The NCAA “Final Four” tournament embodies everything that the NCAA football championship does not. A bracket-style tournament that gives us a true national champion makes it the most exciting college sporting event in the world. So yeah, take that bowl games!
If you stuck with our picks for the first four rounds of
the tourney, then we're sorry (you can scroll down to see for yourself). We headed into the Sweet Sixteen with a 410 on our ESPN bracket, good
enough to be in the top 30%. After two more rounds we had a 450 and
dropped to the bottom 30% (bottom 21% to be specific). Our picks were so bad, we predicted zero,
count them, ZERO of the current teams left. But seriously, if you had VCU making it to the Final Four in your bracket, please leave your e-mail in the comment section below, we will be hitting you up for tonight's Lotto numbers. So out of sheer determination we're going to try this again, but we don't blame you if you pick the total opposite. Redemption here we come!
Final Four Predictions:
4. Kentucky vs. 3. University of Connecticut
This match-up is weird, but not VCU vs.
Butler weird. I don't think anyone really expected Kentucky to make it
this far because they had to beat the No. 1 and 2 seeds in their region
(Ohio State and North Carolina) to get here. UConn is a little less
surprising. For the Huskies to do well in the tourney their star player
Kemba Walker had to shine and he has, averaging 27 points, 7 assists,
and 5 rebounds a game. These teams played each other once at the
beginning of the season in the Maui Invitational and Kentucky couldn't
stop Walker so it seems like the smart thing to do is to pick UConn. I'm
hesitant because doing that gives Kentucky yet another opportunity to
make a mockery out of my prediction skills and it is sort of upsetting
to get made a fool of by anything having to do with that ass backwards
state, especially three times in a row. Then again, my bracket is
pretty much fucked at this point so I don't really have much cred left
to lose if the Wildcats take it out behind the barn and shoot a husky to
win this. UConn is the only team that I correctly picked to be in
the Final Four in my own bracket so I'm sticking with them. I know that
I picked SDSU to beat them in my Sweet Sixteen picks on this site but
that's just because Derek made me do it. Just kidding. Sort of.
11. VCU vs. 8 Butler
What the fuck? An 11 seed vs. an 8? When VCU beat Florida St. I said “they're going to get beat by 40 in the next round.” Butler beat the Florida team I had going all the way (along with San Diego State; Jeff is right, I did make him pick them). Now that I think about it, I shouldn't be pissed, the state of Florida should be. But who doesn't love a good underdog story? Normally I would love this game, but considering these are two defensive minded teams, it's probably going to be a snooze-fest except for people in Virginia and wherever the hell Butler is, and for those who get hard-on's watching seamless transitions from zone to man-on-man defense. Full court press? I just came. On a serious note though, the fans of VCU should be thanking me, because I picked them to lose in every single round, meaning my reverse psychology bracket is really paying off for you. And I'm going to do it one last time. I predict the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams will make it to the championship game by predicting the Butler Bulldogs will win this game.
Sweet 16 Predictions:
1. Ohio Stat vs. 4. Kentucky
For a second there I thought
I should've gone with the ol' Princeton white boy pick 'n' roll in my
first round picks, but Kentucky snuck out of their game against the
Tigers with a two point win. They put away West Virginia in the second
round with relative ease so now they're meeting up with Ohio State in
Brick City. Ohio State came out strong against Texas San Antonio and
even stronger against George Mason, putting up nearly 100, which is
fairly rare in the tourney. The Buckeyes still look like frontrunners
but have a way harder path to the championship than, say, those
charlatans known as the Kansas Jayhawks. This game won't be easy and
they might have to tangle with North Carolina too. Either way, I'm
sticking with them for another round or two at least.
Prediction: Ohio State
11. Marquette vs. 2. University of North Carolina
thought Syracuse was good but apparently the Big East was mostly a sham
conference this year. The Golden Eagles of Marquette slid past them so
now they're pitted against North Carolina. The Tar Heels haven't looked
super great this tournament so this might be a contest, but really all
UNC has to do is tighten up on defense and they should be able to
weather the storm. Marquette has had a good run but I think (and hope,
for the sake of my own bracket) that it ends here.
Prediction: North Carolina
1. DUKE vs. 5. ARIZONA
this game makes me nauseous because I wanted Michigan to beat Duke so God damned bad last round and they almost did. But noooo. Fuck Duke. But
they'll still probably win. Ugh.
3. University of Connecticut vs. 2. San Diego State University
Probably the most
interesting matchup of the Sweet 16 for the East or West regions, this
is also a total toss-up. For reasons not entirely clear to me UConn is
in the West, and this game is played in Anaheim, about an hour away from
SDSU. So, that means it's basically an away game. Here's a stat to
mull over: since 1990, UConn is 0-7 in games played in the opponent's
home state. UConn's Kemba Walker is still the best player on the floor
in this game but SDSU is going to be a handful. Move aside, Huskies.
Prediction: San Diego State
4. Wisconsin vs. 8. Butler
We're just going to assume that our predictions from the first round carried us through the second. I picked Wisconsin but thought Butler would be a first round exit. Here I am with mud on my face, but while Butler may be the consummate underdog, the Badgers need this more. Wouldn't it be great to see the blue collar people of Wisconsin get a break from all the anti-worker crap they've been dealing with and just escape into basketball. Or wait! Maybe this is just all part of the Koch brothers conspiracy to get people to forget about how they're being screwed. Nah, that would just be crazy, right?
2. Forida vs. 3. BYU
One of the most exciting matchups in the Sweet 16, and two teams I predicted to be here at this point. That said, I also expect the Jimmer juice to wear off the deeper they go, and without Brandon Davies, it will be easier to isolate Fredette the better the competition becomes. Florida is also looking for revenge, since BYU knocked them out of the tourney last year. I'm actually riding the Gators all the way to the Final Four. Besides, which side to you think God's on; the team who's star acknowledged having pre-marital sex, or the school where Tim Tebow went? If you just said, 'isn't Tim Tebow God?' you know what I'm talking about.
1 Kansas vs. 12 Richmond
You know who picked Richmond to advance to the Sweet 16? This guy, that's who. And I want to pick them in this game too, but I'm scared as hell to do it. I want to believe the duo of Kevin Anderson and Justin Harper can keep the Spiders on their Cinderella run right past the No. 1 Jayhawks and into America's heart. Especially with all that has gone wrong with Spiderman the musical, the arachnid needs a much needed PR boost. But I just don't see it happening, Kansas is bigger and more athletic and seems poised for a deep run.
10. Florida State vs. 11. VCU
Parity strikes the NCAA tournament in its first matchup of a 10 and 11 seed in the Sweet 16. Not to mention two teams I didn't have making it past the first round. I mean, come on, Florida State? Is the ghost of Bobby Bowden coaching this team? It's a matchup of a scoring powerhouse in VCU and the defensive minded Seminoles, and as the old saying goes, defensive wins championships. If this were the NIT, you could probably say that about this game. Instead, it's defense wins the right to get slaughtered in the next round.
Prediction: Florida State
First Round Predictions:
1. Ohio State vs. 16. Texas San Antonio or Alabama State
State's opponent is still to be determined based on who wins a play-in
game between the UTSA Roadrunners and the Alabama State Hornets.
Whichever team wins that is just going to get demolished by Ohio State
though so it doesn't really matter. OSU is by most accounts the best
team in the country right now and a favorite to win the tournament.
Their only real weakness is depth so they could have problems with
fatigue, injury, or foul trouble, but are a good bet to go at least to
the Final Four.
Prediction: Ohio State
8. George Mason vs. 9. Villanova
ol' 8 seed vs 9 seed game, the most evenly matched of them all. Usually
these ones are pretty hard to pick but this one is made more
straightforward by the fact that Villanova sucks. They stumbled
backwards into the tourney after losing 5 straight at the end of the
year (in fairness 4 of those were against ranked teams). George Mason
all the way.
Prediction: George Mason
5. West Virginia vs. 12. Clemson
March Madness is fun because
of upsets. You never really know what’s going to happen, and even
college basketball obsessives can have their brackets ruined in the
first round (which is now called the second round). Clemson won their
play-in and they could potentially take down WVU. But, West Virginia
has some pretty good wins over ranked opponents on the season, so I’m
picking WVU. If you have a passion for meaningless risks or aren’t
betting any money then maybe go for Clemson here.
Prediction: West Virginia
4. Kentucky vs. 13. Princeton
tempting to pick Princeton here just for kicks, but there's just no way
it's gonna happen. Kentucky finished strong and has some pretty good
wins on the season. Princeton also finished “strong” but lost to Brown
one time. I mean, come on. Fucking Brown.
6. Xavier vs. 11. Marquette
is sort of a toss-up but Xavier has played a strong schedule and their
point guard, Tu Holloway, is pretty good, averaging 20 points a game. Marquette is mediocre.
3. Syracuse vs. 14. Indiana State
know if you've ever been to Indiana before but it is a terrible state. Therefore, a college called Indiana State must also be terrible. Syracuse started the season really strong but got a little shaky in
January, including a blow-out loss at Seton Hall. Either way, they
shouldn't have a problem disposing of the Sycamores.
7. Washington vs. 10. Georgia
Pac 10 good? Does anyone know? It doesn't seem very good. The Huskies
score a lot of points (#2 overall behind Oakland) and have a pretty high
seed but they don't really have any marquee wins at all except against
Arizona, another Pac 10 team. Georgia beat Kentucky one time and
generally had a way harder schedule. Washington isn't used to the
physicality and also has to fly across the entire country to play. Maybe
it'll be an upset. Upsets are fun.
2. University of North Carolina vs. 15. Long Island University
not only does Long Island University exist, it has a basketball team
and is in the tournament this year. They are playing North Carolina,
which is one of the best and most storied programs in college basketball
so they are in trouble. In fairness to LIU, though, they kind of got
screwed on this one. First off, this game takes place in Charlotte, NC
which is like a home game for UNC. Also, LIU has the longest win streak
in the country, most road wins of any team, and is 4th in points per
game in Division 1. If they stay competitive in this game then they
have a strong case that they got overlooked for a 14 seed or higher, but
if not then they have a strong case that their conference just sucks.
Prediction: North Carolina
1. Duke vs. 16. Hampton
you know Duke is the only university in the country where you can get a
graduate degree in being a douchebag? It's true. If it wasn't bracket
suicide I would have them losing this game but, alas, they will win.
Just like always. Hampton's season was riddled with losses against
8. Michigan vs. 9. Tennessee
For some reason a
bunch of Big Ten teams got higher seeds than they probably should've or
thought they were going to. That either means that the conference was
better than it seemed like or they are all just overrated. Either way,
Michigan was on a roll at the end of the year and lost close games to
some serious competition throughout the season. Tennessee is a mixed
bag, and looks pretty mediocre on paper. I'm from Michigan though so
that whole paragraph was just an attempt to shroud my huge Michigan bias
5. Arizona vs. 12. Memphis
potentially overrated conferences, here we have the Pac 10's best team
paired up with Memphis, who used to be really good but are now just
vaguely okay. This is a sort of tempting pick for an upset but Memphis
got blown out by UTEP and also lost to East Carolina. Arizona will
probably handle them easily.
4. Texas vs. 13. Oakland
A lot of the
people who read this website will be in Austin (where University of
Texas is) for this game, so if you end up having to bullshit it with a
cop while they are searching your van for drugs or giving you a ticket
for falling asleep on the sidewalk then you can talk about this. You'll
want to pretend that Texas will win no problem but that might not
actually happen. Oakland has the most point per game of any team in
Division I, and is 5th overall in rebounds. Their center, Keith Benson,
will probably go pro. Upsets are fun.
6. Cincinnati vs. 11. Missouri
will be a popular upset pick this year, partly because Cincy got
destroyed by Notre Dame in the Big East tournament. They've also lost
to pretty much every really good team they've played. Mizzou played
Kansas pretty close towards the end of the season and had a solid year
so maybe they'll win. Who knows. They play a really fast style that
most teams will have trouble adapting to.
3. Connecticut vs. 14 Bucknell
has a good record but UConn is on fire right now. They won 5 straight
to end the year, 4 of which were over top 25 teams. Kemba Walker is
averaging 23 points a game, so as long as everyone else just hits a
random 3 here or there then they'll make it look easy.
7. Temple vs. 10. Penn State
There are some
teams that I always pick in my bracket for no real reason. Temple is
one of those teams. Maybe it's because they are the Owls, which is a
funny name, and their old coach also looked sort of like an owl. Anyway, it has really hurt me over the last few years. I'm doing it
again, though, because I think Penn State is overrated. One thing that
could tip the balance is that Temple's new, non-owl resembling coach has
the worst NCAA tournament record in history.
2. San Diego State University vs. Northern Colorado
exactly a classic match-up, but SDSU is really good this year. They've
never won a game in the NCAA tournament, but look for them to make a
run through a fairly easy region. Forward Kawhi Leonard averages a
double double in points and rebounds per game and their only losses on
the year came at the hands of BYU back before Brandon Davies enraged
Mormon God and got kicked off the team.
1. Kansas vs. 16. Boston U
This is one of the few 1 vs. 16 matchups that carries some excitement. Boston U. has won 11 straight, and is actually riding a longer winning streak than the Jayhawks. Then again, two of the Terriers' three losses this season came against ranked opponents by an average of 20 points. Needless to say, don't look for a Cinderella story here, Kasas is looking to avenge their first round knockout last year at the hands of Northern Iowa with a deep run this season. Expect a quick start.
8. UNLV vs. 9 Illinois
Time to throw some stats at you. Illinois is 2-8 in games decided by six points or less. Not a good stat to have in a game where the spread sits at about 1. After reading that info on a blog, I have decided that the Illini are going to lose this game. That, and the fact they lost another 5 games in the regular season by more than 6 points.
5. Vanderbilt vs. 12. Richmond
I have a confession: I love rooting for teams that I don't know where they hail from. Case in point, Vanderbilt. If you're from a big city (Nashville) in a big conference (the SEC) and people don't know where you are, sadly, you're probably not that good. Vandy's not that bad actually, but their conference is helping in the rankings, because they had a worse record than the Richmond Spiders did this year. Wait a minute, who the hell are the Richmond Spiders?
4. Louisville vs. 13. Morehead St.
See above and then add Morehead St. to places I have no clue where they are on a map. Turns out this is an in-State rivalry in good ol' Kentucky. Besides knowing nothing about Morehead, Louisville is playing some of their best basketball of the season — that's even including their 3-point loss in the Big East finals. Expect the Cardinals to make it a few rounds at least.
6. Georgetown vs. 11. USC/VCU
Would someone please explain to me a bracket system where the team who had to win a play-in game just to make the tournament gets to play a number six seed, while five teams in this bracket alone who made it into the 64 team tourney without a play-in game have to play harder opponents? Shit's whack.
3. Purdue vs. 14. St. Peter's
A little inside scoop, I got Purdue going really deep this year, possibly all the way to the Final Four if the matchups fall right. So I don't expect them to lose to a St. Peter's team who is seeded worse than the winner of the play-in game. See what I mean? Whack.
7. Texas A&M vs. 10. Florida St.
This is a trap game, especially for people who follow stats. Texas A&M is clearly the better team, but have struggled offensively this year, especially near the end of the season when they averaged just 59.2 points in their last five Big 12 contests. Add to that a Florida State team who held their opponents to 36% shooting from the field — best in the nation — and you have a game a lot of people will take the underdog. Except for this sucker. My motto is you don't bet against teams with Texas in their name in the first round.
Prediction: Texas A&M
2. Notre Dame vs. 15. Akron
I would love to see Notre Dame get spanked in this game. I don't really have a reason for that desire. Maybe it's the underachieving great white hopes they pump out annually. Or maybe it's because Akron is representing the Mid-American conference that I once belonged to so many years ago. Maybe it's because I love an underdog. I also love the thought of a number two seed getting bounced in the first round in back to back seasons. Alas, a man can dream.
Prediction: Notre Dame
1. Pittsburgh vs. 16. UNCA
This game is so one sided, Google's not even recognizing Pitts opponent. Even the experts are calling this a warm up. Who am I to disagree with the experts?
8. Butler vs. 9 ODU
Forget the fact Butler came within a shot of winning the national championship last year. Or that both of these teams are riding nine game winning streaks including their respective conference championships. When you hear Old Dominion and Butler, don't you just imagine some old ass Jim Crowe-era racism? It's just a name association thing, sounds all Gone With the Wind or something. So I'll go with the team that's actually from a southern State (Virgina's below the Mason Dixon line, right?)
Prediction: Old Dominion
5. Kansas St. vs. 12. Utah St.
Another trap game, Utah actually comes in as the favorite in many people's eyes. Kansas was lucky to get a five seed, while Utah was a 30-game winner and feature two dominant forwards in senior Tai Wesley and junior Brady Jardine. But something about Kansas speaks to me. Again, I'm citing no reason, just a gut feeling. I'm riding the purple wave.
Prediction: Kansas St.
4. Wisconsin vs. 13. Belmont
Badgers? Badgers!? We don't need no stinking badgers.
6. St. John's vs. 11. Gonzaga
This is the game I'm looking forward to watching the most in the first round. St. John's received a high seed for it's wins over highly ranked teams this season even though they were an early exit in the Big East tournament. Gonzaga meanwhile is a perennial fan favorite who won the WCC title. Gonzaga is shooting almost 50% from the floor while St. John's plays an aggressive zone defense with a lot of full-court press. I'm totally being a homer and taking St. John's, but I wouldn't put money on this game if my life depended on it.
Prediction: St. John's
3. BYU vs. 14. Wofford
Who doesn't love BYU? They got the Jimmer and that other dude who got dismissed for having consensual sex with his girlfriend. Turns out that dude was their best low-post player Brandon Davies, and their once promising Final Four hopes now ride squarely on Jimmer Fredette's shoulders. Enjoy the 40 or so he'll drop on Wofford, because I don't see BYU lasting too long without their post presence.
7. UCLA vs. 10. Michigan St.
Another game where many experts are predicting the lower seed will advance, and you can count me in with those experts. What Michigan State lacks in consistency they make up for when they play well. They could arguably hold their own with any team in the country, and certainly a UCLA who went 22-10 and lost in the first round of the Pac-10 tourney. Then again the Spartans never won more than two straight games in conference play this season. Lucky for Tom Izzo and the boys, they only need to win this one to advance.
Prediction: Michigan St.
2. Florida vs. 15. UCSB
Florida went 26-7 this season while UC Santa Barbara went a paltry 18-13. But UCSB won their conference championship while Florida lost to Kentucky in the SEC finals. What does it all mean? Florida starts their return to prominence with an easy win over UCSB while Tim Tebow looks on and laments Brandon Davies sexcapades.