It's tourney time, baby!
Yes, your productivity at work is going to wane. Yes, you'll suddenly care deeply about colleges you've never even heard of before. Yes, your bracket will become your precious and you'll clutch it and talk about it like Gollum discussed the ring.
Hopefully, you won't become green and sickly because of your bracket, but you never really know.
Anyway, that gruesome image aside, you're probably looking for as much information on the tournament as you can get. Well, folks, you've come to the right place. Below, you'll find a bracket, odds and a few of my bolder predictions for this year's tournament.
|Odds to Win 2014 NCAA Tournament|
|San Diego State||75/1|
|North Carolina State||1,000/1|
|North Dakota State||1,000/1|
I'm not going to predict individual regions or the like here. That wouldn't be very bold, and you can get that type of analysis in any old article about the tournament. In fact, you've probably already read thousands of those articles already.
But before we get to the bolder stuff...
Louisville Will Repeat as Champions
They are one of the nation's most efficient teams on both ends of the court, they have a go-to scorer in Russ Smith, they have the experience of winning it all last year and, you know, that Rick Pitino fella is pretty good at his job.
This season feels like a year when about eight different teams could win it all, so I understand if you think picking a No. 4 seed crazy. But I've got a feeling about this Louisville team, and I'm sticking by it. Now, for the more random predictions.
Andrew Wiggins Will Top 30 Points Twice
The Kansas superstar has really come into his own late in the season, and I think he'll continue to score at will once the NCAA tourney begins. Of course, the eventual return of Joel Embiid means Wiggins might have to get all of those points in the first two rounds, as Wiggins has assumed a bigger role in the offense with Embiid sidelined.
Without Embiid, Kansas isn't going to win a national championship. With him, I'm not sure my bold prediction will come true. Either way, the big man is the key to this tournament, and Wiggins would surely prefer he return.
Villanova and Wichita State Will Disappoint
Villanova has a strength of schedule ranked 45th in the nation and one win over an RPI top-25 team (Kansas). Wichita State has a strength of schedule ranked 108 and—you guessed it—one win over an RPI top-25 team.
Both teams are talented, no doubt, but neither team has proven they can consistently beat top teams. And Seton Hall may have provided a template for beating Villanova after knocking them out of the Big East tournament.
While [Sterling] Gibbs’ shot was the shining moment from Thursday’s upset, the way the eighth-seeded, 17-16 Pirates defended Villanova was more interesting. They held ‘Nova to 4-of-19 shooting from beyond the arc, choosing to play single coverage against big men JayVaughn Pinkston and Daniel Ochefu in the post while refusing to help off of the Wildcats’ long range shooters, and running them off the line when they did catch the ball.
“You have to pick your poison,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said, “and we decided to let [the bigs] go to work and try to take away the other guys’ threes.”
Villanova coach Jay Wright saw it mostly the same way. “They just gave us the inside game,” he said. “They were smart, they said we’re going to give [the shooters] lanes to the basket, but we’re not gonna give them threes.”
The strategy limited Nova's shots from beyond the arc, and to be fair, the Wildcats didn't shoot the ball very well when they had open looks. They play solid defense as well, which will help them in the tourney.
All of that to say, Nova could still go on a run. But with only the win over Kansas really sparkling on their resume, bet on them to do so at your own peril.
Either Kentucky or North Carolina Will Go on a Deep Run
I'm not sure which team will pull off the feat, but one of them will. There is too much talent on either side to not make some noise in March, but both sides have been inconsistent and underachieving enough that I don't trust them both.
Kentucky has more raw talent and has played a brutal schedule, so they would be my pick, though North Carolina has fared better when faced with tough competition. We'll see which one emerges, but one of them will.
Doug McDermott Will Hit an Iconic, Game-Winning Shot
Because, honestly, he's done pretty much everything else an individual could do at the college level.