March Madness is upon us. The one time of year where sport gambling is encouraged by everyone. Whether your in an office pool, picking against family and friends, or are participating in some high roller stakes, everyone who is everyone will fill out a bracket.
Is there any logic to it? Probably not.
Most will pick based on team colors, mascots or what stats and analytics may say. Either way you do it, there’s no shame in any prediction as the NCAA Tournament provides wildly unpredictable outcomes.
Take Middle Tennessee State for example last season. No one picked them as 15 seed to beat a consensus final four favorite in Michigan State. Michigan State was picked in more final fours than any team in the country last season only to be taken out in the first round.
Fast forward a here and Middle Tennessee State just cruised dominated Conference USA en route to a 30-4 overall record and have now become the trendy pick to upset Minnesota in a 5-12 match-up.
Fair and warranted? Yes.
Likely to happen? Who really knows.
Below is a look at this years field: We’ll first begin by breaking down the East Region
The favorites: Villanova and Duke
Villanova is last years National Champion and followed it up this year with a dominating regular season that led to them taking the Number 1 overall seed into the tournament. The team returns three starters and have the big game experience needed in March. Jay Wright will have his team prepared.
Duke may be finally living up to their preseason number 1 ranking after winning four games in four days to win the ACC Tournament. The first ACC team to accomplish this feat. Led by talented guards Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen with potential top 5 pick in Jayson Tatum, the team is clicking at the right time. People say go with the team playing their best basketball in March and that may be Duke at the moment.
SMU may feel under seeded as a 6 in this region. They just completed a 29-4 season and have ran off 14 consecutive wins while wrapping up the regular season and conference tournament title for the American Athletic Conference. SMU plays position less basketball, a similar style to Duke who they may see in Sweet 16. Former Duke forward, Semi Ojeleye, leads an offense that scores nearly 75 points a game and shoots 40% from 3. They rebound and pass the ball well which should make them a difficult out.
First round match – up to see: Virginia – UNC Wilmington
This game presents an opportunity to watch two teams with drastic different styles. Virginia plays a slow pace, grinding you out on the offensive end and playing tough defense. They aim to force you into difficult shots and creating turnovers.
UNC Wilmington plays at an up tempo pace scoring nearly 86 points a game. They want to run and run often. The Seahawks play 6 guys who average more than 7.8 points per game. They only commit about 10 turnovers a game and do not foul on defense. If they are able to speed up the pace on Virginia, they may have a chance to pull the upset.
Sweet 16: (1) Villanova vs. (4) Virginia – (2) Duke vs (6) SMU
Elite 8: (1) Villanova vs. (Duke)
Regional Champ: (1) Villanova – They seemed destined to make a run back to the Final Four. They match – up well with Duke and Villanova has been playing more consistent basketball than Duke for the better part of the year. Expect a tight close game, but Villanova will be able to contain Duke’s offense and advance to their second consecutive Final Four.
Follow me on Twitter @mikey_ryan11 for more information. Check back later as we’ll preview the West Region next.