Chris ‘The Bear’ Fallica’s professional region-by-region NCAA Tournament breakdown

“Bear Bets” are actual wagers that Chris “The Bear” Fallica is definitely making.

You’ll be hard-pressed to discover a extra extremely anticipated three weeks on the sports activities calendar than this. 

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament seemingly makes everybody an professional on all these potential Cinderellas and who will finally win the nationwide title.

Obviously this implies I’ve to supply my two cents on how the bracket launch shook out – and the way it could play out. So listed below are my first impressions on every area, with not essentially a Final Four decide, however ideas on excessive seeds to belief and keep away from in addition to potential low seeds to tug an upset or make a deep run.

Later within the week, I’ll have a bunch of enjoyable bracket busting tidbits in one other column, then one other column with precise picks.

We are going to roll this out in phases in hopefully what folks will discover an simply digestible format with one thing for everybody’s curiosity.

Onto my first impressions. Enjoy!


Top Seed I’m Most Confident In

Alabama (1)

That wasn’t arduous. Yes, the Tide roster is younger, however they play nice protection for a crew that likes to rise up and down the ground. 

The path is fairly favorable for Alabama because it has the weakest No. 4 seed (Virginia), second and third seeds (Arizona and Baylor) that don’t play nice protection and primarily get a house recreation within the second spherical in opposition to Maryland or West Virginia. 

I’d really feel very assured in Bama reaching a minimum of the Elite Eight, and the Tide must be the shortest favourite among the many No. 1 seeds to achieve the Final Four.

Alabama, Houston, Kansas, and Purdue chosen as No. 1 seeds

Alabama, Houston, Kansas, and Purdue selected as No. 1 seeds

Jason McIntyre and Colin Cowherd react to Alabama, Houston, Kansas, and Purdue chosen as the highest seeds for the NCAA males’s basketball match.

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Top Seed I’m Least Confident In

Baylor (3)

The Bears are exterior the Top 100 in defensive effectivity per KenPom and are available in having misplaced 4 of six. Even if the Bears get previous UCSB, a really powerful second-round matchup with Creighton probably awaits.

Team Seeded Fifth Or Lower To Make A Deep Run

Creighton (6)

The Bluejays bought rolled by Xavier within the Big East Tournament, however the recreation was so unhealthy, I’d simply throw it out. 

Based on KenPom, Creighton is probably the most underseeded crew within the tourney as it’s thirteenth in its rankings, which is one spot behind convention mate Marquette, which acquired a two-seed. 

Maybe the notion of Creighton modified due to an early season six-game shedding streak, however in there have been a two-point loss to Arizona and a five-point loss to Texas. 

Remember, Creighton practically beat eventual nationwide champ Kansas final yr with out Ryan Kalkbrenner. His presence might prolong the Jays’ run fairly a bit this season.

No. 12 Over No. 5 Potential

Charleston vs. San Diego State

Eh. You’re in all probability the preferred of the 12-5 upsets right here with Charleston over San Diego State, however I don’t see it. 

It’s No. 73 vs No. 14 in KenPom and I don’t just like the matchup in any respect for Charleston. The Cougars like to shoot the 3-pointer – rather a lot. But they don’t make a really excessive proportion of them – tied for 222nd in 3-point proportion (33.4). 

Charleston has loads of wins, however what’s the most effective one? A two-point win over Virginia Tech? A two-point win over Kent State? 

San Diego State is among the slower paced groups within the nation and if the Aztecs – who play nice 3-point protection themselves – restrict possessions and don’t enable Charleston to dictate tempo, SDSU ought to transfer on.

13 Seed Or Lower Most Likely To Win First-Round Game

UC Santa Barbara (14)

I don’t know if I actually imagine this could occur, however I believe the Gauchos are the most effective of the choices on this area. 

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UCSB will get high-percentage pictures and has a go-to man in Ajay Mitchell. 

Baylor is a large step up from something UCSB has confronted this season, but when they get attractiveness and Baylor’s protection continues to battle, this could possibly be a bit uncomfortable for the double-digit favorites.


Top Seed I’m Most Confident In

Marquette (2)

If I’m being fully sincere, I don’t belief any of those high 4 seeds to achieve the Sweet 16, however I believe Marquette has the best path. 

The Golden Eagles additionally possess the traits of a typical Shaka Smart crew – they create offense from turnovers – and often get attractiveness. 

Normally, I like fading No. 2 seeds within the second spherical, however I believe that’s a reasonably favorable potential second-round matchup with Michigan State or USC, so I’d anticipate Marquette to achieve the second weekend.

Top Seed I’m Least Confident In

Tennessee (4)

It’s arduous to belief the Vols, given the season-ending damage to protect Zakai Zeigler and the fame the Vols and Rick Barnes have earned with their fast and disappointing exits as a excessive seed currently – knocked out by an 11 and 12 seed of their previous two journeys.

Dating again to Texas, Barnes is simply 4-13-1 in opposition to the unfold (ATS) in his previous 18 match video games, so his groups are actually ones to contemplate fading. I’m undecided the Vols get tripped up by Louisiana, nevertheless it’s arduous to assume Tennessee could make a future.

12 Over 5 Potential

Oral Roberts vs. Duke

Strong potential. It’s not typically Duke is seeded this low, however when the Blue Devils are, it spells bother. In the previous two cases Duke was seeded fifth or decrease, the Blue Devils misplaced within the first spherical – to Eleventh-seeded VCU in 2007 and ninth-seeded Eastern Michigan in 1996. 

Now the Blue Devils are being lauded as this yr’s model of North Carolina and simply gained the ACC tourney. The bandwagon is kind of full. Yes, Duke has performed fairly nicely over the previous month, however the Blue Devils are younger and have a head coach with out NCAA tourney teaching expertise. 

Oral Roberts has all the pieces you need from a possible upset decide – they’re deep, have a ton of expertise and a star in Max Abmas. They have one of many highest efficient field-goal percentages within the nation (56.1%, seventh).

Abmas, Kareem Thompson and Carlos Jurgens had been part of the 2021 Sweet 16 run. ORU was in all probability going to be a classy upset decide, however the reality they face a really public Duke crew means you’re in all probability going to get a significantly better worth on the Golden Eagles.

Team Seeded Fifth Or Lower To Make A Deep Run

Memphis (8)

At No. 19 in KenPom, the Tigers are a reasonably salty eight-seed. In the span of per week, it misplaced to a full-strength Houston squad by a bucket on March 5 and blew out the Marcus Sasser-less Cougars within the AAC title recreation 75-65 on Sunday.

Memphis has wins over VCU, Auburn and Texas A&M and a 91-88 loss to Alabama. You might put the tandem of Kendric Davis and DeAndre Williams up in opposition to any duo within the nation. Last yr the Tigers put a significant scare right into a high seed within the second spherical (Gonzaga) and could possibly be ready to do the identical this yr.

13 Seed Or Lower Most Likely To Win First-Round Game

Montana State (14)

After a 14-17 season, Kansas State seemingly got here from nowhere in Jerome Tang’s first season to go 23-9, selecting off Kansas and Texas in early January. But the Bobcats are again within the dance after getting drilled by Texas Tech final yr. 

This version of Montana State is healthier suited to get the upset, or a minimum of make this a recreation. They’ve improved by leaps and bounds defensively with switch and Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year Darius Brown, an athletic wing in RaeQuan Battle and gamers akin to Great Osobor and Jubrile Belo, who get to the free-throw line. 

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It’s not unrealistic by any means to assume Montana State might win not just one however two video games this week.


Top Seed I’m Most Confident In

Texas (2)

Texas’ season has been considerably overshadowed by the in-season firing of Chris Beard and defending nationwide champion Kansas being lauded as a No. 1 seed. 

However, make no mistake about it, the Longhorns are nationwide title contenders, as they personal a pair of blowout wins over the Jayhawks, in addition to a giant win over Gonzaga. They possess a Top 20 offense and protection in addition to 4 legit scoring threats, assuming Timmy Allen might be again. 

While a second-round recreation vs. A&M or Penn State could possibly be difficult, the Longhorns’ potential Sweet 16 opponent of Xavier (with out Zach Freemantle) or Iowa State could be favorable. I’d be very shocked if the Longhorns weren’t enjoying for an opportunity on the Final Four.

Top Seed I’m Least Confident In

Indiana (4)

The Hoosiers are a weak four-seed as they’re thirtieth in KenPom and have a really brief bench. 

Indiana has a few wins over Purdue but in addition has been on the nice aspect of many shut video games, with six of its previous eight common season Big Ten wins coming by six factors or fewer. Even if IU will get previous Kent State – which is way from a gimme – Miami and Houston could possibly be the Hoosiers’ subsequent two opponents.

12 Over 5 Potential

Drake vs. Miami

The Canes are a brief favourite right here, and that’s truthful, because the ankle damage to main rebounder and third-leading scorer Norchad Omier is a significant concern.

Power rankings additionally don’t assume a lot of Miami as it’s thirty sixth in BPI – one spot behind Ohio State – and fortieth in KenPom. Drake gained 13 of 14 to finish the season, has a win over Mississippi State, and performs stable protection. 

My guess is there’s loads of public love for Drake, however Miami’s guards must be ok to get the Canes by way of – even when Omier is proscribed.

Team Seeded fifth or Lower To Make a Deep Run

Mississippi State/Pitt winner

My hunch is the Bulldogs get the win within the 11-seed play-in recreation if you’re trying to isolate one of many two groups, however whoever wins will get an Iowa State crew that was as soon as 13-2 however completed 19-13.

I just like the Bulldogs or Panthers in that matchup, with both Xavier or Kennesaw State ready within the second spherical. For bracket swimming pools and different contests that reward taking low seeds, this can be a no-brainer.

13 Seed Or Lower Most Likely To Win First-Round Game

Kent State (13)

I don’t belief Indiana to start with, and now they get matched up with a really harmful 13-seed.

The Golden Flashes gave Houston and Gonzaga all they may deal with on the street earlier this yr and have an skilled backcourt in Sincere Carry and Malique Jacobs. This crew may have no worry of a Big Ten opponent and can probably relish the possibility. 

Indiana is simply a four-point favourite right here, so the oddsmakers know. There are some good costs on the market, too, on Kent State to achieve the Sweet 16, as probably a shorthanded Miami or Missouri Valley champ Drake could be the Golden Flashes’ second-round opponent.


Top Seed I’m Most Confident In

Kansas (1)

Based on energy rankings, neither BPI or KenPom see Kansas as a No. 1 seed. But all of the Jayhawks appear to do is win. It’s been six weeks since KU misplaced to somebody apart from Texas. 

Compared to the opposite high 4 seeds on this area, I’ve extra religion within the perception that Kansas will make a deep run – solely twice in 10 tries as a No. 1 seed has a Bill Self crew failed to achieve a minimum of the Elite Eight. Considering UCLA’s damage considerations, Gonzaga’s résumé and Connecticut within the area, I believe Kansas is the right reply right here.

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Top Seed I’m Least Confident In

UCLA (2)

Prior to Jaylen Clark’s Achilles damage, I’d have picked UCLA to win all of it. But that damage is a game-changer for me. The Bruins are nonetheless going to achieve the Sweet 16, however Gonzaga or TCU would await, and that’s the place Clark’s loss would turn out to be obvious.

Team Seeded fifth or Lower To Make a Deep Run

TCU (6)

The Horned Frogs haven’t been absolutely wholesome all season and now won’t have middle Eddie Lampkin (switch portal), however this can be a deep, skilled crew able to beating anybody, as evidenced by a 23-point win at Allen Fieldhouse.

TCU will get the winner of Arizona State/Nevada – two groups who arguably shouldn’t be within the match – after which might get Gonzaga. The depth, athleticism and physicality of the Horned Frogs would give Gonzaga all it might deal with. 

TCU misplaced an time beyond regulation recreation to Arizona within the second spherical final yr, and with so most of the key gamers again, I see TCU getting a minimum of one step additional this yr.

12 Over 5 Potential

VCU vs. Saint Mary’s

The Gaels are solely a 3.5-point favourite right here, and I’d anticipate that line to drop – I’m not shopping for Saint Mary’s for a prolonged keep.

SMC resides off a house OT win over Gonzaga and upper-echelon-looking analytics bolstered by a weak convention. They don’t shoot free throws nicely, aren’t deep, and we’ll see if they will deal with the VCU press, depth and try to hurry up the sport. The A-10 wasn’t an awesome league both this yr, however this might be a giant check for the Gaels.

13 Seed Or Lower Most Likely To Win 1st Round Game

Iona (13)

This is just about a default decide, as neither the No. 14, 15 or 16 seeds have an opportunity right here. The trio of Daniss Jenkins, Nelly Junior Joseph and Walter Clayton ought to get theirs on the offensive finish, however extra importantly, the important thing might be if the Gaels can generate turnovers. 

UConn has the propensity to show the ball over – 234th nationally in turnover proportion per KenPom, and if this recreation occurs to be shut, notice that the Huskies misplaced every of their previous 4 one-score video games, together with to Seton Hall, which energy charges over 20 spots decrease than Iona per BPI. 

Maybe Rick Pitino offers Iona a going-away current in opposition to a really fashionable Final Four crew?

Chris “The Bear” Fallica has lined sports activities for practically three many years. While school soccer has been his focus, he additionally enjoys the NFL, Soccer, Golf, Tennis, MLB, NHL and Horse Racing, with an “occasional” wager on such occasions. Chris lately gained the inaugural Circa Football Invitational and completed within the Top 10 of the Golden Nugget Football Contest. He’s a multiple-time qualifier for the NHC Handicapping Championship. Remember, “The less you bet, the more you lose when you win!” Follow him on Twitter @chrisfallica.

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