Storylines are more intriguing than filling out March Madness brackets

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UNO wins Southland

The UNO Privateers are already big winners this season ahead of their NCAA Tournament appearance.

NEW ORLEANS — OK, let’s take a look at this NCAA Tournament bracket thing.

I’m not going to give you any advice on how to fill out your bracket because you’re better off making your own picks, if you’re so inclined.

But I do have some thoughts on which teams I would like to see do well — or maybe in a couple of cases not do so well — thereby creating a rooting interest based on the teams involved and not the accuracy of predicted outcomes.

Let’s start in the East Region, where No. 1 overall seed and defending national champion Villanova is headed. But more relevant to our purposes, it’s where the University of New Orleans is headed.

First stop for the Privateers is Dayton, Ohio, for a game in the First Four against Mount St. Mary’s at 5:40 p.m. CDT Tuesday. The winner moves on to Buffalo, N.Y., to face the aforementioned Wildcats of Villanova.

UNO is the only school from Louisiana in this tournament and the program’s resurgence is one of the feel-good stories in the tourney. It’ll be fun watching the Privateers on Tuesday and hopefully they’ll get a crack at Villanova too.

Read more about the Privateers:
First Four meeting with Mount St. Mary’s awaits UNO
UNO success today evokes memories of proud Privateer past

Sticking with the provincial theme, let’s keep an eye on Troy, which just won the Sun Belt Conference tournament on UNO’s home-court. Just like the 16th-seeded Privateers, the 15th-seeded Trojans don’t figure to stick around very long.

But the tandem of Wesley Person, whose father and namesake as well as his uncle Chuck both were stars at Auburn, and Jordon Varnado and their teammates has the look of a team that’s oblivious to its seeding. Troy was No. 6 in the Sun Belt.

As for the rest of the East Regional, I tired of Duke long before Grayson Allen showed up and made the Blue Devils even more tiresome so I’ll be jumping on the bandwagon of each of the No. 2 seed’s opponents.

This region can be looked at as a series of auditions for potential candidates to replace Johnny Jones as head coach at LSU. Baylor’s Scott Drew, Virginia Tech’s Buzz Williams (a former UNO head coach), UNC-Wilmington’s Kevin Keatts and East Tennessee State’s Steve Forbes have all been mentioned as potential candidates to lead the Tigers, so check them and their teams out.

On to the South, which is top-heavy in basketball blue bloods North Carolina, Kentucky and UCLA. Wake Forest, coached by Danny Manning, who as a player was the catalyst for one of the great title runs ever (Kansas in 1988), would be a more refreshing team to follow.

Dayton and Middle Tennessee, respectively, offer more LSU auditions with Archie Miller and former Tigers assistant Kermit Davis.

Speaking of Davises, Mike Davis — the former Indiana and UAB head coach — is taking Texas Southern to this tournament for a third time. The Tigers don’t figure to hang around long, but good basketball is played in the SWAC and TSU is worth watching.

Finally in the South, how can you not be intrigued by the Northern Kentucky Norse, making their first trip to the tournament in their first year of eligibility?

Now to the Midwest, where there are more blue bloods in Kansas, Louisville and Michigan State as well as another LSU audition in Nevada coach and former Tigers assistant Eric Musselman.

And finally to the West, where Notre Dame coach Mike Brey is supposedly a potential candidate at LSU as is VCU coach Will Wade.

This region also features Princeton and Ivy League teams are usually fun to watch.

Additionally the West features the Cinderella-iest team of all — the Northwestern Wildcats, making their first NCAA Tournament appearance.

So I’m on board with these Wildcats.

There are plenty of storylines to get us started and others are sure to emerge along the way.

Who needs to fill out a bracket?

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Les East

Les East

SportsNOLA/WHNO-TV/Times-Picayune

Les East is a nationally renown freelance journalist. For 2013 he was named top sports columnist in the United States by the Society of Professional Journalists and Louisiana Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.

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