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

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 18, 2014

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 30: ESPN Analysts Jay Bilas during the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery on May 30, 2012 at ABC News 'Good Morning America' Times Square Studios in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Dow/Getty Images

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
Florida vs. Albany/Mount St. Mary'sFlorida
Colorado vs. PittsburghPittsburgh
VCU vs. Stephen F. AustinVCU
UCLA vs. TulsaUCLA
Ohio State vs. DaytonOhio State
Syracuse vs. Western MichiganSyracuse
New Mexico vs. StanfordNew Mexico
Kansas vs. Eastern KentuckyKansas

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
Florida vs. PittsburghFlorida
Syracuse vs. Ohio StateSyracuse
Kansas vs. New MexicoKansas

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
Florida vs. UCLAFlorida
Kansas vs. SyracuseKansas

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
Florida vs. KansasKansas

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
Arizona vs. Weber StateArizona
Gonzaga vs. Oklahoma StateOklahoma State
Oklahoma vs. North Dakota StateNorth Dakota State
San Diego State vs. New Mexico StateSan Diego State
Baylor vs. NebraskaNebraska
Creighton vs. Louisiana-LafayetteCreighton
Orgeon vs. BYUOregon
Wisconsin vs. AmericanWisconsin

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. 

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 14:  Terran Petteway #5 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Walter Pitchford #35 celebrate in the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Quarterfinals of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 1
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
Arizona vs. Oklahoma StateArizona
San Diego State vs. North Dakota StateSan Diego State
Creighton vs. NebraskaCreighton
Wisconsin vs. OregonWisconsin

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
Arizona vs. San Diego StateSan Diego State
Wisconsin vs. CreightonWisconsin

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.

SAN DIEGO, CA - MARCH 08:  Head coach Steve Fisher of the San Diego State Aztecs cuts down the net as reward for winning the MWAC and acknowledges the fans after winning the game against the New Mexico State Lobos at the Viejas Arena on March 8, 2014 in S
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
Wisconsin vs. San Diego StateWisconsin

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
Wichita State vs. Texas SouthernWichita State
Kentucky vs. Kansas StateKentucky
Saint Louis vs. NC StateNC State
Louisville vs. ManhattanLouisville
UMass vs. IowaIowa
Duke vs. MercerDuke
Texas vs. Arizona StateTexas
Michigan vs. WoffordMichigan

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
Wichita State vs. KentuckyWichita State
Louisville vs. NC StateLouisville
Duke vs. IowaDuke
Michigan vs. TexasMichigan

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. 

ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 8: Dorrian Williams #23 of the Missouri State Bears looks to pass the ball against Ron Baker #31 of the Wichita State Shockers during the MVC Basketball Tournament Semifinals at the Scottrade Center on March 8, 2014 in St. Louis, Mis
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
Wichita State vs. LouisvilleLouisville
Michigan vs. DukeDuke

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
Duke vs. LouisvilleLouisville

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
Virginia vs. Coastal CarolinaVirginia
Memphis vs. George WashingtonMemphis
Cincinnati vs. HarvardHarvard
Michigan State vs. DelawareMichigan State
North Carolina vs. ProvidenceNorth Carolina
Iowa State vs. NC CentralIowa State
UConn vs. St. Joseph'sSt. Joseph's
Villanova vs. MilwaukeeVillanova

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. 

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 7: Guard Ryan Arcidiacono #15 of the Villanova Wildcats dives for the ball along with guard Evan Maschmeyer #0 of the St. Joseph's Hawks defending on December 7, 2013 at Hagan Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitc
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
Virginia vs. MemphisVirginia
Michigan State vs. HarvardMichigan State
Iowa State vs. North CarolinaIowa State
Villanova vs. St. Joseph'sVillanova

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
Virginia vs. Michigan StateMichigan State
Villanova vs. Iowa StateIowa State

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
Iowa State vs. Michigan StateMichigan State

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
Kansas (South) vs. Michigan State (East)Michigan State
Wisconsin (West) vs. Louisville (Midwest)Louisville

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.

MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 14: Russ Smith #2 of the Louisville Cardinals shoots a freethrow against the Houston Cougars during the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament at FedExForum on March 14, 2014 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joe Murp
Joe Murphy/Getty Images

National Championship

Bilas' National Championship Prediction
Louisville vs. Michigan StateMichigan State

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. 

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 16:  Gary Harris #14 of the Michigan State Spartans celebrates during the 69-55 win over the Michigan Wolverines  during the finals of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 16, 2014 in Indianapolis,
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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