Let’s take a look at some NCAA Tournament predictions that are sure to be 100%, totally correct. Today, we’ll cover the Midwest and West regions, tomorrow we’ll look at the East and South corners, and on Wednesday, we’ll go through the Final Four and the National Championship matchup.
Midwest Regional, Second Round:
16 Hampton/Manhattan over 1 Kentucky: Just kidding.
9 Purdue over 8 Cincinnati: I’ll go with the Boilermakers to ride A.J. Hammons in what should be an entertaining matchup between Purdue’s offense and the Bearcats’ swarming defense.
5 West Virginia over 12 Buffalo: Buffalo is a sexy upset pick, but as long as Juwan Staten is healthy, the Mountaneers’ press will force enough turnovers to eek out a close win.
4 Maryland over 13 Valpo: Dez Wells and Maryland’s ability to get to the free throw line should carry them through a nail biter, though I do think the Terrapins are among the tournament’s most overrated teams.
11 Texas over 6 Butler: It isn’t smart to bet on Rick Barnes, but…I’m going to bet on Rick Barnes. Texas’ athleticism and size is too much for a short-handed Bulldogs team to handle.
3 Notre Dame over 14 Northeastern: Jerian Grant is arguably the top point guard in America, and the three-point barrage from the Fighting Irish blow past Northeastern here.
10 Indiana over 7 Wichita State: Think about it this way – Indiana will be the third best team Wichita State has played all season after Utah and Northern Iowa.The Shockers get caught looking ahead to KU, and Yogi Ferrell and James Blackmon Jr. shoot the Hoosiers into the next round.
2 Kansas over 15 New Mexico State: The Aggies haven’t lost since January 17, but they struggle against stronger backcourts. KU can use this game to practice three-point shooting because New Mexico State doesn’t take hardly any. Don’t get too cute, though: give the ball to Perry Ellis.
1 Kentucky over 9 Purdue: Ho hum. Wildcats take another step towards perfection, and John Calipari says something during his halftime interview that makes America hate his guts even more.
5 West Virginia over 4 Maryland: All year long, we’ve had to hear about how difficult it’ll be to prepare for West Virginia’s press on a two-day turnaround. I’m going to drink the Kool Aid and pick the Mountaineers.
3 Notre Dame over 11 Texas: This could be a fun game to watch. One of the most well-coached teams against one of the worst. Jerian Grant vs. Isaiah Taylor. Texas’ talent keeps it close, but I’m not going against the Luck of the Irish.
2 Kansas over 10 Indiana: Indiana has been troubled all season by power forwards who burn them inside (Montrezl Harrell, Denzel Valentine, Frank Kaminsky, etc.). Perry Ellis throws in a double-double to lift Kansas to the Sweet 16.
1 Kentucky over 5 West Virginia: Considering how much West Virginia struggles to score, it legitimately might not score 30 points in this game. Willie Cauley Stein and Karl Anthony-Towns will do bad, bad things to a banged up WVU frontcourt.
2 Kansas over 3 Notre Dame: D’Angelo Russell and Jerian Grant will get the pub as best point guards to watch in this region, but Frank Mason is really flying under the radar in that department. If the Jayhawks are to beat Notre Dame, they must keep pace offensively by hitting threes. I think they do just that and win a high-scoring game, perhaps one of the best games all tournament.
1 Kentucky over 2 Kansas: Prediction: Kansas will not lose this game by 32 points like it did in November. However, they will lose this game, but it’ll be a nail biter all the way to the end. It’s just so hard to win a game when it’s next to impossible to score inside, and that’s why the Wildcats will advance to the Final Four at 38-0.
West Regional, Second Round:
1 Wisconsin over 16 Coastal Carolina: Frank the Tank is the best player in college basketball. The Badgers may be the biggest threat to Kentucky’s quest for perfection.
8 Oregon over 9 Oklahoma State: If Le’Bryan Nash’s head is on straight and Phil Forte is hitting threes, the Cowboys are tough to beat, and Oregon was bushwhacked by Arizona in the Pac 12 Title game last week. Still, Pac 12 Player of the Year Joe Young will be too much for a young Oklahoma State backcourt to handle.
12 Wofford over 5 Arkansas: Every year, there’s an upset in a 5-12 game, so why not this one? Arkansas struggles mightily on defense and has lost 3 of its last 6. The Terriers have won 15 of their last 16. Seems plausible to me, and either way, I think either team loses to North Carolina, so why not go for the upset?
4 North Carolina over 13 Harvard: It’s pretty hilarious that UNC, after all of the academic scandal issues its had over the last year or so, has to play an Ivy League school to open tournament play. I think this game is actually very close, but I’m not betting against Marcus Paige.
11 Ole Miss over 6 Xavier: Xavier is one of the most overseeded teams in the field, and Ole Miss has the offense to beat anybody. Stefan Moody was just terrific in the play-in game against BYU, which was one of the greatest NCAA Tournament games in recent history. You can’t win if you don’t put the ball in the basket, and Ole Miss will do that – a lot.
3 Baylor over 14 Georgia State: The Bears have the #1 scoring defense in the Big 12. The Panthers won their conference tournament final by a score of 38-36. There may be a better chance of Rico Gathers hauling in 50 rebounds than either team scoring 50 points.
10 Ohio State over 7 VCU: Who else is pumped to see D’Angelo Russell against VCU’s mean front line? Consider me intrigued. You can’t go wrong betting against one of the best point guards in the sport.
2 Arizona over 15 Texas Southern: The Wildcats are incredibly dangerous, and they win what could be the second round’s most lopsided game in this contest.
1 Wisconsin over 8 Oregon: This was the exact matchup in the third round last year, and the game was very high scoring. I expect a similar game with the Badgers winning behind a three-part game plan, constructed by Charles Barkely: 1. Get the ball to Frank Kaminsky. 2. Get the ball to Frank Kaminsky. 3. Get the ball to Frank Kaminsky.
4 North Carolina over 12 Wofford: The Tar Heels have played well of late, and their run will continue by winning one of the highest-paced games we’ll see all tournament.
3 Baylor over 11 BYU: I personally think Baylor is as dangerous as any team seeded 3 or lower, and Kenny Chery’s strong play is the reason why. The Bears shoot the ball well, play great defense, and don’t turn the ball over very much. That’s a great recipe for making a deep run in March.
2 Arizona over 10 Ohio State: In a low-scoring, slow-paced game, the Wildcats reach the Sweet 16 thanks to a solid, consistent dose of Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson doing their thing.
1 Wisconsin over 4 UNC: This could be the best game of the tournament. Frank Kaminsky will score a lot of points, as will Marcus Paige. Ultimately, Wisconsin’s incredible ability to defend without fouling will make the difference in a game of smart, controlled basketball.
2 Arizona over 3 Baylor: If there’s one thing that the Wildcats aren’t terrific at, it’s rebounding. Enter Rico Gathers. Yeah, that’s not exactly who Sean Miller wants to face. Still, I think Arizona gets it done with terrific shooting and solid ball-handling to advance to a rematch of last year’s Elite Eight game.
1 Wisconsin over 2 Arizona: The Badgers ended Arizona’s season last year, and I think they do the same with 2015 en route to a second straight Final Four. Wisconsin’s three-point barrage will stretch the Wildcats’ defense out to open the game, and that opens the door for Frank Kaminsky to do his thing inside.
Check back tomorrow for predictions on the other half of the bracket!