Thanks for all your nominations and recs. Without you guys it'd be impossible for this to get done. Hope you can contribute all the way through this long, long offseason.
I was conflicted about going with 32 and 64. Nominations though came out right down the middle, so we ended up with a total of 48 of our finest Golden Bears in the mix. Thus the top four guys and gals in each bracket get first round byes.
Your brackets are as follows...
Pappy Waldorf Bracket: #1 Aaron Rodgers, #2 Syd'Quan Thompson, #3 Russell White, #4 Jamal Boykin, #5 Kevin Johnson, #6 Alexis Grey-Lawson, #7 Ryan Anderson, #8 Sean Lampley, #9 Bobby Shaw, #10 Andre Carter, #11 Lavelle Hawkins, #12 Robert Jordan
Pete Newell Bracket: #1 Jerome Randle, #2 Scott Fujita, #3 Ashley Walker, #4 Desmond Bishop, #5 Sandy Barbour, #6 JJ Arrington, #7 Vicky Galindo, #8 Hardy Nickerson, #9 The Play Players, #10 Jerrott Willard, #11 Jeff Kent, #12 David Ortega
Brick Muller Bracket: #1 Matt Biondi, #2 Jahvid Best, #3 Theo Robertson, #4 Dante Hughes, #5 Nick Harris, #6 Desean Jackson, #7 Deltha O'Neal, #8 Justin Forsett, #9 Glenn Seaborg, #10 Kevin Parker, #11 Milica Vukadinovic, #12 Steve Bartkowski
Joe Kapp Bracket: #1 Alex Mack, #2 Patrick Christopher, #3 Michelle Granger, #4 Tosh Lupoi, #5 Geoff Macarthur, #6 Joe Igber, #7 Tyson Alualu, #8 Nnamdi Asomugha, #9 Ed Gray, #10 Sean Dawkins, #11 Tyson Ross, #12 Angie Pressey
To view the full bracket and tentative schedule, click here.
One man or woman will emerge from each bracket, with two wildcard picks possible afterwards. Make your predictions in the comments--when this is all over in a few months, we'll revisit and see who came closest to the mark. Analysis coming up.
Pappy Waldorf Bracket
Rodgers was denied last year due to the Chuck Muncie freight train--many of our readers rose up as one and made sure the past was settled before the present. Losses in the wildcard vote to Joe Roth and Natalie Coughlin are nothing to be sad about. It just set him up for de facto #1 status this year--only Randle and Mack earned more recs.
Safe to say Aaron has a better shot at it this year; as a one seed in the football heavy bracket, his road looks pretty good to the Elite 8. Unless the Sean Lampley/Bobby Shaw fan club starts rolling, a Sweet 16 matchup with two of Cal's hardest workers (Boykin and KJ) is in line.
Two of Cal's most lovable athletes square off in the bottom half of the bracket, with AGL and the Hawk going at it. Neither were as physically gifted as their counteparts but they always gave it their all, and it was a pleasure to watch them game-by-game. The fan love will need to carry them past that though, because a date with White looms in the second round.
The Squid is in a tough position--although he can probably get through the Anderson-Carter matchup, can he get past the likely White and Rodgers combo? No denying his excellence, but going up against one of Cal's greatest rushers and QBs in back-to-back rounds is not going to be easy. Look for White to make noise after making the Sweet 16 last year--I'm guessing he's going to be a tough out for anyone.
Dark horse: White
Upset potential: Hawk
Pete Newell Bracket
Randle is flush off cleaning up the Pac-10 awards. Can he find another prize to claim in a Hall of Fame bid first year running?
He doesn't get an easy draw though; he probably has the hardest time of any 1 seed to get to the Elite 8. Right off the bat, he has to deal with either the monster Nickerson or the exalted Play Players. Moen, Rodgers, Garner and Ford made plenty of noise last year, upsetting Galindo and Walker before falling to Coach Tedford. Nickerson had an unlucky draw and faced Tony G right off the bat last year; it doesn't seem like his road gets any easier this year.
After that nightmare matchup, Jerome can find no sweetness in the round of 16; the best linebacker of the past decade or our current AD will be vying for another upset. Seeding just never seems to be fair to our little guy, although this is probably an easier matchup than the Round of 32.
The bottom half of the bracket is a total mess--anyone could advance to the Elite 8 without shocking you. Arrington is probably the one to watch though; as a 3 seed he nearly knocked off Leon Powe last year. Fujita is fresh off winning a Super Bowl and got a lot of love rec-wise (he wasn't nominated last year), but as a two seed he's in a tough position; the Galindo-Willard winner will give him all he can handle in Round 2, with either Walker or Arrington coming up in Round 3. Tough matchups for Scott, who will need all the help he can get to the final round. And don't sleep on Ashley, Cal's great women basketballer. We could have a lot of close ones in this bracket before all is said and done.
Dark horse: JJ
Upset potential: The Play players
Brick Muller Bracket
Biondi has come a long way from his Sweet 16 run next year as a 12 seed, earning top 4 status in this tournament. Cal fans everywhere recognized his all-around brilliance as a swimmer last year, upsetting Sean Lampley and Joe Igber before finally falling to Gonzalez in a surprisingly close finale.
However, plenty of upset potential exists ahead; his first matchup would be against the Forsett/Seaborg winner, with a likely date against Dante Hughes coming in the Sweet 16. If he can survive the young Cal football love though, his road to the Elite 8 is there.
I'm pretty sure he's happy with his side of the draw though, because the bottom half of the bracket is filled with awesome. True and total awesome. Desean. Milica. Theo. Deltha, who was very underseeded at 7. And probably the favorite to make it from this side, Jahvid. A minefield of some of the greatest Cal athletes of our time will be going up against each other, with the likely highlight being a Best vs. O'Neal faceoff in the Round of 32. And we haven't even gotten to the Sweet 16 faceoff and the 10% chance of a Desean-Jahvid Road Runner showdown. Who will Cal fans go with on this side?
Dark horse: Deltha
Upset potential: Seaborg
Joe Kapp bracket
Mack probably has the best draw of all the #1 seeds, Although a dangerous matchup could be looming with Asomugha (who put a scare into Deltha last season) in the second round, if he can get past that, the Final Four will be his to lose. Tosh is a fresh face, but it's hard to see Cal fans turning out in droves to vote for him until we see the recruiting classes he's assembled on the field. Macarthur could make some noise after getting steamrolled by Jack Clark in the second round last year; his matchup with Lupoi will be a tough one to figure out.
The bottom half of the bracket does have intriguing second round matchups, with Granger likely to face off against Igber (Ross is a nice new face, but he'd have to put up a shocker to displace Joe). Neither lasted long last year (Igber going out in the second round to Biondi, Granger shocked in the first round by Morgan Beck, who made a Sweet 16 run last year), but at least one of them will end up in the third round.
Christopher is the prohibitive favorite to come out of the bottom half, but don't discount a potential showdown with Alualu in the second round, which could be one of the tightest votes of the old guard. And expect Granger or Igber to rep the old guard in the Sweet 16.
Everyone in this group is going to have to do a lot to displace Alex though, and it's going to take more than GC-161.
Dark horse: Christopher
Upset potential: Asomugha
What to watch out for:
1) Upsets. Expect plenty of them. Four #1 seeds and two #2 seeds made it in the final 8 last year. I doubt things will be that orderly this year.
Why? A lot of younger faces are in the top seeds--three of the #1 seeds and three of the #2 seeds are from 2004 and later, five of whom moved on in the past TWO years. But...
2) Don't sleep on the elders--these guys have been here longer, and there are lots of Cal fans from earlier ages who can split the vote down the line and make things very difficult for the young'ins. A Deltha or a Willard could make some pretty big noise.
3) Tight matchups. Although last year there were some clear favorites who you knew would probably get to the end, it's VERY hard to project who will end up in the Sweet 16, much less than the Elite 8. It's hard to see much of a difference between a 2 and a 7 seed--the qualifications come up about the same for everyone here.
It's a very even field, unlike last year when you could delineate the faves very quickly, very early. There's not as much star power, but the voting could be much more exciting.
4) #1 seeds could go down, and they could go down quick. Other than Rodgers, no one's road to the Elite 8 is secure. Randle, Biondi and Mack all have tough second round draws, and their third round games are no pushovers either. Anything could happen.
It's gonna be a good one this year. First matchups start this Saturday and Sunday (check the brackets for tentative schedules). See you on the weekend.