Thursday, March 19, 2015

0 comments My 2015 NCAA Tournament Bracket

My favorite time of the year is NCAA Tournament time. Since it starts today then I figured I would share my bracket and explain myself a little bit about why I picked the bracket in the way I did. If you feel up to it, put predictions below as well. I'm sure I've told this story before, but I have only won one NCAA Tournament pool and that was the pool for my wife's office. They sprung it on her at the last minute and she handed me the bracket to fill out and I filled it out in about two minutes. It ended up being the winning bracket. Now I spend more time than I should making my picks and can't win shit. Such is life.

By the way, I was going to attach a file that showed my bracket, but I could only attach it as a link (rather than an image) and that annoyed me so I figured I would just take the time to write my picks out of protest.

Midwest Region

Round of 64

Kentucky over Hampton
Purdue over Cincinnati
Buffalo over West Virginia
Maryland over Valparaiso
Texas over Butler
Notre Dame over Northeastern
Wichita State over Indiana
Kansas over New Mexico State

I tried not to predict too many upsets this year, because it really burned me last year and I got "Wanting there to be an upset" confused with "Do I really think there will be an upset?" Not so this year. There are exceptions of course. I think Buffalo is underseeded and West Virginia is injured to where the Buffalo team is going to be able to beat them. Otherwise, I'm trusting Rick Barnes, which is always a shaky proposition and one I will probably regret. Betting on Rick Barnes is the dumbest pick I have made so far.

Round of 32

Kentucky over Purdue
Buffalo over Maryland
Notre Dame over Texas
Wichita State over Kansas

I like Maryland, but they have won so many close games this year. At some point they need to have some bad luck. Running into a really good Buffalo team that can defend the perimeter is going to be that bad luck. I also think the loss of Cliff Alexander will hurt Kansas and the experience of Baker, Van Fleet, Cotton and Gregg Marshall will have them pay forward the upset they suffered in the Round of 32 last year to Kentucky. 

Sweet Sixteen

Kentucky over Buffalo
Notre Dame over Wichita State

Notre Dame is too good when they get hot. Kentucky is good to lose in the Sweet Sixteen. 

Elite Eight

Kentucky over Notre Dame

This would be a fun game to watch, but I think in the end, it will be Kentucky's depth inside and perimeter defense that will hold Notre Dame back from hitting 3's and making a game of this one.

West Region

Round of 64

Wisconsin over Coastal Carolina
Oregon over Oklahoma State
Arkansas over Wofford
North Carolina over Harvard
Mississippi over Xavier
Baylor over Georgia State
VCU over Ohio State
Arizona over Texas Southern

Admittedly, this is pretty boring. I want Wofford to beat Arkansas, but I can't see Wofford handling the Arkansas press. Every year there is a First Four team that makes the Round of 32 it seems and that team is Mississippi this year. Otherwise, it's chalk for me.

Round of 32

Wisconsin over Oregon
North Carolina over Arkansas
Baylor over Mississippi
Arizona over VCU

North Carolina can handle Arkansas' press because they have three point guards who can take care of the ball. I don't trust Scott Drew and his Baylor team, but they are long and play a zone defense that most teams need more than two days to prepare for. VCU just doesn't have the height to deal with Arizona's big men and T.J. McConnell and Gabe York will handle "Havoc."

Sweet Sixteen

North Carolina over Wisconsin
Arizona over Baylor

I know, it's dumb to pick UNC to pick Wisconsin or at least it seems that way. I believe they have the athleticism to defend Wisconsin on the perimeter and have the height to rebound well against them. I believe UNC is peaking right now and the big guys UNC has will match up well with Frank Kaminsky. UNC not being able to shoot the 3 does concern me though. Arizona has shooters and can shoot over the Baylor zone, plus I just think they are the better team. Though it will be fun to watch Rico Gathers rebound against Arizona's big men, which is a group that doesn't have a dominant rebounder.

Elite Eight

Arizona over North Carolina

Arizona matches up better with North Carolina than Wisconsin did. They have athleticism and experience at the point guard position that will result in Arizona getting the shots they want on offense. I don't know if UNC can defend Stanley Johnson and Hollis-Jefferson effectively. I think Arizona is the better team...this year.

East Region

Round of 64

Villanova over Lafayette
NC State over LSU
Northern Iowa over Wyoming
UC-Irvine over Louisville
Providence over Dayton
Oklahoma over Albany
Michigan State over Georgia
Virginia over Belmont

This is the region where I was very tempted to choose upsets, but chickened out. I can see Wyoming, Dayton, and Belmont winning. I don't think they will, but I think they all have a good chance to give the higher seed trouble. Louisville's inability to shoot the 3 or score in the paint causes me to choose UC-Irvine, while I genuinely have no idea which LSU and NC State teams will show up. Both teams are schizophrenic to the point of annoyance.

Round of 32

Villanova over NC State
Northern Iowa over UC-Irvine
Oklahoma over Providence
Michigan State over Virginia

It's not that I don't like Virginia. I can see them winning the national title, but not when Justin Anderson isn't completely healthy, which he isn't. Virginia can go long periods without scoring and the toughness they display in preventing other teams from scoring will be matched by MSU's toughness. In the end, I love Virginia on defense, but I'm afraid a scoring drought will set them back. This could be a 48-44 game.

Sweet Sixteen

Villanova over Northern Iowa
Oklahoma over Michigan State

The better teams will win. Oklahoma can easily lay an egg and their lack of height does bother me a bit against MSU, but I can't get past the Sooners excellent starting five. They probably have the best starting five in this region. I wanted to pick them to make the Final Four, but couldn't get brave enough to do that.

Elite Eight

Villanova over Oklahoma

Villanova has (sort of) been ignored for most of the year I think. They lack height, but otherwise can shoot the hell out of the ball and play great defense. I can only trust Oklahoma's lack of depth so far and the Elite Eight is that limit for me.

South Region

Round of 64

Duke over Robert Morris
San Diego State over St. John's
Stephen F. Austin over Utah
Georgetown over Eastern Washington
Iowa State over UAB
Davidson over Iowa
Gonzaga over North Dakota State

Pretty boring, I must admit. It's not that I don't like Utah as a team. Every year I pick a team to lose in the opening round and they seem to go to the Elite Eight or the Final Four. UConn was that team last year. Utah could be that team this year. Stephen F. Austin returns much of the same team that beat VCU last year and they shoot the ball really well, as well as are good on the offensive boards. I think they pull the upset.

Round of 32

Duke over San Diego State
Stephen F. Austin over Georgetown
Iowa State over SMU
Gonzaga over Davidson

Gonzaga wins the game between the two teams that will most likely have a "white-out" at some point during the game. I don't trust Duke at all due to shaky defense, but I think they prevail over a San Diego State team that can't always score well. Georgetown loses to a double-digit seed every year. It's tradition.

Sweet Sixteen

Duke over Stephen F. Austin
Iowa State over Gonzaga

I don't believe in Gonzaga. I just don't. I think Iowa State is the better defensive team, and while Gonzaga can shoot, I'm not sure outside of Arizona and BYU (both teams they lost to) they have faced a team that score at a high level like Iowa State can. They are really efficient.

Elite Eight

This is where Duke's run ends this year. Duke plays shitty defense at times and are susceptible to guards who can get in the lane and teams that can rebound well. That's what Iowa State does.

Final Four

Kentucky over Arizona
Villanova over Iowa State

Arizona matches up well with Kentucky, and while I don't know if I'm convinced Kentucky is a juggernaut when faced against a team with strong shooting guards and small forwards (which Arizona has), I think the inside game of Kentucky and the fact they can run four guys at Ashley and Tarczewski (who I think are kind of soft at times) will be the difference in the game. Still, Arizona has a big advantage in that I'm not sure who on Kentucky can guard Stanley Johnson. If a team is going to beat Kentucky then it will be a team that can offensive rebound (because Kentucky big men tend to give up rebounds in favor of going for the block) and has a couple wing guys that Kentucky can't guard. Trey Lyles is a versatile defender, but I'm not sure he or anyone else on the Kentucky roster can guard a true, talented small forward. Villanova will beat Iowa State because Iowa State isn't great at defense. Villanova will get three point shots based on penetration and Pinkston is going to be able to hold his own against the Cyclones inside. Villanova will be too explosive for Iowa State.

Championship Game

Kentucky over Villanova

The perimeter defense and ability to have height inside to take away Villanova's drives will be the key to this game. Kentucky sometimes focuses TOO MUCH on blocking shots, and can be exposed against good rebounding teams. Villanova can rebound well, but Kentucky has the ability to take away the mid-range game for Villanova and turn them into a team that has trouble penetrating, so they have to try and shoot over the defense. Turning Villanova into a jump shooting team only is one way to beat them.