You would think that since URI ended their 18 year tournament drought this season that I'd be a lot more in tune with the inner workings of this college basketball season.
You would be wrong.
Despite my Rams making it for the first time since 1999, other than watching them and a few big games here and there I really haven't been paying attention to college basketball that much this year. Since I got really into college basketball when I was like 12 I'd say this year I've paid attention to the least since I got into the sport. I don't think I could name 20 players in college basketball right now. It's crazy how much retiring from gambling has impacted my level of interest this season.
So going into the bracket I don't really know that much about this season. I know the major story lines, like how Greyson Allen trips somebody once a game, or that Lonzo Ball has a crazy helicopter dad. But I haven't really paid much attention to the actual games, like I have no idea what style of play these teams run. But the beautiful thing about March Madness is that doesn't really matter. With the unpredictability of the NCAA tournament someone who knows nothing about college basketball and just picks based off mascots or colors could do better than someone with a great knowledge of the sport. So despite not having a great feel for college hoops this year, I am here to help you guys fill out your bracket. I've been a multiple bracket guy in the past but this is going to be the only bracket I make and the one that I submit into the pool I'm doing with my friends. Here's my picks, you can take them or leave them. So without further ado lets take a look.
Winners in bold
(1) Villanova v (16) Mount Saint Marys:
It's an awesome story that MSM went from 1-11 to the NCAA tournament but against the defending champs it ends. No shame in losing to Nova. Used to be an anti-Nova guy but I've become a Jay Wright fan the last year plus, he can thank the boys at Pardon My Take for a big part of that.
(8) Wisconsin v (9) Virginia Tech
Picking this solely off history (and my love for Big Cat) Virginia Tech basketball is irrelevant. Wisconsin is a great tournament team no matter what. Look at last year all the shit they went through with Bo Ryan retiring and they still made like the sweet 16. On Wisconsin.
(5) Virginia v (12) UNC-Wilmington
I actually saw UNC-W give Duke a hard game in the first round last year when the tournament was in Providence, they are a solid mid major (does that sound like I know what I'm talking about?) They're a really hot upset pick to the point where I think everybody is discounting how good Virginia is. I know they still have that guy who did the finger smell celebration after hitting a 3 in the tournament last year. This team should've been in the Final 4 last year. Virginia moves on.
(4) Florida v (13) East Tennessee State
I'm a gator guy but my instinct is telling me this going to be the upset nobody saw coming.
(6) SMU v (11) TBD
They're probably going to play PC and I'm never going to pick PC to win. Plus I feel like SMU has been pretty good since Larry Brown took over but have only been in the tournament one other time, I feel like they're due to win a game or two.
(apparently that is not the case anymore, had 0 clue Larry Brown wasn't their coach anymore)
Pretty fucked up of my college roommate to let a little error like that stop him from reading. Especially after I basically gave him my fifa and ps3 freshmen year of college. Dude played it more than I did.
(3) Baylor v (14) New Mexico St
I feel like Baylor was #2 in the country like 3 weeks ago. I saw them lose to Yale last year in an awesome 12-5 upset at the Dunk. Purely going off believing they won't get upset two years in a row. Used to fuck with Baylor heavy when my dude Brady Heslip was banging 3s. Baylor moves on in what could be their final NCAA run as the entire institution may get shut down for all the shit they've been pulling.
(7) South Carolina v (10) Marquette
I'm always gonna pick Marquette. I have a friend who went there and they'll always have a soft spot in my heart. Plus South Carolina basketball is a joke, I'm pretty sure they've never won a tournament game. I know in the 90's they lost a ton as a very high seed, purely off history and names alone I'm going Marquette. I'd be shocked if South Carolina won.
(2) Duke v (15) Troy
Unless they play this in Persia I don't give Troy much of a chance.
Round of 32:
(1) Villanova v (8) Wisconsin
Any other year I'd pick Wisconsin to lose this game. I was heavy on the Nova chokes in the tourney bandwagon but after what they pulled off last year and how solid they've been this season I expect them to be back in the Final 4. Ironically on the Pardon My Take interview Big Cat asked about Wisconsin because he was down on them and Jay Wright was like they're good don't worry. It would be some shit to see them knock out the defending champs after that. Don't think it'll happen give me Nova.
(5) Virginia v (13) ETSU
I mean come on, do I really have to explain this one?
(3) Baylor v (6) SMU
In a battle of Texas schools with checked pasts (and presents for Baylor) I'm taking the underdog who already had the death penalty to their football program over the team who will inevitably suffer the same fate. SMU.
(2) Duke v (10) Marquette
This Duke team is going to have a deep run. I hate it as much as anybody else but I just have a feeling after all the distraction this season they're just gonna find a way to win games in March. Would love to be wrong.
(1) Villanova v (5) Virginia
In the V school championship game I'll take Villanova. I am drinking that Wildcat kool-aid this year.
(2) Duke v (6) SMU
In my heart of hearts if this game ever happens I don't see a way school like Duke losing to fucking SMU.
(1) Villanova v (2) Duke
For the sake of the tournament I hope this game happens. Would be a great match up to watch. I hate Duke and kinda like Nova now so I'm going with my heart here.
(1) Gonzaga v (16) South Dakota St
I'm not gonna waste my time writing about 1 v 16 match ups anymore.
(8) Northwestern v (9) Vanderbilt
This could be the National Championship game if this were an academic tournament. The big storyline this year has been how Northwestern finally made the tournament for the first time in school history. I am a sucker for stories like that, they'll probably get their doors kicked in but I'm a sucker and will pick the first time team to win a game. Prepare for another few days of nerds in sports media bragging about Northwestern.
(5) Notre Dame v (12) Princeton
This could also be Final 4 match up of an academic tournament. Normally I pick the Ivy league schools but my friend Bill who knows a lot about basketball has been talking about Notre Dame winning it all for a few weeks and I'm going to steal his pick for a little while and ride ND. They have good veteran guard play which is what the tournament is all about. Not my words.
(4) West Virginia v (13) Bucknell
If you can tell me where Bucknell is without looking up the answer I'll give up $5. Nobody knows. I'm not even sure if it really exists TBH. One thing that I know exists for a fact is Bob Huggins, his jumpsuits and FUPA. That alone should give Press-Virginia at least one win.
(6) Maryland v (11) Xavier
This is an awesome matchup between programs who never should've left their conference. I miss the Temple & Xavier A-10 days it was great for the conference and the fact that Maryland is not in the ACC anymore should be a Supreme Court issue. Just isn't right. I like Melo Trimble a lot, mainly because he's one of the few college players I actually know the name of. I think he could bring this team, who has been slept on all year to the second weekend and beyond of the dance.
(3) Florida State University v (14) Florida Gulf Coast
I'm getting sucked into Dunk City again and fully okay with admitting it. I think that the game is in Florida kind of helped FGSU even though both teams hail from the Sunshine St. I have a lot of family ties to FSU so of course I'm rooting against them. DUNK CITY BABY
(7) St Mary's v (10) VCU
I'm an A-10 guy.
(2) Arizona v (15) North Dakota
They have basketball in North Dakota?
Round of 32:
(1) Gonzaga v (8) Northwestern
I haven't seen much of Northwestern but I'm guessing that team does not have a guy who can match up with the mountain that is Przemek Karnowski. It'll be a very bad look for this program who despite a like 20 year run of success, has still not made the Final 4 to lose to Northwestern, a team making it's first tournament appearance.
(4) West Virginia v (5) North Dame
One coach looks like Buddy Garrity's brother.
One looks like traveling salesmen after a long weekend bender during a conference in Kansas City
Together I think these two coaches teams will give us one of the best games of the 2nd round. I'm riding with my guy Bill on this one. Give me ND.
(6) Maryland v (14) FGSU
I really like Maryland and think they're a team who can make some noise in the tourney. Midnight comes early from FGSU.
(2) Arizona v (10) VCU
If you can't beat URI how are you gonna beat Arizona?
(1) Gonzaga v (5) Notre Dame
The experts are saying this is the year Gonzaga proves us all wrong and makes the final 4. Until that happens I'm picking against them. Mike Brey as much as he looks like he hasn't slept in 3 days is running a solid program at ND. Fighting Irish knock out the Zags.
(2) Arizona v (6) Maryland
I don't wanna spoil my bracket but I'm not picking against Arizona. Idk why.
(2) Arizona v (5) Notre Dame
Read the last sentence I just wrote again
(1) Kansas v (16) does it really matter who they play?
(8) Miami v (9) Michigan St
Purely off name and history here. Come tournament time (except last year when they were my national champion pick and lost in the first fucking round to a 15 seed) Tom Izzo always has his guys ready to go in March. MSU has had a down year by their standards. Their entire team coach walk into my room right now and I wouldn't know it's them but I'm going off legacy and the name on the front of the jersey over the one on the back. Michigan St.
(5) Iowa St v (12) Nevada
Of all the 5-12 games this is the one I like the best for an upset. Gotta pick a team from the gambling capital of the world to have a little magic in the tourney.
(4) Purdue v (13) Vermont
As a New Englander I'm legally required to pick this. Really hope UVM pulls it off.
(6) Creighton v (11) University of Rhode Island
Did you really think I'd pick against URI? But in all seriousness as much as I love my alma mater and want them to win, I also think they got a very favorable match-up. Creighton historically has great regular seasons and does nothing in the tourney. Look at Dougie McBuckets entire career, never made it out of the opening weekend. I don't know his name and don't need to waste time looking it up but I know Creighton lost one of their best players to an ACL and have been stumbling ever since. They were like #8 in the country at one point and now are a 6 seed. My Rams are hot AF rn and I think they keep it going. RHODY RHODY RHODY RAMS RAMS RAMS
(3) Oregon v (14) Iona
I usually don't pick football schools just because my brain can't comprehend them also being good at basketball. However Oregon has transformed into a basketball school the last few years given the struggles of their football program since Aloha Jesus went to the NFL. They also lost a guy to an injury as well. I think Iona could give them a good game (totally just guessing here) but Oregon pulls it out.
(7) Michigan v (10) Oklahoma St
I've always rooted for Michigan. Mainly because it's where Tom Brady went to school and it's also where my future boss, Dave Portnoy (ever heard of him?) also went. Plus I think it's cool that they won the B1G Ten after they had that mini-plane crash situation the other week. I like John Beilein too think he's a good college coach. OKST has been a hot sleeper team but I don't believe so. Hail to the Victors.
(2) Louisville v (15) Jacksonville St
It's Louisville, dude.
Round of 32
(1) Kansas v (9) Michigan St
I feel like this is a game Tom Izzo could totally pull out of his ass but I'm too big of a pussy to put that on my bracket. All I know about Kansas is that Perry Ellis finally left after 29 years in college and that someone got suspended for a hit and run. Idk if I'm a Bill Self fan or not but it's been a few years since they made a Final 4 so what the hell. Rock Chalk JayHawk.
(12) Nevada v. (13) Vermont
This game will be can't miss tv. Two national powers with household names going at it. Nevada wins a close one between two perennial contenders.
(3) Oregon v (11) Rhode Island
Oregon has a key player out as I said previously and I have been saying since Danny Hurley got hired that he's going to bring this team to a Sweet 16 and leave. Rams pull off the upset again and make it to the second weekend of the tournament for the 3rd time in school history.
(2) Louisville v (7) Michigan
Louisville's tournament run lasts as long as Pitino does when he see's a sexy waitress in a bar. I really am a big narrative guy as I've said countless times before on my blog, I think Michigan really rallied around that "crash" and will keep it rolling in the tourney.
(1) Kansas v (12) Nevada
Not going to waste my time.
(7) Michigan v (11) Rhode Island
I love my Rams but I think their lack of consistent offense and horrible free throw shooting finally catches up with them after a nice tournament run. Also gotta suck up to get hired at BSS.
(1) Kansas v (7) Michigan
I hate the right side of the bracket and just went Kansas. I hate being so lame but I also need to try to win this pool.
(1) UNC v (16) Texas Southern
(8) Arkansas v (9) Seton Hall
I didn't even realize Seton Hall was good this year. Fuck it I'll roll with the big east here.
(5) Minnesota v (12) Middle Tennessee St
Everybody is talking about MTSU pulling off another upset so I feel like I sheep just picking them, but I mean it's why more fun this way. Plus I actually do know that Minnesota is over seeded, I've heard a lot of that. I know it's been a rough year with Prince and everything but it's gonna get worse cause you're not making it to the weekend. MTSU
(4) Butler v (13) Winthrop
They have a Rhode Islander who's been a key part of the team for 4 years, Andrew Chrabascz. Gotta go Butler. Plus they're always a solid tourney. I actually know they've beaten Nova twice this year. I think they're for real.
(6) Cincinnati v (11) Kansas St
Cincy was a top 20 team all year and are getting disrespected. I think they have a nice run. (this one game)
(3) UCLA v (14) Kent State
I hate Lonzo Ball and his dad but I mean let's just be for real? UCLA is nasty, they're not gonna lose to Kent State.
(7) Dayton v (10) Wichita State
Wichita State has been my adopted mid-major baby since the year they went undefeated. They are what's great about college basketball. Solid program who develops players and year after year put up results. They are criminally under seeded for the 3rd year in a row. They were ranked 21 in the country but are a 10 seed, I don't get how that works? I am A-10 guy and know Dayton has a good coach but picking against Wichita State in the first round is something I'll never do.
(2) Kentucky v (15) Northern Kentucky
Round of 32:
(1) UNC v (9) Seton Hall
UNC is good right?
(4) Butler v (12) MTSU
I think Butler is going to the Final 4. Straight up.
(3) UCLA v (6) Cincinnati
Idk man this is getting so tiring.
(2) Kentucky v (10) Wichita State
It's be very cool for WSU to get revenge from 2014 although I don't think about is left from either school. I'm just a shocker guy what can I say? Fuck Kentucky.
(1) UNC v (4) Butler
Butler is due for another, "what the fuck how are they in the Final 4 again?" run.
(3) UCLA v (10) Wichita State
Gregg Marshall gets his guys into the elite 8. Lonzo Ball declares for the NBA before he end takes his uniform off.
(4) Butler v (10) Wichita State
Two mid-majors I have a ton of love and respect for. I know this match-up probably won't happen but damnit I'm gonna root for it to. Butler advances to it's 3rd final four since 2010.
Final Four Weekend:
(1) Villanova v (2) Arizona
I think Arizona has a solid chance to win it all but aren't like a sexy pick. Trying to get value to win the pool while still having a realistic team in the finals.
(1) Kansas v (4) Butler
Yeah let's just roll with this. In a year where I really don't have a great feel for the tourney I went with a combo of blast from the past and the perennial favorite. Could I name a single player on Kansas right now for a million dollars? No I couldn't but that's okay I have them in the National Championship Game.
National Championship Game:
(2) Arizona v (1) Kansas
I decided today I am rolling with the wildcats. Partly because of my love for Gronk, partly because I know they're actually pretty good, and partly because I think Sean Miller is a great college coach. This is the year he gets a championship. With that being said I haven't picked the winner correctly since 2006-07 when the gators went back to back. As long as URI doesn't lose in the first round and Kentucky/Duke/UCLA doesn't win it all I'm happy.