Today is the big day! The start of March Madness! Sing it with me: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” We all fill out our NCAA Brackets in hopes to win some office pool money, or just having bragging rights around the water cooler. In the past few years, I have opted-out of competing against people and instead opted-in on actually watching as many regular season games as possible and formulating educated picks on who will advance come Tourney time. What I’ve learned is, chalk almost always wins. That’s not to say upsets don’t happen, but it is to say that for the most part chalk always prevails.
Here is my breakdown of every Region, as well as my picks for the Final Four. If you are betting money and win based on my picks, you will indeed win. Therefore, please send your kickbacks to:
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MIDWEST REGION WINNER
Top Dog: #1 Seed Kentucky. Can anybody beat them? My answer is yes. The problem is, the only team capable of beating Kentucky, is Kentucky itself. If they have an off night, or if the game is tight and they make mental mistakes late, I believe somebody could be the beneficiary of that game.
Other Big Dogs: #2 Seed Kansas, the Jayhawks looked awful earlier in the season and started rounding into shape as the season went on. A traditional power like Kansas has no fear of Kentucky, but fearlessness doesn’t necessarily equal talent. Nobody in this Region is a Giant Killer including the Jayhawks. The #4 seeded Terps can only hope to reach the game against Big Blue but must first get past a tough Valpo team and then more than likely a match up with Bob Huggins and the gritty Mountaineers. I’m predicting the Terps win both of those games, and then plays it close against Kentucky. However, in the end I can’t pick with my heart on this one.
Only hope of knocking off Kentucky in this region is: Kentucky beating themselves.
Winner: I do believe they can fall, but not in this region. Kentucky in the Final Four again.
EAST REGION WINNER
Top Dog: #1 Seed Villanova. The trendy pick of the moment, but my first reaction to them being announced as a #1 seed was, they are the weakest #1 seed in the Tourney.
Other Big Dogs: #2 UVA, #4 Louisville, and #7 Michigan State.
Mission Impossible Region: Nobody in there right mind can possibly predict this region. Virginia is a one dimensional defensive team; Louisville has experience but is limited offensively. Tom Izzo may be doing his best coaching job of his career with this team because they aren’t very good, and #3 seed Oklahoma is overrated.
Winner: My gut tells me Izzo but I just don’t think the Spartans are good enough to X and O’s their way through this region. Somebody must step up and ball for them, and I don’t see it. I’m going Louisville here, simply because I think they are a better version of a similarly boring, defensive-minded UVA team. However I do believe that defense will be the key in beating that high scoring, yet overrated Villanova team, therefore Louisville advances to the Final Four.
WEST REGION WINNER
Top Dog: #1 Seed Wisconsin
Other Big Dogs: #2 Arizona #3 Baylor and #4 UNC. All capable of beating Wisconsin due to athleticism, Coaching, and Tourney experience.
Toughest Region in The Tournament: Stacked top to bottom. I believe either of the teams I just listed could win this whole Tourney. Even when you start looking for Cinderella, look at VCU, Oregon, Oklahoma State, Arkansas and Xavier. Any of those teams get hot, watch out.
Winner: Tough to say but I’m going to give Arizona the edge. Super athletic teams give Wisconsin problems, remember the Terps game? Arizona is long, athletic and a complete team. Arizona in the Final Four.
SOUTH REGION WINNER
Top Dog: #1 Seed Duke.
Other Big Dogs: #2 Gonzaga, #3 Iowa State, #6 SMU.
Conspiracy Theory: The NCAA is protecting two powerhouse programs that continuously get bounced from the Tourney in upset city fashion. Both Duke and Gonzaga are surrounded with weaker competition and are probably destined to play each other for a trip to the Final Four. So here’s to you Duke and Gonzaga, I hope one of these lower seeded teams still figure out a way to knock you both off!
Winner: Anybody but Duke! I guess by default, I will take Gonzaga to advance to the Final Four. I don’t trust them however, and would love to see a Cinderella emerge from this region.