We're approximately 24 hours from the start of the greatest sporting event in the world, which means the bracket predictions are rolling in at a (too) fast and (too) furious pace.
While in recent years it has seemed like Louisville's been a trendy upset or Cinderella Final Four pick, the opposite seems to be the case in 2012. Perhaps it's the lack of success the Cards have had in the past two tournaments, but it certainly seems as though the world believes they're going to have a tough time with Davidson, and that if they survive that game they aren't headed much further.
Jeff Goodman and Gregg Doyel both have the Cards bowing out to the Wildcats in their first game, but, you know, that's typical. About a thousand people at ESPN like Davidson (Google search it), including their big dog, Jason King.
No. 13 Davidson over No. 4 Louisville (West Region) -- This isn't Seth Curry's Davidson team, but Bob McKillop's squad is dangerous, nonetheless. Davidson defeated Kansas 80-74 in Kansas City back on Dec. 19. And the Wildcats went an impressive 16-2 in their conference. Louisville is one of the country's best defensive teams, but overall, the Cardinals have a small margin for error.
The ESPN mid-major blog also has some sort of crazy formula that winds up with Louisville losing to Davidson as the third most-likely upset in the tournament at 29.1%.
President Obama actually has the Cards advancing to the third (second) round, but then has them falling to New Mexico. This wouldn't be a big deal if U of L weren't the only 1-4 seed the president doesn't have in his Sweet 16. Also, make a political comment below and I cut you.
Perhaps the most troubling pick of Davidson over Louisville is the one made by CBS' Matt Norlander. He's an awfully smart dude, and he had Morehead State beating the Cards last year. He attended that game and will be at the game in Portland tomorrow.
Biggest reason for the pick: Davidson has the ability to handle what Louisville does best -- press teams. The Wildcats turn the ball over 17.2 percent of the time, the 13th-best rate amongst tournament teams and No. 22 in all of college hoops this year. Inversely, Louisville has the sixth-worst turnover rate in the field, getting charitable and stupid 21.5 percent of the time.
I also like teams that make most of their free throws. Davidson sinks 77 percent of its foul shots -- top 10 in the nation. There's a great dichotomy between the Wildcats' good free-throw shooting and its penchant for letting the rockets fly from deep. J.P. Kuhlman, Nik Cochran, Chris Czerapowicz, De'Mon Brooks and Jake Cohen -- five starters -- shoot 34.2 percent or better from 3-point range.
I also like to pick a team to get an early upset when they've actually proven, at least once, they can beat a four seed or better from earlier in the season. The date: Monday, Dec. 19, 2011. The location: Kansas City. The result: Davidson 80, Kansas 74. That's a good sign. The Wildcats also looked decent in Cameron at Duke in November and fell by just four to Vandy in December. All three of those teams are better than Louisville which, if you could take a microscope and examine its DNA, is more of a six seed anyway.
Take Davidson. Feel good about it. Its coach, Bob McKillop, has been to a few rodeos before.
Thankfully, the glow of my infra-red Big East championship shirt no longer makes it possible for me to read. Otherwise I'd be worried. Ok, I'm still worried.
Just win that first one and then I think everyone (including us) loosens up.