Round of 64
#1 Kansas vs #16 Penn
A 16 seed has never beaten a 1 seed, not going to happen here. Rock Chalk.
#8 Seton Hall vs #9 North Carolina State
NC State is coming off one of their worst performances of the season after getting knocked out of the ACC tournament by Boston College. NC State is a team that can light it up on the scoreboard, but finished outside the top 280 nationally in 2-point percentage D. With a big like Angel Delgado, and guards like Desi Rodriguez and Khadeen Carrington who can create for themselves, Seton Hall should be able to score with ease against the Wolfpack defense. I’m taking Seton Hall in this one.
#5 Clemson vs #12 New Mexico State
Both of these teams rank high in several defensive categories, which favors Clemson who obviously plays in the better conference. The difference here is the lack of offense that Clemson generates. Clemson doesn’t really have that go-to dynamic player than will be able to take over a game the way New Mexico’s Zach Lofton (19.8 ppg) is able to. With a team that prides themselves on defense and that has numerous players that can contribute on the offensive end, I like New Mexico State to pull the upset in this one.
#4 Auburn vs #13 Charleston
Auburn was considered a potential 2 seed for most of the year until their late season struggles arrived. This won’t be an easy game for them going against a Charleston team that has three players who score at least 17 ppg. Auburn themselves has a trio that has the ability to put up points the way that the Cougars can. In a game of complete opposite style teams, I expect the more talented team to be able to dictate the pace that this game is played at. I like Auburn in this one.
#6 TCU vs #11 Syracuse
Syracuse came back late against ASU to secure a victory. They were the last team to make the tournament, but I don’t think they are done yet. TCU has been an extremely inconsistent team this year. They had one of the tougher schedules in the country, and that definitely showed at times throughout the season. Syracuse has a good zone defense and I don’t think TCU will be able to adjust to it quickly enough to put themselves in a good position to win the game. Cuse to the Second Round
#3 Michigan State vs #14 Bucknell
Bucknell is a team filled with upperclassmen who nearly knocked off West Virginia in the round of 64 last year. They are a team that forces a ton of turnovers, which doesn’t bode very well for a Tom Izzo coached team that seems to frequently have turnover problems. The Bison will look to upset MSU without forward Bruce Moore, who started 22 games this season. It’ll have been 12 days since Michigan State has taken the court before their meeting with Bucknell on Friday, which has given Tom Izzo and the coaching staff plenty of time to reflect on what went wrong two years ago against Middle Tennessee. Take the Spartans, as they will physically be too much for the Bison.
#7 Rhode Island vs #10 Oklahoma
Nearly everyone that follows college basketball doesn’t think Oklahoma deserves this opportunity to play Rhode Island. Oklahoma is easily the coldest team in the field of 68, and will be facing a backcourt loaded team in Rhode Island. The Rams feature a dominant senior guard duo with E.C. Matthews and Jared Terrell. One thing that Rhode Island lacks is a solid frontcourt. Oklahoma isn’t exactly the team that can exploit this, but in a game of guards, I have to ride with the best one on the court in Trae Young. Boomer Sooner.
#2 Duke vs #15 Iona
Iona is dancing for the third consecutive year and are hungry for an upset. They are a team that gets 37% of their points from three and are capable of getting hot at any moment. The downside of this Iona team is that they don’t defend well. There aren’t many players in America that can compete with Marvin Bagley, and an undersized Iona team sure won’t have an answer. If you’re looking for the 2 vs 15 upset, you won’t find it here.
Round of 32
#1 Kansas vs #8 Seton Hall
Kansas is going to struggle mightily with trying to stop the Big East’s all-time leading rebounder in Angel Delgado. With Kansas’ lack of depth in the frontcourt, and with their lone reliable big man Udoka Azubuike not at full strength, Delgado will cause a ton of problems for the Jayhawks. Seton Hall will make this an interesting game, but in a matchup that won’t feature too many substitutions, Kansas’ guards will be able to take control of this game late. Senior guard Devonte Graham will be the x-factor.
#4 Auburn vs #12 New Mexico State
Like I said before, this New Mexico State team has a ton going for them. With the inconsistency and lack of depth that Auburn has, I think the quick turnaround will be too much for them to handle. By now, everyone will know the name Zach Lofton as he continues the Cinderella story. I like New Mexico State to advance to the sweet 16.
#3 Michigan State vs #11 Syracuse
Michigan State is one of the more talented teams in the country, but sometimes play down to inferior opponents as seen in the Big Ten tournament and regular season play. Syracuse can definitely give them some problems early in the game with their zone defense, but Tom Izzo is a pretty damn good coach and should be able to make the on the fly adjustments to allow his team to thrive. Michigan State should win this one fairly easily and advance to the Sweet 16.
#2 Duke vs #10 Oklahoma
As much as I would love to see the upset here, there is no way that Grayson Allen will be outshined by Trae Young in his final tournament. Not that this game will come down to which one of these players will be better, because Duke is by far the better team on all cylinders. Oklahoma really doesn’t have an advantage at any position. Duke should be able to cruise into the sweet 16.
#1Kansas vs #12 New Mexico State
One thing that New Mexico should have going for them will be that the Michigan State and Duke fans will be pulling for them to knock off Kansas. The thin frontcourt of Kansas’ won’t even be noticed in this game. Guards Devonte Graham, Lagerald Vick, and Malik Newmann will have their way with this New Mexico State team. Unfortunately, the Cinderella story will end here, with Kansas reaching the elite 8 for the third straight year.
#2 Duke vs #3 Michigan State
I’ve heard from numerous people that the winner of this game will be the ones to cut down the nets on April 2nd. Quite frankly, I agree. Everyone filling out a bracket will have this matchup as their sweet 16. One of the key notes in this matchup is that Tom Izzo is 1-11 vs Coach K over his career. Michigan State lost to Duke on a neutral floor earlier this year at the Champions Classic. However, that was the second game of the year for Michigan State. They are an entirely new team, a team that actually matches up to a Duke team on a talent perspective. With a few days of preparation and motivation, I think Izzo will have his guys ready to avenge not only this years loss, but also the loss from the 2015 Final Four, a game that Tum Tum Nairn and Gavin Schilling started, who both now come off the bench (talk about depth).
#1 Kansas vs #3 Michigan State
Team Advancing to the Final Four
You can take this how you want it. When I used to pick brackets in the past, I couldn’t hide my bias. I would say that I’ve gotten better with this. So, here it goes:
I agree with Jay Bilas and Dick Vitale when they say the Spartans will cut down the nets in San Antonio. With all the noise that has gone on around the program, and everything that the players have had to deal with, I think now is the time that they will play to their full potential and leave it all on the court. Michigan State is 29-4, and we keep hearing about how they are underperforming. If a team with that kind of record and the players that they have is underperforming, I’d like to see what happens if they perform to their potential.
Miles Bridges came back to school for one goal. He made it clear when he announced his decision, he wants to win a national championship. Well, this roster has the size, depth, and talent to do it. And if this all wasn’t a reason to believe that this is their year, here is more food for thought.
Throughout the Summer and this season, Miles Bridges would use the #mckennassquad on some of his posts. I had no idea what it meant until recently. Just over a week ago, an 11 year old girl named Mckenna Schummer passed away with bone cancer. He originally dedicated this season to her.
I don’t think Bridges needs any extra motivation after everything that has gone on, but with everything he’s playing for, I’m expecting him to take over this tournament.
I’ve got #Mckennassquad advancing to the Final Four