Last year I wrote a terribly long essay on my NCAA “Picks to Clicks.” (In hindsight, that title is grammatically screwed up. Alas what a year of writing can do for you’re grammer skills.)
This year I won’t bore you with the reasons why Notre Dame will beat Iowa State (Notre Dame wins the game by the way) or why Louisville will beat Western Kentucky (see Sheen, Charlie: Um… Duhhh.) But I will share most of my latter tournament predictions and such. Which will all end with Gonzaga cutting down the nets in Atlanta.
These are my non-chalk picks in the first round, or the round after 60 teams get a “bye”-
- Play-in Winner (11 Seed) over Memphis. Memphis statistically is all ginger peachy with a pass happy team (4th in the country in assists per game), a solid offense (21st in points per game) and a decent rebounding squad (39th in the land in boards per game.) However none of this, or all, not exactly sure, contributes to the fact that the Tigers lost almost every meaningful game they played in. Yes, they beat the living daylights out of Conference USA, but it’s CONFERENCE USA. They get the daylights beat out of them by lots of teams. Memphis’ quality competition this year included Louisville (lost by 9), Minnesota (lost by 9 again), VCU (lost by 12), Xavier (lost by two) and Tennessee (won by 5.) HEY LOOK THEY BEat… oh, that’s right. The Vols were left out in favor of La Salle and Middle Tennessee State. I’m writing this before the play-in game and posting it after. Probably not smart, but I’m picking St. Mary’s to win that one. I’ve seen a lot of the Gaels recently, and they are quite good. Even if Middle Tennessee were to win, I think they stand a good chance to knock out the Tigers.
- Belmont (11 seed, again I know) over Arizona (6 seed). Belmont strength: shooting the lights out from three. Arizona weakness: defending the three. Yep.
- Colorado (10) over Illinois (7). These games are nearly just as close as the 8-9 games in terms of determining a winner. Colorado’s prowess on the glass should help subdue a small Illini team.
- Temple (9) over NC State (8). And the coin landed tails.
- Minnesota (11) over UCLA (6). I really do not like six seeds so far. Regardless, Minnesota is a very athletic team that reached nowhere near its ceiling this year. UCLA will have issues. (If you’re counting along at home, Butler is the only six seed left in the field. Woohoo!) (See veiled attempt at sarcasm.)
Moving on to my non-chalk picks in the next round-
- Oklahoma State (5) over Saint Louis (4). This one is a massive upset. I mean, talk about Cinderella. Oh, what’s that? Right… A five seed over a four seed. How many times has that happened? Answer — a lot. These games can sometimes be like an 8/9 matchup in the second round, however I think Oklahoma State will come out on top. Really good players have a tendency to carry a team on their backs while shooting the lights out versus their opponents. Synonym: Marcus Smart’s performance in this game.
- Butler (6) over Marquette (3). There is just something about Butler. I don’t think they will make it to the Final Four. In fact, I have them losing to Miami in the next round, but Butler has a tendency to play with magic on their side. See the two tournament runs as well as their win over Gonzaga earlier this year.
- San Diego State (7) over Georgetown (2). I think Otto Porter, Jr. is a great college basketball player. However I’ve seen A Hoya game or two where he’s the only player on the team in double figures. I like the Aztecs in an upset especially if they can lock down Porter. Georgetown also has the 247th ranked scoring and rebounding team in the country. San Diego State.
- VCU (5) over Michigan (4). Michigan hasn’t won back-to-back games since January. Point VCU.
Non Chalk Sweet Sixteen Picks- None. Just as a refresher, here’s who I have in the Round of Sixteen.
Sweet Sixteen Picks-
1 Louisville over 5 Oklahoma State.
2 Duke over 3 Michigan State.
1 Gonzaga over 4 Kansas State. (Fun fact, GU beat Kansas State by 16 on a neutral floor already this year. Funny.)
2 Ohio State over 3 New Mexico.
1 Indiana over 4 Syracuse.
2 Miami over 6 Butler.
1 Kansas over 5 VCU.
3 Florida over 7 San Diego State.
Final Four Picks-
It’s almost all chalk in the Final Four for me. I have Gonzaga, Louisville, Kansas and… Miami as the last four teams left standing. I’m taking the ‘Canes over Indiana for a simple reason. Indiana struggles against really good defensive teams. The half of the Hoosiers’ losses that weren’t decided by one possession were to Wisconsin and Ohio State. Both good defensive squads. Miami also happens to be a good defensive squad.
In the actual games in Atlanta I have Gonzaga meeting Kansas in the national title game with Gonzaga winning. The Zags went 5-0 versus the Big 12 this year, and the topic of them actually playing Kansas has been broached by many a pundit. Here’s GU’s chance.