Jay Bilas' Bracket: Analyzing His Every Pick of the 2014 Tournament

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Jay Bilas' Bracket: Analyzing His Every Pick of the 2014 Tournament
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ESPN analyst Jay Bilas is one of the most respected minds in college basketball, but how much respect does his NCAA tournament bracket deserve?

 

South Region

Jay Bilas' South Region Second-Round Predictions
Matchup Winner
Florida vs. Albany/Mount St. Mary's Florida
Colorado vs. Pittsburgh Pittsburgh
VCU vs. Stephen F. Austin VCU
UCLA vs. Tulsa UCLA
Ohio State vs. Dayton Ohio State
Syracuse vs. Western Michigan Syracuse
New Mexico vs. Stanford New Mexico
Kansas vs. Eastern Kentucky Kansas

ESPN

Bilas did disappoint lovers of upsets with his second-round projections in the South region. 

The former Duke player stayed to chalk with just one exception, No. 9 Pittsburgh over No. 8 Colorado.

That pick is far from an upset since the Buffaloes and Panthers are basically even on talent, but Pitt does have a slight advantage since Colorado's best player, Spencer Dinwiddie, is out for the season. 

Bilas did not fall in love with No. 12 Stephen F. Austin, who gained some momentum as a popular upset pick on Sunday night throughout social media. 

He is also not worried about a sluggish Syracuse or a Kansas team without Joel Embiid during the first game for each team. 

Bilas' South Region Third-Round Predictions
Matchup Winner
Florida vs. Pittsburgh Florida
UCLA vs. VCU UCLA
Syracuse vs. Ohio State Syracuse
Kansas vs. New Mexico Kansas

ESPN

In the third round, Bilas sticks to chalk once again by picking No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Kansas, No. 3 Syracuse and No. 4 UCLA.

Normally, people take at least one risk with their Sweet 16 teams and forget the seedings, but not Bilas

He believes UCLA can break the VCU press to set up a matchup with Florida, who has an easy draw in its part of the bracket. 

Bilas also looked past the recent struggles of Syracuse and Kansas to pair them together in the Sweet 16. 

Bilas' South Region Sweet 16 Predictions
Matchup Winner
Florida vs. UCLA Florida
Kansas vs. Syracuse Kansas

ESPN

In the two Sweet 16 games, Bilas selected Florida and Kansas to move on, both of which are sensible decisions. 

It is hard to pick against Florida at the moment and Kansas should have a healthy Embiid back in time for the second weekend of games. 

Bilas' South Region Final Prediction
Matchup Winner
Florida vs. Kansas Kansas

ESPN

Bilas does not have enough faith in top-seed Florida to advance them to the Final Four though as he delivered a minor shock by picking the Jayhawks to advance to Arlington. 

 

West Region

Bilas' West Region Second-Round Predictions
Matchup Winner
Arizona vs. Weber State Arizona
Gonzaga vs. Oklahoma State Oklahoma State
Oklahoma vs. North Dakota State North Dakota State
San Diego State vs. New Mexico State San Diego State
Baylor vs. Nebraska Nebraska
Creighton vs. Louisiana-Lafayette Creighton
Orgeon vs. BYU Oregon
Wisconsin vs. American Wisconsin

ESPN

Bilas opted to pick three lower seeds in second-round play in the West region: No. 9 Oklahoma State, No. 12 North Dakota State and No. 11 Nebraska. 

Picking Oklahoma State is a very wise choice as Marcus Smart has been playing with a chip on his shoulder every since he returned from his three-game suspension. 

Nebraska surprised many people in the Big Ten this season, but playing a red-hot No. 6 Baylor team may end its season, but not in the mind of Bilas

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The most eye-popping upset in the West region, according to Bilas' bracket, will come from the Bison of North Dakota State over No. 5 Oklahoma. 

This is a very underrated upset pick, but it is one that more people should be paying attention to in the days leading up to the second round.

Bilas' West Region Third-Round Predictions
Matchup Winner
Arizona vs. Oklahoma State Arizona
San Diego State vs. North Dakota State San Diego State
Creighton vs. Nebraska Creighton
Wisconsin vs. Oregon Wisconsin

ESPN

With Oklahoma out of the way, Bilas chose No. 4 San Diego State to cruise into the Sweet 16 against No. 1 Arizona, who he thinks will dispense of Oklahoma State. 

That game could potentially be dangerous for the Wildcats, but they should have enough talent to get past Smart and the short bench of the Cowboys. 

Bilas is confident in No. 2 Wisconsin to take care of business close to home in Milwaukee against a No. 7 Oregon side that is peaking at the right time. 

He also believes that No. 3 Creighton will defeat in-state rival Nebraska in a game that could end up being one of the best in the tournament, if it happens. 

Bilas' West Region Sweet 16 Predictions
Matchup Winner
Arizona vs. San Diego State San Diego State
Wisconsin vs. Creighton Wisconsin

ESPN

The first major shock from Bilas' bracket comes in the Sweet 16 of the West region as he has San Diego State moving on to play Wisconsin, instead of Arizona. 

The Aztecs flew under the radar once again this season, but they should not be discounted when it comes down to this stage of the tournament.

Kent Horner/Getty Images

Steve Fisher has plenty of big-game experience from his time at Michigan and that should help the Aztecs, led by Xavier Thames, past the Wildcats.

Bilas' West Region Final Prediction
Matchup Winner
Wisconsin vs. San Diego State Wisconsin

ESPN

San Diego State's run in March is predicted to end at the Elite Eight, per Bilas, as he has Wisconsin heading to the Final Four. 

This is a smart, but unpopular, choice in the West region, but once you look at how good of a defensive team the Badgers are, you will be quick to join Bilas on their bandwagon.

 

Midwest Region

Bilas' Midwest Region Second-Round Predictions
Matchup Winner
Wichita State vs. Texas Southern Wichita State
Kentucky vs. Kansas State Kentucky
Saint Louis vs. NC State NC State
Louisville vs. Manhattan Louisville
UMass vs. Iowa Iowa
Duke vs. Mercer Duke
Texas vs. Arizona State Texas
Michigan vs. Wofford Michigan

ESPN

Bilas believes that both No. 11 Iowa and No. 12 NC State will win in Dayton at the First Four and use that momentum to take down No. 6 UMass and No. 5 Saint Louis. 

Other than those two upsets, Bilas does not surprise us in the Midwest region second round as he thinks that all the heavy hitters will advance. 

It is hard to not pick No. 8 Kentucky over No. 9 Kansas State and it is quite easy to advance the likes of No. 1 Wichita State, No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Duke and No. 4 Louisville given their play in the regular season.

Bilas' Midwest Region Third-Round Predictions
Matchup Winner
Wichita State vs. Kentucky Wichita State
Louisville vs. NC State Louisville
Duke vs. Iowa Duke
Michigan vs. Texas Michigan

ESPN

With his third-round predictions, Bilas denies us of an all-Kentucky game in the Sweet 16 with his choice of Wichita State over Kentucky. 

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The potential Cinderella runs of NC State and Iowa also come to an end at this point in the tournament, according to Bilas, with Duke and Louisville taking care of business. 

He also likes Michigan to defeat a Texas team that raised plenty of eyebrows in the Big 12 this season in what was supposed to be a down year for the Longhorns.

Bilas' Midwest Region Sweet 16 Predictions
Matchup Winner
Wichita State vs. Louisville Louisville
Michigan vs. Duke Duke

ESPN

In the Sweet 16, Bilas has Wichita State losing its first game of the season to defending champion Louisville, while Duke takes down Michigan. 

One has to think that the Duke pick was made with the recent performances of freshman Jabari Parker in mind. 

Bilas' Midwest Region Final Prediction
Matchup Winner
Duke vs. Louisville Louisville

ESPN

In case you haven't heard this yet, Louisville is a hot team and deserved better than a No. 4 seed.

Bilas is of the understanding that the Cardinals are the best team in this bracket and that Rick Pitino's team will prove the selection committee wrong by advancing to the Final Four. 

 

East Region

Bilas' East Region Second-Round Predictions
Matchup Winner
Virginia vs. Coastal Carolina Virginia
Memphis vs. George Washington Memphis
Cincinnati vs. Harvard Harvard
Michigan State vs. Delaware Michigan State
North Carolina vs. Providence North Carolina
Iowa State vs. NC Central Iowa State
UConn vs. St. Joseph's St. Joseph's
Villanova vs. Milwaukee Villanova

ESPN

Bilas predicts another upset by a No. 12 seed in the East region with Harvard taking down No. 5 Cincinnati in the second round. 

The only other lower seed Bilas has going through to the third round in the East is No. 10 St. Joseph's. 

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Picking Phil Martelli's team and No. 2 Villanova to advance sets up a Big Five rivalry game in Buffalo, which is something that fans of Philadelphia basketball will love. 

Bilas' East Region Third-Round Predictions
Matchup Winner
Virginia vs. Memphis Virginia
Michigan State vs. Harvard Michigan State
Iowa State vs. North Carolina Iowa State
Villanova vs. St. Joseph's Villanova

ESPN

All of the top four seeds in the East should be safe to reach the Sweet 16, according to Bilas, as he thinks that No. 1 Virginia will beat No. 8 Memphis and that No. 4 Michigan State will defeat Harvard.

Bilas is also in favor of sending No. 3 Iowa State into the second weekend of the tournament with a victory over No. 6 North Carolina. 

Villanova is a stronger team than St. Joe's, per the ESPN analyst, as he has the Wildcats moving on to play Iowa State. 

Bilas' East Region Sweet 16 Predictions
Matchup Winner
Virginia vs. Michigan State Michigan State
Villanova vs. Iowa State Iowa State

ESPN

If Bilas' predictions about the Sweet 16 results are true, the top two seeds will vanish from the tournament at this stage. 

Bilas has Michigan State playing Iowa State in the Elite Eight, which given the Spartans' popularity of late isn't a shocker. 

Iowa State is an underrated team to watch out for as it is battle tested out of the Big 12 and possesses plenty of talent led by DeAndre Kane, Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim.

Bilas' East Region Final Prediction
Matchup Winner
Iowa State vs. Michigan State Michigan State

ESPN

Lining two teams from the two best conferences in college basketball this season up against each other in the Elite Eight is a juicy proposition for any fan of the sport. 

In this game, Bilas sends Michigan State to Arlington, and who wouldn't do the same after its showing at the Big Ten tournament? 

 

Final Four

Bilas' Final Four Predictions
Matchup Winner
Kansas (South) vs. Michigan State (East) Michigan State
Wisconsin (West) vs. Louisville (Midwest) Louisville

ESPN

Bilas picked the two hottest teams in the nation, Michigan State and Louisville, to advance on to the national championship game, which is a prediction that is hard to disagree with. 

The Spartans may just be too much for Kansas as they have plenty of experience and depth all around the court, while the Jayhawks are primarily a young team. 

It is hard to bet against Russ Smith in a clutch situation, which is why Bilas is high on Louisville, who also has a strong paint presence in Montrezl Harrell.

Joe Murphy/Getty Images

 

National Championship

Bilas' National Championship Prediction
Matchup Winner
Louisville vs. Michigan State Michigan State

ESPN

Bilas is riding the Michigan State bandwagon all the way to the finish as he thinks the Spartans will cut down the nets after the final buzzer sounds. 

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Most college basketball pundits have said that when healthy, the Spartans are the team to beat because they can hit you from every angle of the court with a knockout punch. 

That will be the case against Louisville, per the former Duke player, as he believes that Tom Izzo will win his second national championship. 

 

Note: Bilas' entire bracket can be viewed on ESPN.com with an Insider subscription.

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