It's not madness to pick Virginia

Rick Snider
March 12, 2018 - 11:50 am
Tony_Bennett_Virginia

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

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It feels like there’s only two teams that should be in your bracket final – Virginia and Villanova.

Madness stops after the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. The traditional kingpins are the ones to ride when picking your bracket. That said, Virginia hasn't reached a Final Four since 1984, but the Cavaliers are the nation’s best team and will win the national title. Sprinkle in Duke, Villanova and Michigan in the Final Four and thoughts of Cinderellas like Butler, Clemson, N.C. State and Oklahoma are soon forgotten.

Stick with big names. There’s no sleeper in this field. Nor is there a dominant sure thing, but the Cavaliers are so deep and balanced they can take anything thrown at them. North Carolina came at Virginia repeatedly in the ACC Championship and Virginia repelled them each time. The Cavs won’t dominate teams, but they won’t be intimidated either.

Virginia’s sorta a local team with many UVA grads in the Washington area. But it’s the first time since 1978 that a bonafide Washington school wasn't in the tournament. While that keeps loyalty from tainting your picks, it won’t be enough for some analytics nerd from stealing the office pool anyway.

Winning your bracket requires a few upsets, though. There doesn't appear to be any classic 5-12 upsets lurking, but all four No. 10s can upset No. 7s in the first round. No. 10 Texas will beat No. 7 Nevada. No. 10 Providence should surprise No. 7 Texas A&M. No. 10 Butler can upend No. 7 Arkansas. No. 10 Oklahoma downs No. 7 Rhode Island. None of these first-round winners survive the weekend, but it’s four easy points to help win your pool.

March Madness is anything but predictable, but that’s the way to bet it this year.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks