Earlier than we get to the purpose, let me say that I’ve by no means felt much less assured a few bracket. I launched into this enterprise having no thought who I’d choose to win the nationwide title, and after I received to the Closing 4 I spotted I used to be having critical issues with all 4 choices I had left.
And that is why this bracket is doomed to success.
Now let me attempt to clarify why I feel that is going to be one of many wildest NCAA tournaments ever.
For me, Alabama is definitely the most secure guess of all 1-seds to advance to at the very least the Elite Eight. The Crimson Tide are ranked first within the event which suggests they deserve the friendliest draw and I feel they received it right here. Arizona is not the best 2-man matchup on the planet, however so much can occur between now and the regional last.
We have now two double-digit seed considerations right here. The final 4 No. 3 seeds to lose within the first spherical have been from the Huge 12, and Baylor is seeking to prolong that streak to 5. The Bears have misplaced 4 of their final six and can face a UCSB staff that cares in regards to the ball and has sufficient offense to get the job accomplished. I am a bit fearful that the Gauchos do not match into the standard nerfed outsider proficiency scheme (solely 18 groups within the division – I get a decrease share of their factors from behind the arc), however Joe Pasternack is a rising star within the teaching ranks and I belief he’ll seize the second.
I am much more assured that Furman will beat Virginia. Paladins have been knocking on doorways for the higher a part of the final decade, and at last, for the primary time since 1980, they’re participating within the Grand Dance. UVA may be very skilled, however they do not have the pure expertise that their greatest groups Tony Bennett had, and so they additionally just lately misplaced certainly one of their most essential items at Ben Vander Plas. Carter wins and Jalen Slawson and Mike Bothwell introduce themselves to the world.
Charleston gained 31 video games and Mountain West has been AMAZING within the NCAA event in recent times, however I nonetheless hate this 12/5 matchup for the Cougars. Charleston has loads of offense within the transition, and few groups within the nation are higher at controlling the tempo and limiting alternatives for transition than SDSU. The Aztecs damage America’s fashionable upset choose and take down the Charleston staff as they face the highest 50 protection for the primary time this season.
I’ve Creighton within the Elite Eight and I am not too positive they will beat NC State. It is a basic matchup between two groups that appear like world champions after they play effectively, and like groups that haven’t any enterprise even when they do not make it to the NIT. Certainly one of them will choose up pace and collapse on the second weekend, and my guess would be the Bluejays, who rose to the event a 12 months in the past and almost beat eventual champion Kansas regardless of taking part in with out two of their greatest gamers.
This finally culminates within the “Bama-Creighton” Regional Closing, with Crimson Tide claiming the Closing 4 favorite, leaving late and kicking off every week of debate over the morality of school sports activities.
Virtually yearly, some area fully falls aside and makes us assume, “I am unable to imagine certainly one of these groups will make it to the Closing 4” as we put together for weekend two. East is that this area in 2023.
Every of the favorites on this area has a deadly flaw, and I’m not exaggerating after I say that there are six groups within the West that I’d advance to the Closing 4 in the event that they have been positioned within the East.
At first is a long story unranked preseason groups that considerably outperformed their common season efficiency by shedding that event. This description matches any of the highest three seeds right here. Fourth seed Tennessee cannot rating. Fifth-seeded Duke will begin with three freshmen, have a 35-year-old freshman head coach, and feasted on a traditionally underperforming ACC late within the season. Sixth seed Kentucky has been wildly inconsistent and underperforming, coming into the event shaken and coming off their solely SEC event look.
The craziest March statistic proper now could be that each Closing 4 however one since 2012 has had at the very least one staff seeded No. 7 or worse. Since 2011, a complete of 11 groups seeded seventh or worse have misplaced the ultimate weekend of the season. And but, few will make it to the ultimate 4 with seven or worse locations this month.
It takes place within the Jap Area.
Memphis, who ought to have most likely upset Gonzaga in the identical place a 12 months in the past, have the expertise and expertise this season to disclose the truth that Purdue’s backcourt is younger and simply not ok.
There’s so much I do not like about Michigan, however generally you need to take a look at the developments and go in opposition to what your eyes are telling you. Tyson Walker will get scorching, Marquette does what 2-seaters normally do, normally on the primary weekend, and the entire “Tom Izzo in March” factor will get much more momentum.
John Calipari additionally seems to be prepared for at the very least a mini redemption arc. This man was the prime instance of upset for Lexington’s first seven seasons, however issues have modified just lately, and Huge Blue Nation has by no means been extra vital. He appeases his doubters with run with a pleasant draw and makes his means again to the regional last for the primary time since 2018.
Sadly for Cal, this run ends identical to the final one: a loss. The staff that’s upset about this can be Oral Roberts, who would be the first ever 12-seeded staff to advance to the Closing 4. The Golden Eagles are the one staff within the nation to steer the desk of their convention this season, with all 4 of their losses coming away in opposition to good opponents. Max Abmas turns into March immortal within the subsequent two weeks.
Or they simply lose to Duke within the first spherical… however most likely all these different issues.
We have now extra double-digit worries right here as Drake beats Miami and Kent State beats Indiana. I truly like each the Hoosiers and Hurricanes coming into this event, however I hate their matchups right here. Miami’s reluctance to defend finally prices them a comeback for a second weekend, whereas IU simply runs into the Golden Flashes, who’re taking part in effectively sufficient to beat nearly anybody on the courtroom.
I can be going in opposition to certainly one of my ladder guidelines and never taking a high 4 staff to win a match in the primary draw this 12 months. Iowa State is limping into the event, however they’re taking care of Pitt’s powerful, if not super-talented staff, and are ruining a possible Sean Miller Bowl within the second spherical.
Full disclosure: Texas gained this area and initially misplaced within the first spherical to Colgate. The Raiders are checking all of the packing containers mandatory for a monstrous March upset: they’re seasoned, dominated the convention, and are the very best three-point capturing staff in your complete nation. They are going to put concern of God into the Longhorns (and would beat Marquette if they’d extra luck within the draw), however finally UT survives and finds their stride.
A poorly seeded Texas A&M staff wins over Penn State in probably the greatest first-round video games, then Buzz Williams fires some not-so-veiled pictures on the choice committee. The Aggies press Texas for some time earlier than the Longhorns play their greatest half of the season to advance.
Prime-seeded Houston virtually loses to Auburn within the second spherical, however then regains the group’s belief by destroying Drake within the Candy 16. Houston-Texas offers us the very best matchup within the Elite Eight and maybe the very best match of the event, however distinctive backcourt depth and expertise The Longhorns finally win. Rodney Terry turns into one of many stars of the sports activities world.
Virtually each staff I fell in love with this season is on this area. That is completely this 12 months’s area of loss of life.
Disclaimer: If UCLA had wholesome Jaylen Clark and Adem Bona I’d choose them to win on this area and most likely Clark’s nationwide title will not play in any respect, and Bona will at the very least be restricted, so I will not. The Bruins get an attractive rematch with Gonzaga in 2006, and this time they’re heartbroken as a result of Bona and co. aren’t wholesome sufficient to manage Drew Timme, who’s going loopy.
VCU over Saint Mary’s is the nervous choose I’ve probably the most confidence in in your complete vary. The Gaels and their proficient defenders could not deal with the strain of Gonzaga in any respect within the WCC finals, and the identical can be true in opposition to the VCU staff, who’re wreaking havoc on protection like everybody else on the pitch. It is a nightmare conflict for Randy Bennett’s staff.
Kansas is the staff I believed I’d choose to win the nationwide title for some time, however the Invoice Self case is a curveball, Kevin McCullar’s well being remains to be a difficulty, and the Jayhawks seemed a lot worse in each March losses to Texas. Arkansas beating KU within the second spherical has change into one thing of a buzzword, however low-performing groups filled with next-level expertise hardly ever have that gentle bulb second in March that everybody needs. Razorbacks will make it fascinating, however Kansas does not lose to Candy 16.
UConn sends Rick Pitino to St. John’s earlier than Gaels followers would love, then destroys the VCU within the second spherical to arrange a Candy 16 matchup in opposition to Kansas. The Husky offensive goes into excessive gear in opposition to KU, then Dan Hurley’s staff is simply too bodily and difficult on the stretch in an thrilling regional win over Gonzaga.
The ultimate 4
Alabama does not have a lot hassle ending Oral Roberts’ Cinderella run as he normally performs a double-figure seed within the Closing 4: Improper. UConn then clamps down on Marcus Carr and co within the second semi-final and ends Terry’s dream streak with the Longhorns.
I am coming from Connecticut to win a nationwide title for one cause and one cause solely: it should be a bizarre event and the Huskies THRIVE in bizarre tournaments. The 2 oddest nationwide champions of the final 15 years are most likely groups from Connecticut (2011 and 2014). Let’s go wild once more, Storrs.