NCAA Men’s Bracket: Top matchups, potential upsets, predictions, extra

We formally have a bracket. On what has develop into a nationwide vacation, Selection Sunday, we kick off our protection with an prompt response to the sector of 68. 

Here are my takeaways from the choice committee’s choices.

The 1-line is smart … for essentially the most half.

The shock from the committee was Houston, which simply misplaced to Memphis within the American Athletic Conference championship sport on Sunday, touchdown the No. 2 general seed within the match and being positioned within the Midwest Region. That means the Cougars had been chosen over Kansas, the No. 1 seed within the West Region, and given the potential regional therapy in Kansas City. The Jayhawks, in the meantime, should go to Las Vegas in a area the place UCLA is the No. 2 seed.

Kansas had 10 extra Quad 1 wins than Houston in the most effective convention in faculty basketball, however the Cougars had been No. 1 within the NET rankings. That mentioned, UCLA won’t be that threatening with Jaylen Clark executed for the season and Adem Bona coping with an harm. I feel Kansas and Alabama got essentially the most manageable paths, they usually may meet within the nationwide championship sport.

SEC champion Alabama was deserving of the No. 1 general seed, and the Crimson Tide may find yourself having a very clear path to the Final Four. At 29-5, Nate Oats’ group would face Maryland or West Virginia within the Round of 32, two succesful groups however neither with the firepower of Alabama. 

Looking at Arizona, Baylor and Virginia as the opposite groups becoming a member of them within the area, the Pac-12 match champion Wildcats seem like essentially the most harmful staff coming into the dance, however Tommy Lloyd’s squad does have a backcourt that may be inconsistent. Baylor’s protection is regarding, whereas Virginia’s offense tends to go ice-cold. The Crimson Tide bought the highest seed and the most effective path, for my part. 

Big Ten champion Purdue has what I might name a manageable pathway, however doubtlessly drawing Memphis within the second spherical may trigger a good sport. Having a red-hot Marquette staff, a Kansas State staff stacked with a duo in Keyontae Johnson and a Duke staff that I feel is essentially the most harmful within the area gives critical challenges. The Boilers greater than deserved a 1, their first in 27 years, however I feel they’ve the toughest path to a Final Four, becoming as a result of they had been the final 1-seed.

The two-seeds … 

Arizona, Texas, Marquette and UCLA had been all deserving of their slots, with the Longhorns successful the Big 12 Tournament and incomes 14 Quad 1 victories, and the Golden Eagles going 28-6 and sweeping the titles in a five-bid Big East. A storyline to look at on the 2-line: Shaka Smart’s Marquette staff could be very snug if it advances to the Sweet 16. By being within the East Region, the Golden Eagles could possibly be again at Madison Square Garden in 10 days, the place they gained their first convention match title on Saturday night time.

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Let’s go to the final 4 in and the primary 4 out …

First off, it was fairly shocking to see {that a} North Carolina staff that accounted for only one Quad 1 win was solely the third staff out within the discipline. The second main takeaway: Nevada accomplished a giant night time for the Mountain West. That convention workplace needs to be celebrating after incomes 4 bids to the NCAA Tournament for a second straight 12 months. Steve Alford’s Wolf Pack misplaced a pair of Quad 3 video games and can take a three-game shedding streak into the NCAA Tournament — with all three defeats coming to groups with a NET rating of 91 or decrease.

The Pac-12 needs to be glad as nicely as a result of the league bought the staff enjoying Nevada within the First Four — Bobby Hurley’s Arizona State Sun Devils had been among the many final 4 in and can draw the Wolf Pack in Dayton. The different two among the many final 4 in had been Mississippi State and Pitt, who had been each deserving of slots.

The first 4 out: Oklahoma State, Rutgers, North Carolina and Clemson. While the 2 leagues I listed above needs to be joyful, the ACC was penalized for having such a weak backside. Clemson did not belong within the discipline with two Quad 4 losses and one other pair of Quad 3 defeats, however to see a 23-win staff out of the convention not make it’s nonetheless one thing as a result of that may have been unprecedented throughout a unique period. 

Why did Rutgers miss the match? Home losses to Nebraska and Michigan had been tough, and a loss to Minnesota could possibly be considered as a backbreaker. The Scarlet Knights went 4-7 in opposition to Quad 1, and though they owned a street win over Purdue, their losses washed that out. More than something, this can be a state of affairs the place a tender non-conference schedule bought penalized. Rutgers actually did not do a lot to assist itself forward of Big Ten play.

As for the primary staff out, Oklahoma State, it is extra heartbreak for Mike Boynton’s program, as a result of the Cowboys had been overlooked of the match final 12 months. I believed the committee would facet with faculty basketball’s greatest convention — the Big 12 — particularly with the Cowboys having two extra Quad 1 wins and one much less Quad 3 loss than Nevada. Instead, it is one other Selection Sunday of disappointment in Stillwater. 

Upset specials?

Everybody loves the 5/12 video games as a result of it is a main upset zone, so let’s go there.

In the South Region, the San Diego State/Charleston sport is fascinating. There’s a ton of strain on Brian Dutcher and the Aztecs, with a veteran core, to win a match sport after collapsing vs. Creighton final 12 months. On the opposite facet, Pat Kelsey’s CAA champion Cougars lead the nation in wins with 31, and have misplaced simply thrice. Look for Charleston to drag off an opening-round victory.

The committee gave us a present with Jeremy Roach dealing with Max Abmas as Duke takes on Oral Roberts. Abmas and the Eagles went to the Sweet 16 two years in the past, so the ACC champion Blue Devils truly get a harder opening-round check than they may within the second spherical. The winner of this matchup will go to the Sweet 16.

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In the West, it is a terrific backcourt matchup as Aidan Mahaney and Saint Mary’s meet Ace Baldwin and VCU. Give me the Gaels. And then within the Midwest, a fairly skilled Drake staff that has a stud in Tucker DeVries may give Miami a handful of points. With the standing of massive man Norchad Omier up within the air for the Hurricanes on account of an ankle harm, the Bulldogs actually have a shot to advance. I’m calling for a number of 12s to win.

Best opening matchup? 

My favourite is obvious: No. 4 seed UConn vs. No. 13 seed Iona. For a northeast basketball fan, it is a dream. For a training matchup, it is two characters on the sidelines, and maybe Rick Pitino’s rumored return to the Big East is arriving with an early style of the convention. In Year 5 on the helm, Dan Hurley led the Huskies to a 14-0 begin and a 25-7 marketing campaign, however Connecticut has but to win an NCAA Tournament sport underneath this teaching employees. That’s the following step, and Friday is crucial, however Pitino is among the greatest coaches within the nation. His Gaels shall be prepared.

Other first-round video games that you must circle in your bracket: 

How about Maryland assembly West Virginia within the 8/9 sport with the winner possible getting Alabama? Bob Huggins has had a bounce-back 12 months with a Mountaineers staff that has a top-15 KenPom offense led by veteran guard Erik Stevenson. Kevin Willard is forward of schedule in College Park with a stout defensive squad and a big-time guard in Jahmir Young. The lead-up press conferences for this sport shall be worthy of popcorn. Neither coach holds again.

Top coach matchups

Speaking of fiery coaches, how about Fran McCaffrey vs. Bruce Pearl when an incredible Iowa offense meets a high-level Auburn protection? That matchup comes down as to whether the Tigers can disrupt the Hawkeyes and generate tempo. 

Then, there’s the Bryce Hopkins Bowl when Kentucky meets Providence in Greensboro on Friday. Hopkins transferred out from Lexington and ended up in Ed Cooley’s arms with the Friars, who enter the NCAA Tournament having misplaced three straight. Meanwhile, no one has extra strain on themselves coming into a giant dance exterior of John Calipari. After two letdown seasons, Oscar Tshiebwe and the Wildcats should impose their will.

Sleepers, long-shots and groups that might shock

A possible long-shot upset? Keep an eye fixed on 14th-seeded UC Santa Barbara when the Gauchos meet Baylor. UCSB has a top-75 offense however can go about it with a slower tempo. If they will get the Bears to that liking of a sport, do not be shocked if that is a ballgame. Another to observe? Matt Langel and Colgate as a 15-seed taking up Texas. While the Longhorns trip a serious excessive, the Raiders are actually sound offensively, they usually’re one other staff that may give the Horns some points. 

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The 8-seed that I’m bullish on? Penny Hardaway and Memphis, which may get Purdue within the second spherical. The Tigers are bodily and Kendric Davis could be the most effective guard on the courtroom. If Memphis can beat Dusty May and FAU, look out.

Look out for Gonzaga to make a deep NCAA Tournament run. The Zags are definitely going to get previous Grand Canyon and doubtlessly TCU — though that shall be robust — to the second weekend. A Sweet 16 matchup with UCLA is on the desk, however the Bruins are a bit banged up and that is extra doable than one would assume. Could Drew Timme have a run up his sleeve?

Don’t sleep on Tom Izzo and Michigan State simply but. Sure, the Spartans have had an odd season, however with Tyson Walker and AJ Hoggard, Seventh-seeded Sparty will get a manageable 10-seed in USC and doubtlessly a Marquette staff, that on the finish of the day continues to be the third-youngest in faculty basketball. The Golden Eagles could be favored in that sport, however they do not have a conventional middle, one thing that has given Sparty some points.

Indiana drew MAC champion Kent State, and the Hoosiers needs to be on excessive alert for that one. The 28-6 Flashes challenged themselves in non-conference play, coming near knocking off Gonzaga. Redshirt senior guard Sincere Carry is somebody who appears to be like poised to make his mark on March, averaging greater than 17 factors per sport. The Hoosiers want Jalen Hood-Schifino to guide them within the backcourt and step up.

The under-the-radar matchup within the first spherical: Seventh-seeded Texas A&M vs. Tenth-seeded Penn State. Wade Taylor IV vs. Jalen Pickett? Sign me up. These are two groups that, on their greatest day, are extra harmful than their seed line and a mirrored image of the nation typically. The Aggies deserved a greater seed. 

The 13-seed to look out for: Louisiana. The Ragin’ Cajuns are a harmful squad with a stud in Jordan Brown (19 PPG) they usually get Tennessee, which may fall into offensive ruts and is shorthanded with Zakai Zeigler out for the season.

The first 4 staff that might emerge within the match? Pitt. Jeff Capel has put collectively among the finest turnaround tales in faculty hoops. The Panthers have a dynamic duo in Blake Hinson and Jamarius Burton, and can draw Mississippi State in Dayton. As good because the Bulldogs are defensively, they actually wrestle to attain. Pitt isn’t a high-turnover staff and has completely different sources of scoring.

My first intestine Final Four … 





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