If you're looking for some last minute tips on your bracket or need extra validation for some picks, here's my guide to this year's bracket.
The committee gets a grade of C+ for how it set the field this year. Hopefully UNC Asheville AD Janet Cone can bring some better decision-making to the “panic room” next season.
- Michigan State and Louisville as 4 seeds? Top seeds Virginia (East) and Wichita State (Midwest) got screwed by having to possibly face these two potential Final Four teams in the Sweet 16. The mis-seeding of these teams make for a lot of mis-seeding at the top.
- North Carolina as a 6 seed is a fail. The Heels are better than at least three of the four 5 seeds and have beaten the two aforementioned four seeds.
By the matchups:
1 vs 16: No 16 seed will challenge the number 1 seeds this tournament.
2 vs 15: No 15 seeds make the big upset this year either.
3 vs 14: The 3 seeds will probably go 4-0 in the second round, but look for Mercer to give Duke a test and for NC Central to take Iowa State to the wire.
4 vs 13: Two of the four seeds are likely headed for the final four, but the other two could very well fall early. UCLA is on a roll after winning the Pac-12 tournament but they face Tulsa in their first game. Tulsa is coached by former Kansas and NBA star Danny Manning and has played tough games with Creighton and Oklahoma. San Diego State is the other 4 seed and are in a bit of a scoring slump coming into the tournament. They face New Mexico State, who have a good defense led by a 7'5'' monster.
5 vs 12: The 5/12 matchups are a honey hole for upsets. Only 3 times in the past 29 years have 5 seeds won all 4 meetings with 12 seeds. I can see any of the 12 seeds beating fives, but don't pick them all. Harvard is the favorite upset pick over Cincinnati, North Dakota State over Oklahoma is probably the second favorite 12 over 5 pick, followed by NC State over St. Louis and then Stephen F. Austin over VCU.
6 VS 11: I'm advancing 6 seeds Baylor and Ohio State without hesitation. North Carolina's poor seeding gives them a bigger challenge against Big East tournament champion Providence. It will be another nail-biter for the Heels. UMass will likely lose to either Iowa or Tennessee.
7 vs 10: I'm typically a 10 over 7 guy, but not so much this year. I'm taking UConn to the Sweet 16 and New Mexico and Oregon pick up wins. A slumping Arizona State team over a struggling Texas team in a toss-up. Neither will go further than the next round against Michigan.
8 vs 9: I'm taking three 9 seeds over their 8th seeded opponents. The only 8 seed that can make a run in Kentucky. They face an untested Wichita State team if they get to the 3rd round.
Teams to ride or scratch:
You'll kick yourself if you take all of the #1 seeds to the Final Four. Florida and Arizona are the best and are among the most likely Final Four teams. Virgina and Wichita State will make early exits. The Shockers could go down to Kentucky in round 3 and I doubt they could beat Louisville in the Sweet 16. If Virginia can get past Michigan State, they'll be in the Final Four.
Ride Michigan State and Louisville. Both are hot right now. Louisville is explosive on both ends of the floor and Sparty is healthy and just dominated the Big Ten tournament.
Tar Heels, Duke fans... DO NOT pick with your heart. This Tar Heels team is not going far. IF they get past Providence, Iowa State is next. Duke will go deep, but a Final Four or championship appearance are unlikely. Duke could struggle with Michigan in the Sweet 16, probably loses vs Louisville in the Elite Eight or to Arizona if they make it to the Final Four.
My Cinderella pick for a deep(ish) run in New Mexico State. The rising star discovered in the tournament could be Sim Bhullar. The 7'5'', 355 lb center is a beast in the middle for a very good defensive club. He also introduced me to a new nationality... Indo-Canadian.