Tom Wilson, partner of the Kaufman Zita Group, thinks the University of Vermont has a better chance of getting to the NCAA ice hockey’s Frozen Four than basketball’s Final Four. But since his team has won 14 of their last 15 games and pulled through double overtime against Hartford in the America East Semifinals, Wilson is feeling upbeat about his chances in NJBIZ Brackets, and is leading the charge to name Vermont the “Butler of 2012.”
“We would definitely kick Lamar’s butt in skiing,” Wilson said of tonight’s play-in game against the Cardinals, represented by AgileEvolution‘s Stacia Viscardi. “But still, there are a lot of things working in UVM’s favor for this game. We usually perform well in the first one, but going against UNC will be tough.”
Tonight will conclude the play-in games for the full field, and it’s so far been a competitive one at NJBIZ Brackets, which for the second year is pitting New Jersey executives against each other as their almae matres duke it out on the court.
According to Wilson, the Catamounts have the advantage of “being in the pressure of the dance,” since they have made five March Madness appearances in the last 10 years, and Lamar hasn’t slipped on its Cinderella shoes in 12 years.
“No one would ever mistake Vermont for a Big 10 powerhouse, but they play a game similar to Princeton. Methodical, patient, defensive,” Wilson said. “I think tonight we’ll see good defense from both sides. We definitely won’t be seeing much running or high scoring.”
Like Wilson, Ashley Smith, associate account executive for the MMW Group, and her fiancé are betting on their alma mater, the University of South Florida, to bring their defensive game to the tournament.
“This is the first time the Bulls have made the NCAA tournament in 20 years, and this team is so much better defensively,” Smith said. “You can’t go wrong with playing a smart defense. That’s how we’re winning.”
Back when Smith was at USF, the team had a hard time finding balance and strategy between offense and defense. Smith attributes the Bulls’ recent success to Stan Heath, who became head coach in 2007, and for tonight’s game, she’s putting her faith in freshman point guard Anthony Collins to “run the team, drive to the basket a lot and make shots from the outside.”
“I’m hoping that we come to play and show the world who the Bulls are,” Smith said. “This is a huge moment, and I hope they live every second of it.”
To do so, they’ll have to get past Ravinder Bhalla, Hoboken city council president and attorney, whose hard-charging California also is seeking a berth in the Midwest bracket.