March Madness is a wonderful time of the year. Time to pick my bracket. upsets, final 4, and Champion.
First off, shout out to the school I currently attend, University at Albany in the 16 seed play-in game, with a chance to win and play Florida. Anyways, I have Florida winning rounds 2 & 3 fairly easily and heading into the Sweet 16. I am a big fan of the 2nd round matchup of Syracuse vs. Ohio State, who both have trouble scoring and both play solid defensively. I think Cuse poses to much of a problem for OSU and advances passed them to the Sweet 16. My sleeper of the bracket, who I have advancing into the Elite 8 is New Mexico. New Mexico had a 15-3 conference record and had key wins against SDSU & Cincinnati. Kirk & Bairstow are going to eat Kansas up down low on the glass. I also like them in the Sweet 16 matchup, versus Syracuse because they don’t allow an overwhelming amount of points per game and Syracuse has proven they have an issue with scoring the basketball. I like UCLA’s team against FL in the Sweet 16 but not enough to pick against the best team in the Country. Florida’s defense, senior leadership and Billy Donovan’s proven success will be too great to overcome. In my Elite 8 matchup of Florida & New Mexico, I’m going to choose Florida. Florida is the best team in this tournament and may have the best PG in the entire country in Scotty Wilbekin leading them.
- Sleeper: New Mexico
- Final 4 Representative: Florida
The number 1 seed, is a much deserving team in Virginia who won the regular season and conference tournament in the ACC. I believe Virgina’s road to the Sweet 16 seems fairly obvious, especially how well Tony Bennett’s team plays defense; 1st in the entire country in points allowed per game. One of my favorite 2nd round matchups in the entire tournament is the 5/12 matchup in this region and that is Cincy vs. Harvard. Harvard has 5 starters that score double figures and Cincy really struggles scoring the basketball outside of Sean Kilpatrick. I look for Tommy Amaker’s team to really exploit this matchup and pull off a big upset in the East Region. This bracket has so many intriguing dynamics. Michigan State, maybe one of the better teams in the entire country when at full strength is the 4 seed, an Iowa State team that has 3 huge scorers, big guards that can slash and shoot and a Villanova team that has 5 wins against the tournament field and a really balanced attack on offense. Not to mention the Bryce Cotton vs. Marcus Paige matchup which seems like it should be a doozy and a hot Saint Joes team who just ran the table in the A-10 Tourney to face UCONN and what seems like the 9th year senior Shabazz Napier. I have Michigan St, UNC, Villanova and Iowa State all advancing into the round of 32. This is where the fun begins. Michigan State is going to be to much for Harvard to handle and I see them winning that matchup. Iowa State is one of my favorites in this tourney and I have them advancing in a well fought game vs. UNC in the round of 32. Meanwhile, I have St. Joes and Langston Galloway who can score the rock taking down UCONN to face Villanova to get to the Sweet 16. Michigan State is hot, but so is Virginia. Both coming off conference tournament wins, both with a real good shot to make the final 4, but I think the one thing Tony Bennett’s team really lacks is a go-to scorer in crunch time. Michigan State wins this game to get to the Elite 8 to face off against my winner of the 2 vs. 3 game, Iowa State. This may one of the best if not the best matchup, prior to the final 4 in the whole tournament. I think, in the end, Iowa State represents the East region in the Final 4. The way they can score, slash, shoot the basketball, Melvin Ejim and the bunch will be too much for Michigan State to handle.
- Sleeper: Harvard
- Final 4 Representative: Iowa State
With Arizona as the 1 seed in this conference, a real threat looms in a possible 3rd round meeting with Oklahoma State, and Marcus Smart. I’m really not sold on Wisconsin, even though this is Bo Ryan’s most prominent offensive team he’s probably taken to the tournament, maybe ever. I think we see our 2nd number 2 seed go down in this region, in the 2nd round, to Oregon, who’s won 8 out 9 games, including wins against UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State who are all in the field of 68. I really like this Creighton team and what Doug McDermott does for them is incredible. I have Creighton, on the bottom half of this region, meeting up for a showdown vs. Oregon with a chance at the Elite 8. Meanwhile the top half, the biggest upset so far would be Oklahoma State beating Arizona in the round of 32. Losing Brandon Ashley is a really, really big deal for Arizona. Getting Marcus Smart back from suspension has been an even bigger deal for Oklahoma State. The key in this game though, will be Le’Bryan Nash creating out of the post for his teammates. In my collision course to the final 4, I finally have a Oklahoma State vs. Creighton matchup. Oklahoma State was a top 5 team early on in the season and I look for them to be in tip-top shape come tournament time and make a run into the Final 4. Doug McDermott’s illustrious college career will come to an end a game before the Final 4.
- Sleeper(s): Oregon & Oklahoma State
- Final 4 Representative: Oklahoma State
The Bracket of death and the 4th and final 1 seed here is the lone undefeated team in Division 1 mens basketball, the Shockers of Wichita State. 3 out of 4 of last years final 4 teams are in this bracket; Aforementioned Wichita State, Louisville & Michigan and than there is Duke, who was right up until the loss to Virginia being considered for a 1 seed. Don’t forget everybody’s preseason number 1 overall, Kentucky is an 8 seed in this bracket. And I couldn’t dare talk about this region and not mention that 3 of the best coaches in the Nation in Coach K, Richard Pitino and John Calipari are all coaching teams in this region. Wichita State’s team this year, is superior than there Final 4 team of a year ago, and I think that helps them past Kentucky in the round of 32. Same with the 2-seeded Michigan Wolverines, and 3-seeded Duke if they can avoid playing Tennessee who is a big physical threat to any time, especially an undersized Duke team. Never the less, I think Duke vs. Michigan and Louisville vs. Wichita State in the Sweet 16 will be the 2 matchups and boy do I think they’ll be good ones. Duke has already beaten Michigan this season but it was early in the season. Regardless, I think Jabari, Rodney and the boys will prevail and each have huge games with timely shooting from veterans Quinn Cook and Tyler Thornton. Scorers can literally carry teams in the tournaments with big games. That’s what I think Louisville’s Rus Smith will do versus Wichita State to get to a Pitino / Coach K square off in the Elite 8. Ultimately, the Jabari Parker stardom will rise to the occasion and lift the Blue Devils to the final 4.
- Sleeper: Tennessee
- Final 4 Representative: Duke
- Florida > Iowa State
- Duke > Oklahoma State
- Florida > Duke
Tournament MOP: Scottie Wilbekin
Game MOP: Patric Young