NCAA Tournament Bracket Rundown

Joshua Clarke

March Madness is in full swing, and it is now time to breakdown the bracket in 100 different ways to pretend like you will have a perfect one in 3 weeks, only to watch your Final Four sleeper get bounced by some team that looked like they couldn’t find a basketball hoop 3 weeks ago.

East:

Duke is the top dog here, and everywhere else in the bracket for that matter. I think the Blue Devils are the clear favorite to cut down the nets at the end of this all.

Obviously, Michigan State is a formidable opponent for anyone in the country, as they knocked off another 2 seed in Michigan for the third time this season just hours before the bracket was released. I think Michigan State is a team that is vulnerable early because they don’t have the overpowering forces that some top teams have, but I expect to see them eventually face off with the Blue Devils.

LSU is in turmoil with the coaching scandal ongoing. I think they are ripe for the picking, which has me very interested in the winner of the play-in game getting all the way to Michigan State in the Sweet Sixteen.

Virginia Tech is the only other team that I think can compete with Duke here. They beat the Blue Devils without Zion, and they are getting their best player back. This is a good shooting team that could get hot and make an unexpected run.

South:

This section is all over the place. Virginia is a dominant basketball team that really struggles in March due to their pace. Virginia ranks 353 out of 353 in possessions per game, and they are almost 2 lower than 351st in this statistic. I think they are the best team in this draw, but they are very vulnerable to any team that can force a pace or hit some tough shots.

I am lower on Tennessee than most simply because I think they got hot to start the season and have been ranked too highly ever since. The entire SEC is likely a little overrated in terms of seeding, but I think this draw is really nice for them.

In the upper half, I want to fade the Oregon train as “getting hot” to win a terrible conference is overrated in the public eye but I am all about UC-Irvine playing K-State without Dean Wade in San Diego.

I like Purdue to win this draw due to Carsen Edwards and his ability to light teams up. He is a great scorer and very willing shooter, which is great in March.

Midwest:

UNC and Kentucky are clearly the most talented teams in the draw, but I really like some things in this bracket that don’t include them. Houston is the 5th best team in defensive efficiency, and they are really tough to handle. I think they can knock off Kentucky.

Where things get really interesting is in the second pod. Kansas has been in free fall and I think Northeastern is incredibly interesting. Northeastern is 299th in pace, and they shoot 38.8% from 3-point range. If they can slow down the Jayhawks and hit 3’s at that rate, they are VERY live.

Auburn had a nice SEC Tournament and is a great looking playoff team, but I think Northeastern could even beat Auburn. Auburn is a slower team, and they also rely on shooting often. I like both of these teams to be annoying to play throughout the tournament

West:

Gonzaga is the best team here, but I think the ‘Cuse zone could really give them problems in game 2.

Texas Tech, Michigan, and Nevada are all top 10 defensive teams in the country, and they are all capable of beating the Zags if they make it to the Elite Eight. I like the bottom to beat the top here, which will likely be a slight upset.

Until I hear good news about Markus Howard, I like Morant and Murray State to knock off the Golden Eagles. Both teams have explosive guard play, and I really like the winner of this matchup to make some noise down the line with potential matchups vs. Florida State and Gonzaga both very winnable for these teams.

Final Four:

I think we see Duke, Michigan, Purdue, and Houston prevail to make it to Minneapolis where we see Zion and company cut down the nets on Monday night.