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NCAA Tournament Picks 2015


These are my quick NCAA Tournament picks for 2015. My selections write-ups will be posted shortly. I couldn't post them sooner, thanks to NFL free agency and issues with the server earlier Sunday, but I've done just as much research as I've done in previous years.

NCAA Tournament Picks (write-ups): South | West | Midwest | East | Final Four



Midwest

(Louisville)
1. Kentucky
16. Manhattan / Hampton

8. Cincinnati
9. Purdue

(Columbus)
5. West Virginia
12. Buffalo

4. Maryland
13. Valparaiso

(Pittsburgh)
6. Butler
11. Texas

3. Notre Dame
14. Northeastern

(Omaha)
7. Wichita State
10. Indiana

2. Kansas
15. New Mexico State


Round 2:

1. Kentucky
9. Purdue

5. West Virginia
13. Valparaiso

6. Butler
3. Notre Dame

7. Wichita State
2. Kansas


Sweet 16:

1. Kentucky
13. Valparaiso

3. Notre Dame
7. Wichita State


Elite Eight:

1. Kentucky
7. Wichita State

I'll almost certainly have write-ups for each game, but for now, I'll have a brief synopsis on each region.

The Midwest is obviously Kentucky's. The Wildcats are one of the best teams I've seen in a long time, and I don't think any team in this region that can beat them.

I like the 12 and 13 upsets in this region. Buffalo is a popular pick, while Valparaiso is the top 13-seed in this tournament. The Terps have a freshman point guard and happen to be the weakest four-seed (don't tell ESPN, who has overrated them all year), so they could definitely lose in the opening round.

I have Wichita State coming out of the bottom of the region. The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee once again did an atrocious job of seeding teams, and Wichita State is a prime example. The Shockers should be a No. 3 seed. I like them over Notre Dame, as Mike Brey has a dubious history in the Big Dance.




East

East Round 1:

(Pittsburgh)
1. Villanova
16. Lafayette

8. N.C. State
9. LSU

(Seattle)
5. Northern Iowa
12. Wyoming

4. Louisville
13. UC-Irvine

(Columbus)
6. Providence
11. Boise State / Dayton

3. Oklahoma
14. Albany

(Charlotte)
7. Michigan State
10. Georgia

2. Virginia
15. Belmont


Round 2:

1. Villanova
8. N.C. State

5. Northern Iowa
4. Louisville

11. Dayton
3. Oklahoma

7. Michigan State
2. Virginia


Sweet 16:

1. Villanova
5. Northern Iowa

7. Michigan State
11. Dayton


Elite Eight:

1. Villanova
7. Michigan State

Villanova has a relatively easy road to the Elite Eight. N.C. State isn't that great, while LSU is hot garbage. In the Sweet 16, chances are the Wildcats will either get a Louisville squad missing Chris Jones, or a Northern Iowa team that could lose in the opening round to Wyoming.

I briefly considered the two upsets there, by the way. I think Rick Pitino will win at least one game though, while Northern Iowa is a better team than Wyoming. I found it interesting that the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee matched up two small schools in the 5-12 contest. I can't recall them ever doing that before!

Either Boise State or Dayton will beat overseeded Providence. I'm just taking the Flyers because they're playing at home. In fact, I think Dayton could beat Oklahoma and advance to the Elite Eight. I can't say I'm too impressed with the Sooners.

Ultimately, I have Michigan State coming out of this region. It doesn't seem quite right to pick a seven-seed to advance to the Final Four, but the Spartans should've been a four-seed. They were hot down the stretch, and Tom Izzo is a beast in March.






South

South Round 1:

(Charlotte)
1. Duke
16. North Florida / Robert Morris

8. San Diego State
9. St. John's

(Portland)
5. Utah
12. Stephen F. Austin

4. Georgetown
13. Eastern Washington

(Louisville)
6. SMU
11. UCLA

3. Iowa State
14. UAB

(Seattle)
7. Iowa
10. Davidson

2. Gonzaga
15. North Dakota State


Round 2:

1. Duke
8. San Diego State

5. Utah
4. Georgetown

6. SMU
3. Iowa State

10. Davidson
2. Gonzaga


Sweet 16:

1. Duke
5. Utah

6. SMU
2. Gonzaga


Elite Eight:

5. Utah
6. SMU

I REALLY wanted to pick San Diego State over Duke, but I just couldn't do it. The Aztecs are great on defense, but so inept offensively. I think Duke will have an early exit regardless though.

Utah is my pick to get out of this weak region. The Utes being a five-seed is a joke. The Utes should be a two- or three-seed. What's even worse is Stephen F. Austin's seeding. SFA is a dangerous team, so the Selection Committee took notice and made sure to pit them against a very underseeded team. The crooks running the NCAA want SFA to lose, so I'm not going with that popular 12-5 upset.

SMU is another team that should be a higher seed. I have the Mustangs going to the Elite Eight, and I was so close to picking them over the Utes. I like Larry Brown and his tempo team to take down a Gonzaga squad that always disappoints as a higher seed in the NCAA Tournament.




West

Round 1:

(Omaha)
1. Wisconsin
16. Coastal Carolina

8. Oregon
9. Oklahoma State

(Jacksonville)
5. Arkansas
12. Wofford

4. North Carolina
13. Harvard

(Jacksonville)
6. Xavier
11. BYU / Ole Miss

3. Baylor
14. Georgia State

(Portland)
7. VCU
10. Ohio State

Wisc 2. Arizona
15. Texas Southern


Round 2:

1. Wisconsin
8. Oregon

12. Wofford
4. North Carolina

6. Xavier
3. Baylor

7. VCU
2. Arizona


Sweet 16:

1. Wisconsin
4. North Carolina

3. Baylor
2. Arizona


Elite Eight:

1. Wisconsin
2. Arizona

This is the best region this year. Arizona and Wisconsin are the second- and third-best teams in college basketball, so I don't understand why they're paired together. I wanted to have both advance to the Final Four prior to Selection Sunday, but that's not possible. I rate the Wildcats a tiny bit better than the Badgers, but it's super close.

I have another 12-5 upset here, as Arkansas is the weakest No. 5 in the tournament. The Razorbacks could also be flat off another loss to Kentucky, and they could also be looking ahead to North Carolina.

North Carolina, meanwhile, is getting some acclaim as a dangerous No. 4 seed, but I'm not buying it. In fact, I thought about picking Harvard in an upset. I'm not very high on the Tar Heels. They've been getting hype for beating Louisville and Virginia, but both teams aren't at full strength.




Final Four

1M. Kentucky
1W. Wisconsin

7S. Michigan State
5E. Utah

1M. Kentucky
7S. Michigan State

Kentucky-Wisconsin (or Kentucky-Arizona) is the real championship. I think both schools could beat Kentucky if they get lots of luck and Big Blue is having a poor outing. Ultimately though, Kentucky should be able to prevail and advance to play Michigan State.

I should note that there are two strategies you can utilize this year. The first is to just simply pick Kentucky. The second is to choose another team and aim to be safe otherwise. Everyone will be selecting Kentucky to win, so a decent strategy is to predict another champion and hope to get another Final Four team to secure an easy victory.

I'm going with the first plan because Kentucky is so dominant. Thus, because everyone will be taking the Wildcats and other top seeds, I've decided to go with some darkhorses in my Final Four. That would explain why I have a one, two, five and seven advancing to Indianapolis, though I do think they all have a great chance of emerging from their regions.



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