Bradley’s Bracket Fiasco: UGA to surprise, Buckeyes to win

Don't think UGA could beat Carolina? Georgia Tech did. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Don't think UGA could beat North Carolina? Let's note that Georgia Tech did. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

The 24th annual edition of Bradley’s Bracket Fiasco — yes, next year will mark our silver anniversary; time flies, huh? — begins with words to commit to memory: The RPI matters. Georgia not only made the NCAA tournament field but made it with room to spare, whereas Alabama, which beat the Bulldogs twice in seven days, wasn’t invited.

But enough about that. We here have a time-honored function, and that’s to pick a Final Four. Here’s mine: Ohio State, Duke, Purdue and Florida.

Regarding Georgia: As a No. 10 seed, the Bulldogs not only avoided having to play a game in Dayton just to get into the big bracket, but they find themselves in a position to do damage. Washington is a nice team — it has a great guard in Isaiah Thomas and some size underneath — but Georgia has good perimeter players and some big guys, too. (And Washington has to travel across country, which never helps. Although Friday’s game will begin at roughly 9:45 p.m. EDT.) Georgia should win Friday in Charlotte, and I see it …

Here I pause for effect.

Upsetting North Carolina in Round 2.

I know, I know. The Tar Heels flew past Duke to finish first in the ACC, and Georgia has spent the past two months losing to most everyone of consequence. But on talent such a game would be no mismatch, and the SEC East was much tougher than the ACC as a whole. I’ve waited a long time for the Bulldogs to play to their gifts, and now we’re down to last chances. Either Georgia makes some noise in Charlotte or it returns to Athens wondering what might have been.

That said, do I see the Bulldogs making a 1983-type Final Four surge? Uh, no. The Bulldogs don’t shoot well enough to unlock the Syracuse zone, and the East is also home to the nation’s best team (Ohio State) and its most improved (Kentucky). A Buckeyes-Wildcats Sweet 16 matchup would be tantamount to an Elite Eight game most years, and I think Ohio State wins it.

Duke is seeded No. 1 in the West, a geographical note that will matter only the second weekend since the Blue Devils likewise start in Charlotte. The only threat I see to Duke in this region is … well, nobody. San Diego State? No. Texas? No way. And UConn, the No. 3 seed, will do as other Big East champs have done — prove in the NCAA that the effort expended in winning a conference tournament wasn’t worth it.

I’m  picking against Kansas in the Southwest for a scientific reason: I’m tired of picking Kansas and being wrong. The Jayhawks should reach the regional final, but I’m saying what-the-heck and going with Purdue to emerge here. Matt Painter: Good coach. JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore: Good players. And don’t the Boilermakers, who are entering yet another Big Dance without Robbie Hummel, deserve a break?

I view Pitt, which is seeded No. 1 in the Southeast, as the Kansas of the East: It’s a team that looks great up until the point where it wrecks your bracket. Florida lost the SEC tournament final to Kentucky, but the Gators got both a better seeding and a softer regional than the Wildcats. Florida has great guards, a nice big man in Vernon Macklin and a coach who knows the way. Make it four Final Fours for Billy Donovan as a coach. (And one, a while back, as a Providence shooter.)

More upsets? So many folks will take Belmont over Wisconsin that it will be no surprise when it happens. Also look for Old Dominion to take down Butler, last year’s takedown artist, and don’t be shocked when the Wofford Terriers take out BYU and Jimmer Fredette. And don’t be totally shocked if Morehead State gives Louisville a rough ride in Round 1. I’m too chicken to pick the Eagles over the Cardinals, but maybe you’re not.

As for the Final Four semis: Ohio State over Duke, Florida over Purdue. Those teams played for the title in 2007 in our fair city, the Gators winning. Not this time. Buckeyes as your 2011 national champions.

Those are my picks. I beseech you to submit yours by clicking here. (You must enter Bradley’s Bracket Fiasco online. We no longer accept mail entries.) Our winner will reap the customary Final Four sweatshirt, plus a 32GB iPad with WiFi and 3G capability; our second- and third-place finishers will receive a 32GB iPod Touch. And, by entering the Fiasco, you’ll automatically be eligible to win a $1 million prize in the national UPICKEM bracket competition.

And that’s it. The best three weeks on the sporting calendar are upon us. Please click the link. Please enter the Fiasco. Please join me as we make the descent into Madness.

By Mark Bradley

For a look at my completed (and completely crazy) bracket, click here.

321 comments Add your comment

headley lamar

March 13th, 2011
8:31 pm

Heckuva turnaround in only two years for Fox.

xray

March 13th, 2011
8:36 pm

The DUKE over Ohio State.

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2011
8:38 pm

It is. But let’s recall that five of Georgia’s six best players were recruited by Dennis Felton.

headley lamar

March 13th, 2011
8:39 pm

BTW. Just filled out the winning bracket. Dont waste your time.

5150 UOAD

March 13th, 2011
8:40 pm

Fox better chat with Hewitt because Hewitt has beat Roy Williams often enough.

nola dawg fan

March 13th, 2011
8:41 pm

MB – this will be the pick that breaks your dubious streak of “jinking” local teams. I could not agree w/. you more. UGA has not played that “complete” game since UK at home. And why not do it against UNC… who will no doubt be looking ahead. Has young guards who might be playing tight at home, etc…

At least we are having the discussion… btw, you going? (hope so,. always enjoy the live blog)

Dan

March 13th, 2011
8:42 pm

After recovering from shock that you picked Duke to win its region, I apologize for having to point out Ohio State will only be able to play Duke in the national championship game

West (Duke #1 seed ) plays Southeast (Pitt #1 seed) i the national semis

Dawgfan0711

March 13th, 2011
8:42 pm

I hope you’re right mb, but I don’t think uga has the depth to beat unc. I’m a dawg fan but I think we are one and done but I will be watching and hoping for a run from our bulldogs.

nola dawg fan

March 13th, 2011
8:42 pm

jinxing* … not jinking.. was just typing so fast, still can’t believe we are a 10! wow… deep breath

good luck

March 13th, 2011
8:42 pm

honestly, I am glad for UGA and I hope this keeps you Mark preoccupied for the next two weeks so you will stay out of GT’s business. No offense, but whoever you attempt to push GT to hire as head coach, I hope GT does just the opposite.

Roy Williams

March 13th, 2011
8:42 pm

Ugag over Carolina. Funny. But Paul Hewitt still owns me.

BobDawg

March 13th, 2011
8:45 pm

…..Mark, think we can solve the last 5 minutes of the game, make free throws and get a win or two??

Jones

March 13th, 2011
8:45 pm

Let’s not get too carried away with with MB has to say….

Mark Bradley
March 11th, 2011
2:42 pm:

Leslie lob-dunk off a break from Robinson. Lead is 14. Over.

aaron

March 13th, 2011
8:46 pm

i love the DAWGS, but it’s crazy to think they’d get past carolina. we could be up 20 with 5 minutes left, and the lead still wouldn’t be safe.

JOSH B.

March 13th, 2011
8:47 pm

Mark, yes you are right that five of Georgia’s six best players were recruited by Dennis Felton, but he was not loved by AAU and HS coaches in the state and thus we missed on more talent than we got to go to Athens. Already seeing a big surge by Fox and the tourney bid plus a coaching search at the bee hive should only help.

Fooball Expert

March 13th, 2011
8:47 pm

How did Tennessee edge out Alabama to get in ?

law student

March 13th, 2011
8:47 pm

Certainly still work to be done, but what Fox has done is remarkable.

skydawg

March 13th, 2011
8:48 pm

If the Dawgs get any perimeter game going at all, they can be very dangerous. Thompkins if finally feeling healthy and Leslie is peaking. I think the Dawgs can make a Sweet 16 run, but I also know they can lose a big first half lead and collapse against Washington. Just depends on what team decides to show up. But I think the SEC East and some tough out of conference games will have them prepared for the tourny. Only time will tell though.

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2011
8:49 pm

I’m afraid Ohio State and Duke would meet in the semis. The East plays the West.

70 tons of trash

March 13th, 2011
8:50 pm

You won’t even get past Washington… Nice dreams!

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2011
8:51 pm

I am headed to Charlotte, nola. Thanks for the inquiry.

jdawg

March 13th, 2011
8:52 pm

A small but significant step for UGA basketball. As a lifetime Dog fan, I would be perfectly happy with the b-ball boys fininshing with a respectable SEC record, and a tourney championship every 4-5 years. An NCAA bid 3 out of every 4-5 years, and just a competitive program is all I could ask for. Congrats Coach Fox. I feel as if the comittee gave you a “we believe you are improving” bid. Give them a reason to be glad they did.

skydawg

March 13th, 2011
8:53 pm

@Football Expert. Tennessee had a MUCH stronger RPI and played a schedule 10 times harder than Bama. Just like Bamas football team. Nothing but patsies until it’s conference play. I’m glad it bit their B-ball team in the arse.

5150 UOAD

March 13th, 2011
8:55 pm

Not Getting AAU players is not necessarily a bad thing. Hewitt got tons of the Atlanta Celtics. They ran for the NBA and killed the team and Hewitt.

whats a three point shot worth ?

March 13th, 2011
8:57 pm

They will never make it past Washington.

Dan

March 13th, 2011
8:57 pm

My bad Mark – read my bracket wrong

Bama 13

March 13th, 2011
8:58 pm

Mark, why do the TV guys interview the head of the selection committee? When asked about teams (like Bama, Colorado and Harvard) that didn’t get in, he gave’ em the Heisman. A fist full o’ nothing. “They just didn’t get enough votes” he says. Really, Sherlock? No shinola? Hey fellas, I got the answer straight from the chief: we didn’t get enough VOTES! We should probably try to get more of those next time.

Dweezil

March 13th, 2011
8:58 pm

I know you Georgia homers feel great just to get to post-season, your football team got to a bowl game with a 6-6 record, your basketball team will get a lead, and die of fatigue before the game ends. You don’t have a bench.

meth

March 13th, 2011
8:59 pm

Bradley – Meth. keep smoking it. I guess working for the AJC means you are about as clueless as Lunardi.

JDO

March 13th, 2011
9:02 pm

BWAHAHAHA!!! DUDE, UGA PLAYS IN THE SEC BASKETBALL CONFRENCE… TOTAL FAIL! THEY WILL LOSE TO ANY LEGIT TEAM OUTSIDE THE SEC.

Hilton Head Island

March 13th, 2011
9:02 pm

After recovering from shock that you picked Ohio State to win it’s region,
I apoligize for pointing out the only way Duke will get to play Ohio State is
in the National Championship game.

Buckeyes get knocked off early.

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2011
9:03 pm

The East plays the West in the semifinals. Period. I’m right on this.

ormewood

March 13th, 2011
9:04 pm

Dawgs will have difficulty getting past the Huskies. If they do, their style of play feeds right into the way UNC plays. Plus, UNC has won a slew of close games. Dawgs have lost practically all of the ones they’ve been involved in. Crowd will be predominantly UNC, too.

phillip

March 13th, 2011
9:08 pm

Good luck to the Dogs. Yall gave us fits this year. Roll Tide.

5150 UOAD

March 13th, 2011
9:10 pm

I don’t think Mark Fox is ready to match wits with ROY WILLIAMS. Fox hasn’t been here much. ROY LIVES in the NCAA TOURNEY.

George

March 13th, 2011
9:11 pm

@ Skydawg. Bama should have been in the tourney as well as UGA. It doesn’t matter how bad our schedule was, we beat UGA (as usual) heads up twice. As far as football goes, we have opened up in Atlanta the last 2 out of 3 years playing Va Tech & Clemson. At the time, they were both highly ranked. Yeah, we played a patsy and I think it was a Blackout game. Grow up.

DawginLex

March 13th, 2011
9:11 pm

I would like to congratulate the selection committee on making a fine decision of including the Georgia Bulldogs and excluding the trailer park dwelling, inbred, hillbilly, no teeth clan from Alabama.

Fine job.

Go Dawgs

Roll over and play dead tide

Next time, actually play somebody pre-conference and you might be in like the DAWGS!!!

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gordon

March 13th, 2011
9:13 pm

Mark is a great writer, but when he says “I know, I know…” you should stop reading right there.

Hilton Head Island

March 13th, 2011
9:13 pm

Thanks for the correction Mark.

Dan from Ohio State misled me, . . . . that figures.

Dweezil

March 13th, 2011
9:14 pm

Mark-

Gators will win it all, they’re great against the better teams, and have excellent championship coaching.

headley lamar

March 13th, 2011
9:14 pm

Yeah, we played a patsy and I think it was a Blackout game. Grow up.

Thats the only one youve won out of the last 4.

It doesn’t matter how bad our schedule was

Obviously it does and did to the people that matter.

George

March 13th, 2011
9:15 pm

@ DawinLex ….. Real classy dude. Jealous much. You do have a good gymnastics team. I am pulling for Georgia but people like you make it hard.

DawginLex

March 13th, 2011
9:17 pm

Kentucky exposed Florida today. their 2 seed is a joke.

Kentucky would win Florida’s region.

DawginLex

March 13th, 2011
9:17 pm

George,

Apparently you don’t read much from the Tide idiots

Big Jacket

March 13th, 2011
9:17 pm

Even a time out will not help. Washington by 20, but to keep headley lamar happy, Washington by 10. But they can stay and watch NC play in round 2.

SE GA DAWG Fan

March 13th, 2011
9:18 pm

Mark,
Thanks for you support (finally)…

IceColdATLien

March 13th, 2011
9:18 pm

Other than the fact that it won’t let me save my championship pick, your game is great MB!!

George

March 13th, 2011
9:19 pm

Good luck dawgs. I hope you upset some teams and do the SEC proud. I think Bama should have been included but I am not blind, we have no shooters on the team. We will be much better next year . Coach Grant has done an excellent job in his 2nd tear. our team plays hard. For now, that’s all I can ask for.

George

March 13th, 2011
9:21 pm

Year, not tear. Although I might have had one rolling. JK.

DawginLex

March 13th, 2011
9:23 pm

I actually like Grant. Georgia deserved to be in. Bama needed to play better comp in pre season. Future is bright for both