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
As much fun as it would be to ride with #1 seed Oregon for mascot related purposes, I'm sticking with national player of the year candidate Buddy Hield and Oklahoma.
Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently did a Q&A on the JS website. He fielded a question from a reader who was very upset that Henry Ellenson was not making between three and five three pointers per game like he was expecting. Yes, I know. That's crazy to expect that. Ellenson would have exploded past the Marquette freshman record for made threes with amazing ease. Totally nuts to expect that from a player.
Except Buddy Hield is averaging four makes a game. Who doesn't want to watch this six times on a national stage?? The Sooners haven't lost to anyone outside of the stacked up Big 12 this season, and that includes pounding Wisconsin and Villanova. Boomer gosh darn Sooner.
CHEX BOLD PARTY MIX BOLD PICK TO WIN
You wanna get nuts? Let's get nuts!
For a BOLD pick, you've got to go outside the lines. Maaaaaaybe you can take a three seed, but that doesn't feel BOLD enough. The four seed in this region? Duke. Picking Duke is never bold, even if and/or especially when they're the defending champion. The five? Baylor. No thank you. Now we're starting to get down to some seriously flawed teams, so let's go waaaaaaaaay down and take Northern Iowa as the bold pick to win.
Here's the caveat: We need "Before December 5th" UNI or "Since January 27th" UNI to show up here, not "between December 5 & January 23" UNI. The Panthers picked up 10 of their 12 losses in that six week stretch. Before that? They beat North Carolina, although that was admittedly without Brice Johnson back in November. They've lost just one time since January 27, a road trip to Loyola Chicago, but they also beat Wichita State twice, including in the Missouri Valley semifinals.
UNI has a top 50 defense, so if they can figure their offense out, particularly their dead last in the country offensive rebounding issue, maybe they can figure out a way to lock people up for four straight games and win the region as the #11 seed.
CRUSH YOUR MAN UPSET SPECIAL
You know that we're not going to advocate for anyone to favor Wisconsin around these parts. UW-Green Bay is a totally separate issue. Linc Darner's in his first season after taking the reigns from former Golden Eagle Brian Wardle. He's done what Wardle couldn't at GB: win a Horizon League tournament title and get the autobid into the NCAA tournament.
Their reward? A #14 seed, scheduled against #3 Texas A&M. While KenPom gives the Phoenix just a a 16% chance of victory in the game, I'd like to remind everyone that the Aggies had a stretch earlier this season where they lost five of six games, with only a home game against Iowa State breaking up the losing streak. Sure, they've righted the ship, but if that's the TAMU that shows up in Oklahoma City for this one, the Phoenix, who are ranked #117 in KenPom and have the fastest offensive possession time in the country, will get more than a fair shot to pull the upset.
PLAYER I'D PAY TO WATCH
Duh, Buddy Hield. Already talked about this. He's the #2 player in the entire country in the KenPom Player of the Year rankings, he's top 100 in Offensive Rating, he's top 40 in eFG%, top 15 in true shooting percentage,.... hell, with this. Buddy Hield fills up the net at an amazing rate, scoring at least 30 points ten times this season. He is ridiculously fun to watch and I don't need to explain this further. Go watch him bury a bunch of shots.
HIDE YOUR EYES WHEN
I don't know how they made it in, but no one outside of southwest Ohio wants to see Cincinnati play. They're one of the 40 slowest teams in the country, and unlike Virginia (#25 eFG% in the country), who takes their time to get the best shot possible, Cincinnati takes their time because they can't score a lot. The Bearcats are barely a top 100 offense, but that's mostly because they're a top 25 offensive rebounding team. They have a team effective field goal percentage of just 49%, which ranks #216 in the country. This is bad basketball. Virginia is annoyingly slow basketball and is therefore not fun. Cincinnati is just ugly. Saint Joseph's, please dispatch them with extreme prejudice.