March Madness is here! I ended the college basketball regular season and conference tourneys with a 58.82%-win rate ATS and plan to get that percentage higher during this exciting time. Let’s break down each region and who I see as emerging to the Final Four.
East Region: Two Number 1's Here
The East bracket is where I have my first number one seed losing out, as I believe either Wisconsin or Virginia have what it takes to take down Villanova should they meet in the second round or in the Sweet Sixteen. With Providence and USC playing in the 11-seed play in the game, either team will have momentum as they match up with the mercurial SMU Mustangs. For that reason, I'm looking for SMU to get bounced early as well. The other double-digit seed that could pull off an upset is Marquette over South Carolina. But it is in the bottom bracket that I see a clear path for the Duke Blue Devils to reach the Final Four, as I'm looking for Villanova not to be there once they reach the Elite Eight over Baylor.
West Region: Gonzaga's Time to Shine
The Bulldogs look to have great matchups in the first two rounds, so it is not until a potential Sweet Sixteen match-up with Notre Dame or West Virginia that I see them being challenged. Gonzaga enjoys a distinct size advantage over both of those teams in the front court, so that is a wager on Gonzaga I will likely take. I see seeding holding in this bracket for the first round and no upsets to be had, even if I will be looking to take VCU and North Dakota as point-spread underdogs. If seeds do hold we will be looking at the 2nd Arizona versus Gonzaga matchup of the year, and the Zags already beat the Wildcats once this season. This is Mark Few's best roster ever, and the clearest path to the Final Four is with the Bulldogs.
Midwest Region: Dangerous Sweet 16 Group
This region has one of the most unpredictable top 4 seeds in the bracket, as I see 1 Kansas – 5 Iowa State and 2 Louisville – 3 Oregon matchups in that round. The first round in the region looks to have very dangerous dogs, though, so I would not be surprised if our Cinderella story came out of the Midwest. Rhode Island, Nevada, and Oklahoma State all have the talent – and streakiness – to pull off an upset or two here. But in the end, I believe this region ends up with a Kansas vs. Louisville regional final for a ticket to the Final Four. I'm giving my preliminary nod to Kansas to win that game at the moment.
South Region: 12-Seed Breakthrough
This is the only region that I am taking a double-digit seed to make the Sweet Sixteen, as I love the first two potential matchups for Middle Tennessee in the South Region. Any team that has won 30 games before entering the tournament must be taken seriously. Unfortunately for them, they run into my Final Four college basketball pick coming out of the South in North Carolina in the round of 16, so the fun should end there. The bottom of the bracket has some potential weirdness if Kentucky doesn't play up to its potential, as a second-round matchup with Wichita State could come up with an upset and I will look to take the underdog ATS there. I do have Kentucky getting past that round, though, where a marquee matchup with UCLA should await. This should be a very entertaining game, but won't be the last of Lorenzo Ball's career, as I have the Bruins getting bounced by North Carolina in the Elite Eight to reach the Final Four.
Final Four Prediction: Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, North Carolina