hype as Kansas' Andrew Wiggins. I think NBA teams actually started tanking last season, just to get a head start on the Wiggins Sweepstakes. While he didn't immediately light the world on fire, he has gotten progressively better throughout the year and it is readily apparent that he is the player that everyone billed him to be. In his last three games leading up to the tournament (all without Embiid), he has averaged 31pts, 8 rebounds, and 3 steals. Catch this kid while you can, because next year the price of admission to see him will significantly higher (unless he ends up with the Bucks, they're pretty much just giving tickets away).
HIDE YOUR EYES WHEN
The smoke and mirrors that were concealing the true identity of Syracuse get removed. Remember when they were 25-0 and were the no. 1 team in the nation? Me neither. Since then they've lost 5 of 7, and had memorable moments such as this: