The best time in the sports year is upon us. It’s March which means not only is the NBA and NHL ramping up getting ready for the playoffs, but the great yearly tradition of filling out a bracket (or 20) for the NCAA tournament is here.
The most important thing to remember is, honestly, March is chaotic. A “Survive and Advance” format gives way to unimaginable upsets, and crazy basketball games. Just last year, the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) Retrievers became the first 16 seed to ever beat a one seed. Although I’d say don’t pick something like that to happen again this year.
This made the one-seed’s all-time record against 16’s a record of 135-1. If we dive even deeper to highlight every
A common trend has always been the 5-12 matchup, with a 12 seed upsetting their counterparts. However that seems to have gone by the wayside currently, (at least since 2015) as five seeds have gone 13-3 in the first round.
With a little statistical background, I’m going to provide my own picks, based on Final Four locks and sleeper teams in the tournament.
Out of the East, (probably the easiest section of the bracket to pick) I have Duke representing the region in the Final Four. They’re the best team in the tournament and have their own Holy Trinity of Cam Reddish, Rj Barrett and the most likely number one overall pick Zion Williamson. Also having one of the best coaches of all time on your sideline never hurts.
In the South, I have a familiar face in what’s a bit of a different role for them. I picked Villanova to come out of this region and play Kentucky in the Final Four. While they’re a six-seed, the Wildcats are dangerous and a team that can make some serious noise in this tournament. Jay Wright is one of the better coaches in the country and has the championship pedigree to get his team deep.
For the Midwest, I have Kentucky going into the Final Four. (Big Blue is also my national championship winner). The Wildcats are loaded with legitimate talent and one of the more fun teams in the country. John Calipari is still a terrific talent roaming the sidelines. P.J. Washington is a strong bruising forward, Tyler Herro is a walking bucket and Keldon Johnson is a talented combo guard.
My last final four pick was also the toughest. The West in this year’s tournament is absolutely chaotic and probably the most wide open region. Ultimately, I decided to roll with the Red Raiders of Texas Tech to get out of this region and play in the Final Four. Jarrett Culver is the leader of this time and was one of the better players in the country this year. Texas Tech has a solid defense and will be a ridiculously tough out.
Sleepers and cinderellas are always the most fun part of this tournament. Miracle Sweet 16 or Elite Eight, even sometimes Final Four runs by upstart mid-major programs is always must watch television. A few teams I have my eye on this year for upsets are the Northeastern Huskies, Murray State Racers and St. John’s Red Storm.
Northeastern has a first round matchup with the Kansas Jayhawks, and while Kansas is still Kansas and a good team, they are in a down year as a four seed. The Huskies are a team that can really shoot the ball and have a ton of offensive rhythm.
Murray State and Marquette as a first round 5/12 matchup is appointment television. Ja Morant vs. Markus Howard is sure to not disappoint, Morant is a prospective top five NBA pick and the talent will win out to give the Racers a win.
St. John’s is the most interesting team in this tournament. A team that oozes versatility and talent across this roster is subject to play in a first four game in Dayton. I have the Johnnies with an upset over Buffalo, as the uptempo pace the Bulls play at will play right into St. John’s style. Shamorie Ponds was one of the best players in the Big East this year and should make an imprint in his first ever tournament.
With a familiar cast of favorites and a new set of cinderella’s looking to make their own history in the NCAA tournament, March is sure to excite as it never fails to do in the College Basketball world.