Written by: Joe Ryan
Ohhhhhh Babaaaaaayyyyyy !!!!
Can you just smell the air? It smells like drama, upsets, heart break, excitement and joy. It smells like the unknown.
That must mean its March.
March Madness is officially upon us and let’s just dive right into it. Round of 64 Predictions.
(1) Virginia over (16) UMBC
UMBC had a great run and a great story by making a game-winning three to defeat Vermont on the last second. Their season has been an awesome success, but lets be real, Virginia is not losing this game. It’ll be close for about 10 minutes and than that is it. UMBC will not be able to score on Virginia. The Cavaliers have been the best and most consistent team all year.
(8) Creighton over (9) Kansas State
This game will all depend on if Dean Wade and Barry Brown are healthy for Kansas State. If they are, they can definitely win but, I never like picking a team that is limping into March.
(5) Kentucky over (12) Davidson
Davidson has been RED HOT. The Wildcats came through in the A10 tournament, winning the whole thing, and stealing a bid away from a team like Notre Dame or USC. Now, for the other Wildcat team Kentucky, this is a tough match-up for them. You can make the argument that Kentucky might a little under seeded, but nevertheless, they get a tough draw. Davidson runs a lot of cuts and screens and every player can shoot it from 3. Obviously, Kentucky has a lot more talent and I think that will be the difference in this one. Peyton Aldridge and Kellen Grady can be NBA players one day. This game is going to be super close, and I would not be shocked if Davidson wins, but I just don’t see how Davidson is going to guard Kevin Knox. He takes over in this one.
(4) Arizona over (13) Buffalo
Arizona has also been red hot so far. A lot of people are picking them to go to the Final Four, and I would not be shocked if they did. No one in College Basketball can match-up with DeAndre Ayton, and Buffalo definitely can not.
(11) Loyola-Chicago over (6) Miami
I like this Loyola-Chicago team. Earlier this year they went into Florida and won. They’re a veteran, talented team who is not afraid of the situation. Even though Miami is a good basketball team, they’re not plying their best ball right now. Give me Loyola-Chicago in the upset.
(3) Tennessee over (14) Wright State
I love this Tennessee team. They were picked preseason 12 in the SEC and they’ve ovecrome all odds. Rick Barnes is a Hall of Fame type coach. I like Tennessee in this one an possibly a Final Four run.
(7) Nevada over (10) Texas
This is a real tough match-up to pick. This game can really go in any different way. The difference in this one I think is the Martin twins for Nevada. They can score against anyone and really score in the interior. Mo Bamba will be effective in this one, but again, he is also still dealing with a toe injury. The reason why I don’t like this Texas team is that they have difficulties scoring the basketball. That doesn’t boat very well in the tournament.
(2) Cincinnati over (15) Georgia State
Cincinnati has one of the best defenses in the country. They don’t let teams score against them. They won’t lose this game.
Even though I don’t have a ton of upsets here, this is the bracket that I can see where a lot of upsets happen. The lower seeds and underdogs have a lot of favorable match-ups, so I would not be shocked in the slightest if there are some MAJOR upsets in this bracket.
(1) Xavier over (16) Texas Southern
The 1 seed upset will not happen here. Xavier has been one of the most consistent teams all year.
(8) Missouri over (9) Florida State
Even though Michael Porter Jr came back in the SEC tournament and the tigers lost the game with him in the lineup, I like this game for Missouri. MPJ was rusty and that’s fine, but he is still one of the best talents in the world. Missouri has a talented team and played well all year. MPJ and his brother combine for 40 points in a Missouri win over an over seeded FSU team.
(5) Ohio State over (12) South Dakota State
Ohio State has one of the best players in the country, Keita Bates-Diop. I think he goes off in this game, but the game will be closer than expected.
(13) UNC Greensboro over (4) Gonzaga
Here is my upset pick. I really like this UNC Greensboro team as they play great defense and have a good enough offense to get the job done. They only lost by 12 @ Virginia and won against NC State. Give me UNC Greensboro over Gonzaga.
(11) San Diego State over (6) Houston
Really tough pick here and the game can go either way. Just going with my gut here. The Aztecs are hot. This game will be decided by five points or less.
(3) Michigan over (14) Montana
Michigan is a sneaky team to win the tournament. I can also see Michigan losing this game. A long week off could affect the Wolverines in a negative way as they can get rusty. Montana averages 78 PPG and allows 68 PPG. They crash the glass and play with high energy. That can lead to an upset, but I still think Michigan has enough to get the job done.
(7) Texas A&M over (10) Providence
I’m going with the Aggies here. They have a lot of talent and didn’t live up to expectations this year. DJ Hogg and Robert Williams can erase that with a good March.
(2) North Carolina over (15) Lipscomb
Lipscomb is good, but North Caroljna is 11-1 in their last 12 NCAA tournament games with a lot of core guys still. They can make another deep run.
(1) Villanova over (16) Long Island-Brooklyn
Villanova will not be the first 1 to lose to a 16.
(9) Alabama over (8) Virginia Tech
Colin Sexton is the reason I’m going Roll Tide here. When you have a top-10 pick on your team, you beat anyone, and Sexton is playing his best basketball right now. They get by this game, which will be close, they can give Nova a ride for their money.
(5) West Virginia over (12) Murray State
Press Virginia !!!!! The seniors and veterans on this team, especially Jevon Carter, want to make one last impact for the Mountaineers faithful. A sneaky Final Four team.
(4) Wichita State over (13) Marshall
I wanted to go Marshall here, but Gregg Marshall is one helluva March coach. Even though the Shockers have had some of their ups and downs this year, Gregg Marshall will get his team ready.
(11) St. Bonaventure/UCLA over (6) Florida vs
Either way here, whoever wins the St. Bonaventure/UCLA game will defeat Florida. I think both teams are very solid.
(3) Texas Tech over (14) SF Austin
Keenan Evans and the Z. Smith’s are bound to make a deep run. I have the Red Raiders in the Elite 8, so they get by the SF Austin here.
(10) Butler over (7) Arkansas
Does anyone bet against Butler in March? I sure as hell don’t. Arkansas has been up and down all year and Butler has beaten some quality basketball teams. I like the Bulldogs.
(2) Purdue over (15) CSFullerton
Purdue is going to dominate this game.
(1) Kansas vs. (16) Penn
You see how I wrote “vs” instead of over? As a Kansas fan, I REFUSE to predict this game. I think Penn is very good and has a chance to actually win the game. They defend the 3 point very well and can take away the best part of Kansas’ game. History can happen. But, I’m not taking chances and jinxing it.
(8) Seton Hall over (9) NC State
I think the difference maker in this game is Angel Delgado. He poses a match-up problem against the Wolfpack. This game will be close though, especially if NC State is hitting their threes.
(5) Clemson over (12) New Mexico State
It seems that everyone is picking NMSU here because of that 5 v 12 upset. I think an upset is definitely possible here, but I like this Clemson team. NMSU is a solid team who beat Miami early this year and came close to beating USC. A lot of people are even going as far as saying NMSU can reach the Sweet 16, I just don’t see it. I do think an upset will happen in this region.
(13) Charleston over (4) Auburn
And here it is. The upset that not a lot of people are picking, but definitely could happen. Listen, it was a terrible, gruesome injusry, but it just seems like Auburn is not the same team without Mclemore. He was their glue guy, their junk yard dog, the guy who did everything for them. it just seems like the energy and passion is not at the level it once was. Auburn is an incredible story this year but I just like this Charleston team. They can score the ball with ease, due to three of their players scoring 17+. If they get hot, Auburn might have a short trip this March.
(11) Arizona State over (6) TCU
Both teams are not playing great basketball going into March. Arizona State started the season incredibly hot and were even ranked #2 in the country at one point. And then they fell back to Earth, finishing 9th in the PAC-12. TCU also had a successful season, but fell short of their lofty goals. Some people had TCU has a team to upend Kansas streak of 14 titles. A rough start to the Big 12 season ended those dreams, and then the injury to Jaylen Fisher put a big dent into the Horn Frogs season. But, nevertheless a good season. The difference in this one, since both teams are almost limping into March, will be the play-in game the Sun Devils have to play. I see them defeating Syracuse and then carrying the momentum into the TCU game.
(3) Michigan State over (14) Bucknell
Michigan State is not losing this game. They are way to talented and way to big for Bucknell. They’ll over match them.
(7) Rhode Island over (10) Oklahoma
Trae Young is struggling, Oklahoma has won seven games since January 1st and they have no reason to be in that tournament. Don’t get me wrong, Rhode Island isn’t playing their best basketball right now but E.C. Mathews and Jared Terrell are too good to lose this game.
(2) Duke over (15) Iona
*see the Michigan State write up*