Yesterday, we went through the Midwest and the West regions and made some NCAA Tournament Predictions. Today, we’ll break down the remaining two quadrants of the bracket, and tomorrow, we’ll look at how the Final Four will play out.
East Region, Second Round:
1 Villanova over 16 Lafayette: The Leopards are the best 16 seed in the field, but Villanova is surging at the right time.
9 LSU over 8 North Carolina State: People remember that LSU almost took down Kentucky back in February, but the Tigers are a really solid team with one of the best frontcourts in the country. I’ll take that over a talented-but-unpredictable Wolfpack squad any day of the week.
5 UNI over 12 Wyoming: The Panthers are underseeded in the minds of a lot of fans, and they won’t make an opening-round exit in their first tournament appearance since 2010. Similar to Baylor-Georgia State, this may be one of those games where the first one to 50 wins.
4 Louisville over 13 UC Irvine: This isn’t one of Rick Pitino’s best teams, but he does have Montrezl Harrell. That should be plenty enough for to get by here.
11 Dayton over 6 Providence: The committee made an interesting decision when they put the Flyers in the First Four in their own arena. This is basically a home game for Dayton, and I think they take down an overseeded Providence squad.
3 Oklahoma over 14 Albany: Albany was all over SportsCenter after its amazing buzzer-beater three launched them into the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, it now must take on Big 12 Player of the Year Buddy Hield and Oklahoma’s high-scoring attack.
7 Michigan State over 10 Georgia: Wanna pick against Tom Izzo in March? I certainly don’t.
2 Virginia over 15 Belmont: I’m in the belief that the Cavaliers got robbed of a #1 seed, and they’ll take out some frustration on the poor Bruins.
1 Villanova over 9 LSU: A lot of people have the Tigers upsetting the Wildcats here. I’m not one of them. JayVaughn Pinkston and Ryan Arcidiacono will be enough for Villanova to move on.
5 UNI over 4 Louisville: The Panthers are really good. They’re 30-3 for a reason, and I think they get by an overrated Louisville team to advance to the Sweet 16. It won’t make the headlines that UNI did the last time they advanced to the Sweet 16 when they beat #1 Kansas in 2010, but it’ll do.
3 Oklahoma over 11 Dayton: The Sooners are a legitimate Final Four threat, but this game will be a very stiff test for them. I’ve seen Buddy Hield play enough to trust him in this spot, though.
2 Virginia over 7 Michigan State: These two teams played one of the most entertaining teams of the tournament last year, with the Spartans ultimately coming out on top. Virginia is short-handed and offense remains a question mark, but there’s no doubt about that defense that Tony Bennett has built. The Cavs get some revenge on Sparty and move on to the Sweet 16.
1 Villanova over 5 UNI: The Wildcats will defeat yet another team with a cat mascot after downing the Leopards and Tigers earlier in the tournament. Other than all of the Wildcats, cat mascot teams just aren’t that intimidating this year.
2 Virginia over 3 Oklahoma: I’m hoping and praying that we get to see this matchup. One of the best offenses in college basketball against one of the toughest defenses. It’s a coin flip game, but to win the game, you do ultimately have to put the ball in the basket. Justin Anderson will come through to lift UVA – barely.
2 Virginia over 1 Villanova: Another game of offense against defense, but I’ll take Virginia to make the Final Four because of how solid they continue to be. This matchup will remind us of the amazing game Arizona and Wisconsin played in the Elite Eight last year, and I think like that contest, the two seed advances.
South Region, Second Round:
1 Duke over 16 N. Florida/Robert Morris: Duke earned a #1 seed despite not winning the ACC regular season title or the conference tournament title. They’ll certainly earn a win in this game because Jahlil Okafor will have about 90 points and 75 rebounds.
8 San Diego State over 9 St. John’s: This game is like Virginia-Oklahoma lite. SDSU is terrific defensively. St. John’s can put up points. This time, I’ll go with the defense.
12 Stephen F. Austin over 5 Utah: Nobody is talking about Utah, which concerns me a bit. The Lumberjacks were a successful upset pick for many last season when they squeaked by VCU in overtime, and I’ll take them to do it again here.
4 Georgetown over 13 Eastern Washington: “Huh?” – what everyone said when Georgetown was revealed as a four seed on Selection Sunday. It doesn’t matter here, though.
6 SMU over 11 UCLA: “HUH?!?!?!” – what everyone said when UCLA was revealed to have made the field on Selection Sunday. Ultimately, Larry Brown is a guy who knows how to win in the tournament, and he won a national title the last time he was a 6 seed. I don’t think he goes that far, but I do think that his Mustangs get the first-round win.
3 Iowa State over 14 UAB: The Cyclones are a team that everyone is talking about right now, and I’m included in that group. Fred Hoiberg has built a team that’s a nightmare to prepare for on short rest in the tournament. UAB will have four days of prep and it still won’t matter. Now, if only Iowa State can play a decent first half…
10 Davidson over 7 Iowa: I’ll take the team that’s been there, done that over a team that hasn’t. I’ll roll with another 10-7 upset here.
2 Gonzaga over 15 North Dakota State: Every year, it’s the same story with Gonzaga. They’re overseeded and seem to fall earlier than their seed would suggest they’re supposed to. However, they don’t lose in the first round, and history will repeat itself in 2015.
1 Duke over 8 San Diego State: Tyus Jones. Enjoy watching him now, because he won’t be around for long.
12 Stephen F. Austin over 4 Georgetown: Every year, a double-digit seed makes a run that nobody anticipates, and I’ll roll the dice with SFA to be that Cinderella this year.
3 Iowa State over 6 SMU: Hoiball against stifling defense. Should be a wildly entertaining matchup, but the key in this game (and a lot of other ones) is George Niang. He can matchup anywhere, and nobody can matchup with him anywhere.
2 Gonzaga over 10 Davidson: Kevin Pangos is not only a great basketball player, but he’s also First Team All-Awesome Hair. His luxurious locks will carry the Bulldogs through to the Sweet 16.
1 Duke over 12 Stephen F. Austin: Dick Vitale will be so proud of me continuing to pick the Blue Devils. Okafor will continue to get the job done as long as you keep putting opponents in front of him.
3 Iowa State over 2 Gonzaga: Iowa State had to have loved its draw, and a matchup with Gonzaga is the exact reason why. There will be ton of points scored, but Jameel McKay presents something that the Bulldogs simply can’t match up with.
3 Iowa State over 1 Duke: Ultimately, I’m going with Iowa State because I think they have the defensive edge. Wait, huh? Okafor will get his, but I expect the Cyclones to hammer him down low and make him shoot from the line. There will be a ton of points and a ton of threes, but I’ll go with Iowa State getting it done to advance to a Final Four.