Sick of hard-hitting analysis of the 2023 NCAA Tournament? Up to your eyeballs in expert picks chock-full of astute takes on players to watch and budding upsets?
Fear not, friends: your pals at Anonymous Eagle are here to inject some half-baked, homespun “insight” into the proceedings, with our (mostly) 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/team we’d pay to watch; a player most likely to carry his team singlehandedly to the Sweet 16; and the best player in the region that you’ve never heard of before.
Let’s see what Bracketville has in store for us in the West Region......
GUTLESS WONDER Pick to Win The Region
Does it get any more gutless than picking the reigning and defending champions to win their region the next year? Yeah, we’re taking the #1 seeded Kansas Jayhawks here. They won the Big 12, beating out Texas by a game in the standings, even though KU lost four of their top five scorers from last year’s national championship team. BREAKING NEWS: Bill Self is very good at this. Heck, the only reason you might doubt Kansas’ ability to win their next four games is because Self spent the last week in the hospital getting two stents put into his circulatory system.
Besides, even if there weren’t very good reasons to like the Jayhawks, the only other option for a Gutless Wonder pick here 1) is coached by Mick Cronin and 2) just lost their #3 scorer and #2 rebounder for the rest of the season, however long that goes for.
CHEX BOLD PARTY MIX Bold Pick To Win The Region
You’re most likely a Marquette fan if you’re reading this. That means you just watched UConn go toe to toe with Marquette in the Big East semifinals. That means you watched Peak UConn Powers when the Golden Eagles went up to The Nutmeg State earlier this season. It means you saw that 16-0 run at Fiserv Forum against the Golden Eagles.
You know what it looks like when Dan Hurley has his team cooking. Connecticut comes into the NCAA tournament with wins in nine of their last 11 games, including dropping MU at home and bopping Providence on the head both at home and at Madison Square Garden, and the only reason they didn’t keep on winning is because they got caught in an Instant Classic against the Golden Eagles in the Big East semis.
You can do a hell of a lot worse than picking KenPom.com’s #4 overall team to win this region.
CRUSH YOUR MAN Upset Special
If you want a seed line upset that isn’t actually an upset, please take #10 Boise State to beat #7 Northwestern. KenPom.com says Boise by 1 with a 55% chance of victory and T-Rank has it the same, but only a 52% chance for the Broncos. You get the credit for picking an upset in the bracket, but the safety net of knowing that you picked the team that was actually favored, albeit in a coin toss situation.
Now, the whole point of this is, as mentioned, CRUSHING YOUR MAN, and picking a favored team doesn’t count there. With that in mind, can I get you to join me in picking #12 VCU to knock off #5 Saint Mary’s? They’re a five seed for a very good reason, but if the Gaels can have off nights and lose games to Washington, New Mexico, Colorado State, and Loyola Marymount, they can absolutely lose to the Rams. VCU has the sixth longest winning streak in the country right now after winning the Atlantic 10 tournament, and they have won 22 of their last 25 games.
Player I’d Pay To Watch
This is the easiest one to fill out maybe of all of the regions, because Drew Timme is in this part of the bracket. The Gonzaga big man is an all-time college basketball great already, no matter what happens in the tournament this year, and that’s just by way of his play on the court.
The rest of it is why I’d pay to watch him. I would like to pass along Matt Norlander’s profile to you (32 minute read!!?! Deadleg, what are we doing here?!?) because it’s chock full of stories like this one:
The most diverse part of Timme’s wardrobe is his collection of cartoon boxers: SpongeBob, Star Wars, Family Guy and more. Forget fancy compressed athletic gear: The dudeman plays in regular underwear, his favorite being orange Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups boxers that show through his white shorts by halftime.
Yup. Shut up and take my money.
The Chiropractor Special aka Who Can Put The Team On His Back?
Since Nick Smith returned to the starting lineup for Arkansas, the Razorbacks have been playing better than their #8 seed and better than their 3-4 record in that time, too. Running the numbers on BartTorvik.com says that the Hogs have been playing like the 20th best team in the country in that time, posting up at #22 on offense and #45 on defense. The 6’5” Smith is averaging 18.1 point, 2.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.4 steals per game in that seven game stretch, and shooting 38% behind the arc, too.
The reason why I want to point this out more than anything is that The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie has Smith as the #11 prospect in the 2023 NBA Draft. Smith missed the first six games of the season for Arkansas, and then missed 13 more in the middle of the year with an injury, and then only played a few minutes off the bench in the next two before getting back into the starting lineup. This is a guy who would get a whole mess of attention on himself and his draft profile if he drags the Razorbacks into the Sweet 16, and if he really is a lottery pick, then he’s definitely capable of doing it.
Best Guy You’ve Never Heard Of
I’m not going to lie to you people here. Sometimes I’m just kicking it around from team to team on the double digit seed lines looking for a star player that’s gone undernoticed on the national scale this season in order to fill this spot. I’m not a savant, I don’t know enough about every single team in the field to jump up and down to point at a guy who needs more praise for this department.
But sometimes I luck into something very fun when I do that. Sometimes I luck into Iona’s leading rebounder and #3 scorer, a guy who’s just short of a double-double per game, but because he’s 1) playing for Iona and 2) Rick Pitino as head coach of the Gaels takes up so much oxygen from the room, this guy doesn’t get enough attention.
You’ll also notice that I’m failing to use this young man’s name. If you caught on already, then you’re preparing for a really great name to drop in just a second, and you’re right.
Let’s all take a minute and stop and celebrate Nelly Junior Joseph, because he rules and his name rules, and it might be very funny if his Gaels eliminate UConn in the first round.