Gazing into our crystal ball we see four teams bound for glory who will emerge from the Madness and will ultimately be the right school to back in our NCAA Men’s Basketball picks for 2015.
Kentucky hails from the Midwest region and though I would like to go all contrarian and choose an upset here it would be fool’s gold and I will have none of it. This is an historic squad and the first in Kentucky’s storied basketball history to finish the regular season with a perfect record. This team is built to go the distance unlike the Wichita State Shockers of last season who finished with a 34-0 regular season record but bowed in the Round of 32 to - who else - the Kentucky Wildcats.
Let us remove any discussion of this number one seed getting knocked off in the opening round and move on to their inevitable drubbing of either Purdue or Cincinnati. Once they advance to the Sweet 16 they will most likely meet number four seed Maryland. Now the Terps are an interesting team. They reeled off eight consecutive victories and covered the NCAA Tournament odds in six of those eight until they ran into Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans where they bowed 62-58 and failed to cover the number as three-point underdogs (although the NCAA odds did climb to four late in some shops giving both sides a push) late last week. This squad could give the Wildcats something to think about but alas, they too shall become just a bump in the road where the Cats will ultimately mow down the Jayhawks in the Elite Eight as they did earlier this season in a 72-40 rout.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Kentucky Wildcats
Top seed Villanova will dispense with Lafayette but will then run headlong into a Wolfpack from NC State. Yes, Villanova will not be long for this year’s tournament but NC State’s celebration will be short-lived as Louisville, with veteran coach Rick Pitino roaming the sideline, will be too much once they defeat Wyoming after the Cowboys upset Northern Iowa on Friday afternoon (currently installed as six-point underdogs).
From the bottom of the bracket the Oklahoma Sooners, and not the University of Virginia Cavaliers, will meet the Cardinals in the Elite Eight. Pitino has been there and done that when it comes to NCAA Tournament success and that will tip the balance in Louisville’s favor in this one as our NCAA Tournament pick.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Louisville Cardinals
Wisconsin as the number one seed in the West region gets much love from this address. The Badgers have gone 16-1 straight up and 4-1 ATS down the stretch including an absolute thrashing of then #23 Ohio State in hostile territory by the score of 72-48. As of this writing they are 19 ½ point favorites in NCAA odds over Coastal Carolina in the opening round. Lay it and like it because the Badgers could very easily duplicate their dominating performance against the Buckeyes a little over a week ago.
On the other side of the West we have the Baylor Bears who will get to meet Wisconsin due to their relentless rebounding and solid defense. Of course they will have to get past the sharpshooting Arizona Wildcats but I believe the Bears are up to the task. Once we have this Elite Eight matchup the Badgers will prove worthy of their number one seed and move on to the Final Four.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Wisconsin Badgers
I realize by picking the Duke Blue Devils I am looking like a chalk eater but their road to the Final Four will only be interrupted if they fall to Iowa State. The Cyclones will have little problem on their journey until they meet Gonzaga but I’m not a fan of this year’s edition of the Zags. Iowa State opens up as the #3 seed in the South and should have little trouble covering the 13 ½ point impost the odds makers are tagging them with against their first round opponent #14 UAB.
At the end of the day we should see the Devils lay waste to the Cyclones and advance to the Final Four. Their journey should not be as difficult as other number one seeds but ultimately they will meet the Beast of the East bracket where Rick Pitino and his Cardinals will be waiting.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Duke Blue Devils
NCAA Tournament Finals: Wisconsin 73 – Louisville 59