Filling out an NCAA tournament bracket is one of the joys of March, if not the year. Many people’s brackets will be busted within the opening day, and with this year’s field of 68 revealed, our College Basketball expert takes you through his picks and predictions for March Madness.
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March Madness Predictions
Davidson lost out on an Atlantic 10 title on Sunday, but they will not let that disappointment spoil their March Madness. While not a huge difference in seedings. I’m taking the Wildcats to upset the Spartans.
Memphis should roll over Boise State to set up a date with March Madness favorites Gonzaga, and the top seeds elsewhere should all see ‘W’s across the board.
|Gonzaga (1)||vs.||Georgia State (16)||Winner: Gonzaga|
|Boise State (8)||vs.||Memphis (9)||Winner: Memphis|
|UConn (5)||vs.||New Mexico St (12)||Winner: UConn|
|Arkansas (4)||vs.||Vermont (13)||Winner: Arkansas|
|Alabama (6)||vs.||Rutgers/Notre Dame (11)||Winner: Alabama|
|Texas Tech (3)||vs.||Montana State (14)||Winner: Texas Tech|
|Michigan State (7)||vs.||Davidson (10)||Winner: Davidson|
|Duke (2)||vs.||CSU Fullerton (15)||Winner: Duke|
No real surprises jump out in the second round in the West. UConn are a historically strong performing side in March and can take down Arkansas. The battle of two teams from North Carolina goes the way of the Blue Devils, as Davidson faces the end of their road.
|Gonzaga (1)||vs.||Memphis (9)||Winner: Gonzaga|
|UConn (5)||vs.||Arkansas (4)||Winner: UConn|
|Alabama (6)||vs.||Texas Tech (3)||Winner: Texas Tech|
|Davidson (10)||vs.||Duke (2)||Winner: Duke|
Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final year as Duke head coach has rapidly fallen downhill. Losing to rivals North Carolina in his last home game, and missing out on an ACC championship, Duke’s misery will be compounded at the NCAA tournament. Texas Tech is a team I like the look of, and the Blue Devils are out of sorts.
|Gonzaga (1)||vs||UConn (5)||Winner: Gonzaga|
|Texas Tech (3)||vs||Duke (2)||Winner: Texas Tech|
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Virginia Tech took down Duke and North Carolina on their way to an ACC title. Texas is a strong team but takes the form side here. The Hokies are on a roll, and this may be the upset of the first round to back.
A potential Indiana-UCLA matchup in the second round would be all kinds of fun; the Hoosiers salvaged their season in the Big Ten Tournament and looked capable of winning a few games, but needed to win their first four matchup beforehand.
The region seems wide open, and I’m defaulting to a UCLA squad that played so well last March and a guy in Johnny Juzang who shone in the March spotlight.
|Baylor (1)||vs.||Norfolk State (16)||Winner: Baylor|
|North Carolina (8)||vs.||Marquette (9)||Winner: North Carolina|
|Saint Mary’s (5)||vs.||WYO/Indiana (12)||Winner: Saint Mary’s|
|UCLA (4)||vs.||Akron (13)||Winner: UCLA|
|Texas(6)||vs||Virginia Tech (11)||Winner: Virginia Tech|
|Purdue (3)||vs.||Yale (14)||Winner: Purdue|
|Murray State (7)||vs.||San Francisco||Winner: Murray State|
|Kentucky (2)||vs.||Saint Peter’s (15)||Winner: Kentucky|
Reigning Champions Baylor occupy the No.1 seed in the east and have a tough road ahead. North Carolina fell to a tricky Virginia Tech side in the ACC tournament, but RJ Davis, Brady Manek, and Armando Bacot are playing some serious ball, and the Tar Heels can pull off the upset.
|Baylor (1)||vs||North Carolina (8)||Winner: North Carolina|
|Saint Mary’s (5)||vs||UCLA (4)||Winner: UCLA|
|Virginia Tech (11)||vs||Purdue (3)||Winner: Purdue|
|Murray State (7)||vs||Kentucky (2)||Winner: Kentucky|
The Tar Heels would love a run at the ‘ship, but simply put this team is not good enough. Four titans of College Hoops find themselves in the same bracket. UCLA has a point to prove, and Kentucky will not mess about on their way to the Elite Eight.
|North Carolina (8)||vs||UCLA (4)||Winner: UCLA|
|Purdue (3)||vs||Kentucky (2)||Winner: Kentucky|
The 2017 Loyola Chicago team was one many sports fans fell in love with, and the Ramblers are back five years later to give it another go. Taking home a Missouri Valley championship, Loyola will breeze past Ohio State in the first round.
Michigan held a No. 1 seed in last year’s tournament, and the Wolverines have seen a fall from grace. Alas, they are still a part of March Madness and have a gem in Hunter Dickinson. Take Michigan in round one, and the boys in blue will keep dancing.
Elsewhere in the South, it’s plain sailing. Villanova is looking to add to its 12 national championships, with Tennessee hoping their season doesn’t end prematurely.
|Arizona (1)||vs||WRST/BRY (16)||Winner: Arizona|
|Seton Hall (8)||vs||TCU (9)||Winner: Seton Hall|
|Houston (5)||vs||UAB (12)||Winner: Houston|
|Illinois (4)||vs||Chattanooga (13)||Winner: Illinois|
|Colorado State (5)||vs||Michigan (11)||Winner: Michigan|
|Tennessee (3)||vs||Longwood (14)||Winner: Tennessee|
|Ohio State (7)||vs||Loyola Chicago (10)||Winner: Loyola Chicago|
|Villanova (2)||vs||Delaware (15)||Winner: Villanova|
The second round plays into the hands of the top two seeds. Loyola’s fairytale comes to an end, and Seton Hall will receive a humbling from Arizona. Michigan will no doubt give the Longhorns a tough game, but Tennessee will rise above the occasion to book their place in the sweet sixteen.
|Arizona (1)||vs||Seton Hall (8)||Winner: Arizona|
|Houston (5)||vs||Illinois (4)||Winner: Illinois|
|Michigan (11)||vs||Tennessee (3)||Winner: Tennessee|
|Loyola Chicago (10)||vs||Villanova (2)||Winner: Villanova|
This may well be the only region where the top four seeds win to reach the sweet sixteen. The Tennessee/Villanova matchup may well be the most exciting game of the Sweet Sixteen, but it’ll be an all Wildcat elite eight matchup.
|Arizona (1)||vs||Illinois (4)||Winner: Arizona|
|Tennessee (3)||vs||Villanova (2)||Winner: Villanova|
The committee did the Friars no favors with this miscalculation of seedings, handing Providence the No. 4 seed. South Dakota is a very good side, cruising to a victory in the Summit League tournament. While many will be taking the higher seed here, they’d be sleeping on a potential giant-killer.
Iowa was the talking point of all conference tournaments, with a semifinal buzzer-beater and taking down Purdue to win the Big 10 tournament. The Hawkeyes take on Richmond who have been given a No. 12 seed, which flatters the Spiders.
Kansas and Auburn will breeze through the first round, but USC’s tournament will end early. Miami kept it close against Duke in the ACC tournament, and the Hurricanes should prevail.
|Kansas (1)||vs||TXSO/TCC (16)||Winner: Kansas|
|San Diego State (8)||vs||Creighton (9)||Winner: San Diego State|
|Iowa (5)||vs||Richmond (12)||Winner: Iowa|
|Providence (4)||vs||South Dakota St. (13)||Winner: South Dakota St.|
|LSU (6)||vs||Iowa State (11)||Winner: LSU|
|Wisconsin (3)||vs||Colgate (14)||Winner: Wisconsin|
|USC (7)||vs||Miami (10)||Winner: Miami|
|Auburn (2)||vs||Jacksonville State (15)||Winner: Auburn|
South Dakota State may be the highest-seeded team left in the tournament come round two, but Iowa is the team many fans are rooting for. Despite not losing since Dec. 15, their tournament ends here.
LSU just fired coach Will Wade due to NCAA issues, and for a team that has lost 11 of their last 21, it doesn’t look good. Take the top seeds in the second round, and the Jayhawks train keeps on rumbling.
|Kansas (1)||vs||San Diego State (8)||Winner: Kansas|
|Iowa (5)||vs||South Dakota St (13)||Winner: Iowa|
|LSU (6)||vs||Wisconsin (3)||Winner: Wisconsin|
|Miami (10)||vs||Auburn (2)||Winner: Auburn|
If any team has a chance of beating Kansas, then it’s Iowa. The Jayhawks should have walked their way to the sweet sixteen, and this will be their first proper test. Gonzaga and Baylor will be hoping Iowa can do them a favor and take Kansas down early, but this won’t be the case.
Two big schools meet on the other side of the draw, and with Wisconsin already taking down LSU, beating another giant of college sport will be a step too far.
|Kansas (1)||vs||Iowa (5)||Winner: Kansas|
|Wisconsin (3)||vs||Auburn (2)||Winner: Auburn|
Elite Eight Predictions
The Midwest picture has been painted perfectly for No.1 seed Kansas to cruise to a place in the Final Four. The Jayhawks are a class above any side in this bracket, it’ll be a big shock if they do not win their first four games in the tournament. Auburn is their most likely opposition, but the Tigers should be no trouble for KU.
UCLA holds the record for the most NCAA tournament wins, and with good reason. Keeping much of the same team that reached the Final Four last year, the Bruins are out for vengeance. Seeded No. 4 doesn’t tell the whole story, and they’ll be off to Indianapolis.
The No. 1 team in the nation pre-tournament Gonzaga have grabbed the #1 seed in the West, but their path to the final four seems the most difficult of all the top seeds.
Many have picked the Zags to win it all, and it’s hard to see a Final Four without Gonzaga in it. Based on seedings, they would have to take out UConn in the sweet 16 and face either Texas Tech in the elite eight. Either way, I’m picking the Zags to win the West.
Arizona is a team I’ve liked the look of all season and is my pick to win it all this year. The two best teams in the South will meet in the elite eight, with the Wildcats prevailing.
|Kansas (1)||vs||Auburn (2)||Winner: Kansas|
|Arizona (1)||vs||Villanova (2)||Winner: Arizona|
|UCLA (4)||vs||Kentucky (2)||Winner: UCLA|
|Gonzaga (1)||vs||Texas Tech (3)||Winner: Gonzaga|
Final Four Predictions
The Zags were viewed as the best team in the country before the season began, and many believe it will finish that way too. Mark Few’s ranks first in adjusted offensive efficiency groups, seventh in adjusted defensive efficiency and has one of the best in the country in freshman center Chet Holmgren. A repeat heartbreak for UCLA sees the Bruins lose in the final four, but there’s no shame in losing to the Zags.
Arizona has surpassed expectations, and they’re my pick to win it all. Having taken down Kansas, an all-star matchup will see two teams face off for the national championship. Take the Wildcats to win it all, and cap off an amazing season.
|Gonzaga (1)||vs||UCLA (4)||Winner: Gonzaga|
|Kansas (1)||vs||Arizona (1)||Winner: Arizona|
National Championship Prediction
|Gonzaga (1)||vs||Arizona (1)||Winner: Arizona|