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2016 Anonymously Through The Brackets: Flying Over The Midwest

Sick of hard-hitting analysis of the 2015 NCAA Tournament? Up to your eyeballs in expert picks chock-full of astute takes on players to watch and budding upsets?

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

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:


I'm not picking Virginia.  No.  Not doing it.  I am not putting myself in a position to have to cheer for Bennett Ball.  Not happening.

Thankfully, the NCAA tournament committee gave me Michigan State as the two seed in this region, and I have no problem riding with the Spartans.  Tom Izzo's been the head coach up there since 1995, and he's made the Final Four seven times, including last year.  Guess what?  Michigan State brought back seven notable contributors from that team, plus transfer Eron Harris who was on the team, but just sitting out due to NCAA rules.

Hell, the only reason that Michigan State isn't a one seed is probably because they went through a rough patch while Denzel Valentine was injured and then working himself back into a good place after missing four games.  Let that idea roll around in your head for a while: Michigan State is a two seed and they might be drastically underseeded.


Since January 24, Seton Hall has lost twice.  That's it.  Twice.

They just beat Villanova and Xavier on back to back nights to win the Big East tournament.  They just beat two of the #2 seeds on a neutral court heading into a tournament full of neutral court games.

Did you realize that Seton Hall has the 17th best defense in the country according to KenPom?  I didn't.  I was thinking about picking Seton Hall for this spot and went looking for reasons to help make my case when I found it.

There is one slight flaw in this plan, but it's a very slight flaw in picking the #6 seeded Pirates.  Remember those two losses in the last two months that I mentioned?  Both of them are against Butler.  Butler is the nine seed in this region.  Ok, sure, that means they can't meet til the regional final, but that's still a note of kryptonite in this BOLD pick to win.


There are no one, two, or three loss teams in the country this season.  There are two teams with four losses, though.  One of them is Kansas, the #1 overall team in the entire tournament.

The other is Little Rock, at 29-4.

Ok, yes, they're the champion of the Sun Belt.  Yes, three of the losses came in league play, including to two sub-250 KenPom teams.  All four losses were on the road, though, including a trip to Texas Tech for their first loss of the season.  When they lost that game, there were only five teams that were still undefeated after that, and everyone forgot about the Trojans beating San Diego State and Tulsa (and DePaul) before that.

They're the 12 seed in the region, playing Purdue as the five seed.  The game is out in Denver, which isn't a super easy trip for Boilermaker fans.  You have to pick a 12 to beat a 5 somewhere.  Take the Trojans.


With two Big East squads in this region, plus Deonte Burton at Iowa State, there's actually a ton of guys in here that I actually have paid to watch.

My pick here, though, is Iona's A.J. English.  He was the 2nd best player in the MAAC this season, according to KenPom.  He's scored at least 30 points six times this season, including games of 45 points and 46 points, with the 45er coming against Monmouth.  He's not just a scorer, though, as he's cracked 10 assists three times this year and has the 32nd best assist rate in the country.

Plus, my guy Jaden Daly at @DalyDoseOfHoops won't shut up about him.


Virginia plays. That's it.  Don't watch the Cavaliers.  All this week, there's going to be another game on to watch.  Watch a different game.  They're the slowest team in the country.  Don't watch UVa.  Sure, they're a top 10 offense and top 5 defense according to KenPom.  Don't care.  I'm here for the most fun tournament experience possible, and watching 60 possession games is not that.  It's never that.