The 68 teams have been chosen for the 2013 NCAA’s Mens Basketball Tournament and play begins tomorrow. My alma mater, Middle Tennessee State University is back at the “Big Dance” for the first time since 1989. The Blue Raiders face St. Mary’s tomorrow night in Dayton, Ohio for the right to be the 11th seed in the Midwest Region. At 28-5, MTSU claimed just one win over a top 100 program this season; a win against the West Region’s number 12 seed Ole Miss. Even though defending National Champion Kentucky scored six wins over top 100 teams, the Wildcats were on the outside looking in. So was Tennessee, and the Vols at 20-12 will play in the NIT for the second straight year. U.T. will host Mercer Wednesday night in an opening round NIT contest.
The Southeastern Conference appeared to be snubbed by the NCAA Selection Committee. Only three teams were invited, and regular season champ Florida will be the third seed in the South Region. Even though the Louisville Cardinals are the top over-all seed, this year’s tournament is wide open. Any one of several different teams could bring home the big trophy, and that includes Florida. The Gators are my “darkhorse” pick right now, because they should win their first two games and advance to the “Sweet 16”. From there, anything can happen.
In picking the national champ, I am leaning toward either Louisville or Indiana. The Cardinals are the top seed in the Midwest, while the Hoosiers are seeded number one in the East. (I’ll publish my official picks on Wednesday morning)
As I have mentioned in the past, I have always been terrible at picking NCAA Tournament Brackets. Women always do much better than me, and I have never figured that out. I always spend some time, going over the team records, their trends, etc. This year, I have decided to take a more simplistic approach. “Gut” reaction or simply, how a certain game feels will mean more to me this year than a lot of analysis. I may even try the old standard female trick of picking games based upon team colors or team mascots. Anything would work better than my past brackets.
Regardless, I will be picking my bracket for fun; not money. (It’s easy to say that when you never win any money) I am picking my bracket just so I can finally say, “I can pick college basketball.” With a wide open field, it should be a lot of fun.
The state of Tennessee has a grand total of three teams going to the “Big Dance.” MTSU, Memphis and Belmont are all in, while Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and many others are out.
Speaking of women, the NCAA Womens Tournament will have its selection show tonight, and fans are anxious to see where the Lady Mocs and the U.T. Lady Vols go. UTC won both the regular season Southern Conference crown and tournament title, while Tennessee, with first year Head Coach Holly Warlick won the SEC regular season title but was upset in the league tournament. I really hope that UTC can win a game or two in this year’s tournament. A “Sweet 16” trip to match the UTC men’s finest hour in 1997, would be great for veteran Coach Wes Moore. It begins a three week run tomorrow night, so…………..Let the Games Begin!
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).