Tennessee is looking to recapture its glory from the 1990s. Join us daily at SEC Country for the latest Tennessee recruiting news and notes on the next crop of Volunteers.
The day is finally here — the opening day of March Madness. It’s like a national holiday for sports fans.
In preparation, you probably already thought of everything. You remembered to call out of work sick. You ordered pizza, wings or whatever it is that you plan to gorge yourself with as you remain stationary for the next 12 hours. You spent way too long digging through the guide on your TV trying to figure out exactly which channel TruTv is again. You gathered every possible piece of technology in your house that could broadcast basketball, and you even mapped out an hour-by-hour guide to make sure you didn’t miss any action.
When you finally sit down to begin the mental preparation required to take in that much basketball the horror strikes you — you’ve forgotten to fill out your bracket.
OK, so maybe that’s a stretch. But there are still plenty of people that are waiting until the last possible minute for that vein of wisdom to strike before they construct the (not-so) perfect bracket. Luckily, SEC Country has brought in bracketology expert Kenan Jones, who also happens to be a 4-star receiver recruit that was formerly committed to LSU with offers from about half the teams in the SEC including Tennessee.
OK, so maybe that’s a stretch, too. But the nation’s No. 41 wide receiver is the perfect candidate to drop some last-minute March Madness advice because like many of you seeking out wisdom just before the first tipoff, Jones had yet to sit down and fill out his bracket when he offered up his opinions on the 2017 tournament. So here are a few things that Jones is keeping his eye on, unfettered by the overthinking that comes when the paper or computer screen is actually in front of you.
1. Pencil in those No. 1 seeds
Everyone always wants to be the one to predict the first 16 seed to top off a top-ranked team, but this isn’t going to be the year. North Carolina, Villanova, Gonzaga and Kansas are all safe, for now.
In fact, Jones went as far as to say that he never thinks a No. 16 seed will top a No. 1 seed.
2. Bet on Duke, not on Villanova
“I’m just feeling Duke,” Jones said. It’s not necessarily a bold strategy to bet on a No. 2 seed, especially not one with a five-time championship winning head coach. But Duke has shown some inconsistency this season and there really isn’t one sure-fire favorite.
Sure “just feeling” a team doesn’t sound very convicted, but it’s not really any worse than any other strategy. Even with advanced metrics and tons of analysis, nobody has ever gotten remotely close to having the perfect bracket. Jones is going with his gut and it’s not a bad strategy.
And if going with Duke makes you feel like you need to bounce out another high seed somewhere else, Jones suggests Villanova, the No. 1 seed he feels has the highest bust potential.
3. Not feeling Duke? UCLA could surprise some people
As a No. 3 seed, UCLA isn’t exactly an underdog, but it hasn’t been getting as much attention in a region that includes North Carolina and a Wichita State team that’s been the trendy low seed to make a deep run pick as the No. 10 seed.
Jones needed just one word to explain why he likes UCLA: “Ball.” That’s the Bruins third-leading scorer Lonzo Ball. Ball came on strong in Pac-12 play, scoring 15.7 points per game in 18 games as just a true freshman. He also led the nation with 7.7 assists per game and is a consensus lottery pick. Players can make or break a reputation in the tournament, and this could be Ball’s time to shine.
4. Picking based on mascot fights? Nothing beats a Hurricane
Every year someone spends way too much time making their bracket decisions based on which mascot would win in a head-to-head fight.
To save everyone some time: it’s Miami. It’s hard to imagine anything beating a natural disaster in a fight and Jones agrees, the hurricane is the unbeatable foe.
Miss a previous edition? Find all your SEC Country Tennessee Vols recruiting news here.