SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – If you’re just now remembering to fill out your March Madness bracket then you may also just be learning that not a single Northern California team qualified for the NCAA Tournament. Assuming your alma mater is also out, then you’re scrambling to find a team to care about. Here are a few suggestions:
San Diego State – The best team in California (according to seeding) is March Madness veteran SDSU. They were a dark horse last year as a number 4 seed, but won’t even be favored in their first game this season against St. Johns. Still, the Aztecs have a very tall, athletic lineup that could give teams that don’t control the paint well some trouble. The team is 200-1 to win the tournament, according to Bovada. So watch them while you can.
Arizona – If you’re looking for a West Coast team likely to be in it for the long run, here’s your squad. They may be listed as the number 2 seed to Wisconsin out west, but the folks in Vegas know better. They say the Wildcats are the second most likely team to win it all. CBS Sports analysts say the cats have the speed and talent on the wings to make a deep run, upset the Badgers and maybe even win it all.
University of Northern Iowa – Who? They don’t have the pedigree of Kentucky or Kansas, but CBS Sports experts say the statistics prove they’re one of the best two-way teams in the nation. There is no local tie here – most of the players are Iowa natives – but if you’re grew up a Disney fan, UNI is is your best bet to emulate Cinderella.
UC Irvine – If you’re hoping to find an underdog a little closer to home, why not put your money on 500-1 shot UC Irvine? The team is making its first tournament appearance against 2013 champion Louisville. If the Big West champs are still playing in a week, everyone will be talking about it. Plus, They have a 7′ 6″ center and their mascot is the Anteaters! I dare you not to pull of them.
Kentucky – They’re the overwhelming favorite, so perhaps not an obvious pick. But wait, they’re also 34-0, which means they have a shot at becoming the 8th team ever to end the season undefeated. Even better: they would be the first team to do it since the bracket expanded to 64 teams in 1985. So while you may be really late to the bandwagon, it could be worth taking a ride into history.