March Madness is here and I have already filled out several brackets but I wanted to preview the tournament and make some picks before the games get started tomorrow. I always mess up on the First Four but I've made my picks in the last post. As a quick reminder, I chose FGCU over FDU in the first game and Wichita State over Vanderbilt in the second game tomorrow. The next day I chose Southern over Holy Cross and Michigan over Tulsa.
I'll just go through each division of the bracket to the Final Four then make some definite picks. I'll be second guessing myself the whole time, which is just me analyzing what is going to happen. There is no way I'll get this right but it if so fun to pick winners.
The number one team is 1)UNC and I am definitely going with them over 16)FGCU. I'm also going with 2) Xavier over 15) Weber State. 3) West Virginia made it all the way to the Big 12 championship and that is the strongest conference this year so there is would be a crazy if 14) SF Austin won. I'm definitely going with 4) Kentucky beating 13) Stony Brook too. I want to see Kentucky triumph over a challenge so I want them to face 5) Indiana who will have to beat 12) Chattanooga first. 8) USC has been my pick over 9) Providence so far. That just leaves 6) Notre Dame and 7) Wisconsin over 11) Michigan and 10) Pittsburgh respectively. Pitt might get a win but I'm going with the former runner-up. That's the first round which leads to a 1)UNC versus 8)USC and I'm taking the top ranked North Carolina Tarheels. I'm also going with 4) Kentucky Wildcat against 5) Indiana. The ACC matchup against a Big 12 team will be on of the more exciting second round games if my prediction comes true. I'm taking the Big 12 this season with 3) West Virginia over 6) Notre Dame. My first upset in this bracket will be 7) Wisconsin beating 2) Xavier. The decision is even harder here but the smart money is on a 3) West Virginia victory over 7) Wisconsin if I've been correct here so far. I'm letting my fan bias take 4) Kentucky over 1) UNC since all the broadcasters are talking down the strength of the Tar Heels this season. I'll have to put my fan side aside and pick 3) West Virginia over 4) Kentucky in this bracket to be my Final Four pick in the East. I hope I'm wrong but that's what I'll go with for this blog. Of course, I have several fantasy brackets where Kentucky goes all the way.
In the top left bracket, I'm picking 1) Kansas to beat 16) Austin Peay and then win against 9) UConn after Connecticut beats 8) Colorado. My upset in the five to twelve bracket is 12) SDSU over 5) Maryland but I think 4) California will win against 13) Hawaii. I'm also going to go with another upset in 11) Wichita State using the momentum of an early win against Vanderbilt to beat 6) Arizona. I think 3) Miami will go far beating 14) Buffalo and 11) Wichita State to get into the sweet sixteen. 7) Iowa will beat 10) Temple in my bracket and then eliminate a struggling 2) Villanova after Nova beats 15) UNC Asheville. If 4) California beats 12) SDSU they will be stopped going up against 1) Kansas. The 3) Miami versus 7) Iowa game would be interesting but the ACC wins here to play the top ranked team in the South. 1) Kansas versus 3) Miami is my elite eight pick and 1) Kansas goes to the Final Four.
For the chance to play Kansas in the final four the West division has a PAC-12 conference team at the top with 1)Oregon beating 16) Southern if I even get that First Four pick right. I've been choosing 9)Cincy over 8)St. Joe's just because Cincinnati is a big city near me, not because I know much about these teams. Cincy did play UConn in their conference championship. 5)Baylor versus 12)Yale is another upset but I'm not taking it sticking to the Big 12 strength with the Bears going to the second round. I'm also going with name recognition with the former champions 4)Duke over 13) UNC Wilmington. I'm looking forward to a Lone Star State matchup so 6) Texas beats 11) Northern Iowa and 3) Texas A&M beats 14) Green Bay. By SEC bias wins out here with 3)TAMU taking down 6)Texas. 10)VCU upsets 7)Oregon State but falls to 2)Oklahoma after the Sooner beat 15)Col St. Bakersfield. 5) Baylor versus 4)Duke is a tough pick but I'm going with the Blue Devils. I'm also taking 1)Oregon Ducks against 9)Cincinnati. That leaves a matchup of 1)Oregon against 4)Duke so I'll choose ranking because I don't think Duke would go this far again. In the 2)Oklahoma vs. 3)TAMU, I'm taking the number two team for a top two matchup in the West. I think 2)Oklahoma Sooners will win this division to go to the Final Four. That makes three teams from the Big 12 as predicted by some experts but I'm certainly not expert and most likely wrong.
Another tough bracket to decide, I'm taking 1)UVA against 16)Hampton. The nine eight matchup has always been hard to decide but I'll take the small upset of 9)Butler over 8)Texas Tech. I'm going with 5)Purdue over 12)Little Rock and 4)Iowa State over 13)Iona. I think 11)Gonzaga over 6)Seton Hall and 3)Utah beats 14)Fresno State. 7)Dayton beats 10)Syracuse and 2)Michigan State wins over 15)Middle Tennessee. Back at the top a 1)UVA versus 9)Butler battle would be cool and Virginia triumphs. I think 5)Purdue will beat 4)Iowa State. I'm going out on a limb with 11)Gonzaga over 3)Utah. I also think 2)Michigan State will win against 7)Dayton. The sweet sixteen matchup in the top is 1)UVA versus 5)Purdue. I think Virginia will go past this battle but lose afterwards once 2)Michigan State beats 11)Gonzaga and faces Virginia to go to the Final Four. I pick the number two Michigan State Spartans as my fourth Final Four pick.
So my Final Four for this bracket are Kansas from the South, West Virginia from the East, Oklahoma from the West, and Michigan State from the Midwest. A number one, two number twos, and a number three.
My picks are for Michigan State to beat West Virginia and Kansas to beat Oklahoma. The Spartans will face the Jayhawks and Kansas will be the new National Champions. I could be totally wrong but I really enjoy the process of predicting and seeing how it works out!