Say goodbye to all of your dreams of a perfect bracket, and HELLO TO MARCH MADNESS EVERYONE! Max & Mason walk through the rounds and highlight some of their picks and predict who’s going to be cutting down the nets in Houston.
Round of 64
Games of Note
#7 Iowa vs. #10 Temple
Iowa is coming into the dance ice cold after being eliminated in the first round of the Big 10 tournament. This leaves the door open for Temple to pull off the surprise upset.
#6 Texas vs. #11 Northern Iowa
UNI comes in on a 11-1 run in their last twelve games and have impressive wins versus North Carolina and Iowa St. during the regular season. I can see UNI giving Texas a run for their money.
#7 Oregon State vs. #10 VCU
VCU is ranked 25 in the BPI rankings. They will show why they are ranked this high with a win versus Oregon State.
#5 Indiana vs. #12 Chattanooga
After losing in their first game as the #1 seed in the Big 10 tournament Indiana has a tough match-up in the round of 64. Chattanooga comes in scorching hot as the regular season and tournament champs for the Southern Conference going 10-2 in their last 12 games. If there is a Cinderella this year, Chattanooga gets my vote.
Round of 32
Games of Note
#1 Kansas vs. #9 UConn
Two elite basketball programs go head to head. Should be one of the better games of the tournament. UConn will keep it close, but a more talented Kansas team will take home the W.
#2 Villanova vs. #10 Temple
Not much brotherly love between these two team. Based on their previous match up (Villanova by 16) Villanova will win the battle for Philadelphia.
#4 Iowa State vs. #5 Purdue
Purdue is statistically better than ISU. The Boilermakers have outperformed them in every category except PPG. For the second straight year the Cyclones will be make an early exit from the tournament.
#3 Utah vs. #6 Seton Hall
After edging out Villanova and Xavier for the Big East title Seton Hall looks primed to be a surprise team this year. They have shown they can compete with and beat some of the best teams in the nation. I see no reason why the Pirates can’t also take down Utah.
Games of Note
#2 Xavier vs. #3 West Virginia
West Virginia’s experience of 11 games versus ranked opponents (6 wins) will tip the scales towards a Mountaineer victory.
#2 Oklahoma vs. #3 Texas A&M
These former Big 12 rivals should make for a great game. I predict Buddy Hield will carry the Sooners through this round. Giving Oklahoma their first elite 8 appearance since 2009.
Games of Note
#1 UNC vs. #3 West Virginia
West Virginia’s physicality will edge them past a dangerous North Carolina squad.
#1 Kansas vs. #2 Oklahoma
My favorite college hoops game this year was the first match up between these two teams. Both games were close and I think third times the charm for Oklahoma.
#2 Michigan State vs. #3 West Virginia
After making it to the finals last year, Michigan State has the experience and leadership to move past a tough West Virginia team. Look for a big game from Denzel Valentine to lead the Spartans to the finals.
#2 Oklahoma vs. #2 Michigan State
A clash of Buddy Hield and Denzel Valentine to decide who takes home the hardware. Can it get any better than that?
Max and I have relatively similar early round predictions (CHATT OVER INDIANA? SERIOUSLY?), so I’ll just jump right into the Sweet 16, but if you wanted to check out the rest of my bracket then just click the link above.
Game I’m Looking Forward to the Most: Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M – If you’ve gone this long without watching Buddy Hield and the Sooners play, then you have to reevaluate what you are doing with your life. But seriously, this game is going to be exciting. These teams play two different styles of basketball, with the Aggies beating you with their physical style of play, whereas the Sooners will knock down shots from all around the court. Oh and the best part? This game is being played in Oklahoma City.
Team Not to Sleep On: Miami – The Hurricanes came one game away from clinching the ACC title in the regular season, however a blown game against Virginia Tech would ensure that the U didn’t take home the title. However, I think Miami is going to play with a lot of energy and with some controlled rage.
If You Can Only Catch One: Virginia vs. Michigan State – This game would mark the third year in a row that the Hoo’s and the Spartans clash in the tournament. Michigan State is 2-0 in those past two meetings, but this game gives me all the juju vibe of a revenge game for Virginia. Denzel Valentine is very good and Tom Izzo will one day enter the College Basketball hall of fame, but Virginia puts up a hell of a fight and sends this one into overtime. However, Valentine hits one heck of a buzzer beater to send Sparty to the Final Four.
A Dramatic End to the Oklahoma vs. Kansas Trilogy: The first meeting between the two was a 3OT instant classic in Lawrence when the two teams were ranked #1 and #2 in the country. The second meeting consisted of Buddy Hield willing the Sooners to a comeback that fell just short of winning in front of his home crowd. Kansas has won the previous two encounters by the skin of their teeth, and I am sure that this one will fit the bill as well. Kansas is almost impossible to beat, but I say that Buddy Hield puts on an other worldly performance in the final 10 minutes of the game lifting up the crimson and creme to the big dance.
An Unstoppable Force vs. An Immovable Object: UNC vs MSU. Two talented rosters, two fantastic coaches, two high profile players in Marcus Paige and Denzel Valentine…yup this one should be fun as well. However, I’m picking the Tarheels in this one on a coin flip.
THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Oklahoma vs. UNC. The one for all of the marbles. This game should be very fun to watch from start to finish. I’m hesitant to pick any Big 12 team other than Kansas to take home the title, but I can’t deny the Sooners any longer. Buddy Hield seals this one with a half court double clutched shot that actually counts this time…What can I say I like watching the guy play.
Side Note: When the Final Four has been hosted in the State of Texas, since 2004, UCONN has won the national championship 3 out of 4 times. With the exception being a first round loss in overtime during the 2008 tournament.