Winner: Villanova - Duke will be the trendy pick after winning the ACC title. Let's not forget they were losing in the second half of their last three games in Brooklyn. It took Roy Williams stupidly benching Joel Berry for too long to let Duke pull away in that game. They also benefitted playing an offensively challenged Louisville team. All that said, these two teams will match up at the Garden in the regional final.
Upsets: Everyone is picking SMU over Baylor in the round of 32. That should scare you. I'd love to pick UNC-Wilmington over Virginia but that's a bad matchup for UNCW. Have little doubt ETSU can beat Florida. 10/7 & 9/8 aren't upsets.
Winner: Gonzaga- I jumped on the Zags bandwagon well before it was cool. Arizona is a popular pick but remember they're 20th in offensive efficiency and 31st in defensive efficiency. They're also overseeded. They just have an easy path to the regional final.
Upsets: Bucknell can beat West Virginia and Princeton can beat Notre Dame. FGCU has been a trendy pick over FSU. Game is in Orlando so it should be intense. Xavier over Maryland is one that I have because I think X's guards can harass Melo Trimble enough.
Bracket Gripe: VCU plays St. Mary's. Funny how that happened.
Winner: Kansas - I dubbed this the chaos region on Sunday and stand by that. All top 4 seeds have issues. Kansas has found itself trailing too often this season. Louisville was a defensive juggernaught through January but has fallen off considerably and the offense is capable of being awful. Oregon is missing Chris Boucher. Purdue has the twin towers inside but do you trust this team? Kansas by default.
Upsets: They can happen everywhere here. The Michigan/OkState winner can beat Louisville. Vermont can take Purdue. Nevada can take Iowa State. Creighton-Rhode Island winner can make the Sweet 16.
Warning: Michigan became a media darling after last week's plane accident and run through the Big 14. I'm a John Beilein apologist but these runs don't mean much to me. Marquette in '97 won 4 games in Conference USA and was a 7 against Providence and got run out the gym. Similar thing happened to Syracuse in 2005. The counterpoint is UConn in 2011 and that was 5 games.
This game is one of the most fascinating of the opening round. Both are top 10 offenses with iffy defenses. Michigan is 69th in defense and OK State is 131st. That's a big advantage to Michigan. Michigan's d was in the 150's at one point so they have improved greatly. It's basically a pick'em.
Winner: Kentucky - Carolina and Kentucky are 3 and 4 in KenPom. If they meet, it'll basically be a pick 'em. It's a Final 4 game. I'm taking Kentucky because Cal won't do anything as dumb as Roy might. UCLA still doesn't play defense. They might LMU themselves deep but can they win on a night where shots aren't falling? No, they can't.
Upsets: Wichita State can totally beat Kentucky but won't. Middle Tennessee will beat Minnesota. What's the percentage of people picking the Blue Raiders? I bet it's north of 70%. Winthrop can also take out Butler. Butler is weird. Good enough to beat anyone but capable of losing head scratchers. Cincinnati would be a matchup problem for UCLA.
Bracket Gripe: The Wichita State thing really bothers me. First, the committee talking about using metrics other than RPI are a blatant lie. Secondly, they matched them up against Dayton. The four at-large mid-majors meet in the opening round. The system is rigged. Thirdly, even with talk of Wichita State joining the American, this should push Gregg Marshall out the door to a bigger job. He does have a full roster returning next year so that'll make the decision hard but it's obvious as long as he's in the Valley, he'll have to be damn near perfect to get a fair shake.
Wisconsin over Virginia Tech- The Hokies are okay but about 20 spots behind the Badgers. This is more a 6-11 matchup. Would be a pretty big upset for VaTech to win. They won't get past Villanova. They can win that game but Nova plays as slow so pace won't bother them. 3-pt. defense is considered a matter of luck and maybe a good chunk of it is but teams shoot nearly 38% against Bucky. That's right at Nova's number and Nova defends the 3 quite well.
Marquette over South Carolina- There's been a lot of hand-wringing by some Marquette fans about this game. I get it. It's a de facto road game. Marquette is bad on defense but South Carolina is awful on offense. It'll come down to whether Marquette makes 3's. The Cocks defend the arc quite well. They haven't seen a team like Marquette, though. One other note, Marquette can't stop the pick and roll. SC is bad at running that. Feel weirdly confident about this one so that's probably bad for the Warriors.
They have a chance against Duke if Duke gets food poisoning