Let’s talk about the NCAA tournament, where we have 68 teams and a field full of terrible teams. We have tons of teams in the brackets with potential, but not many teams with NBA talent.
However, the NBA talent isn’t important because it’s college basketball. Teams don’t have to have NBA talent to advance a round, even two. I think there are many misconceptions about NCAA tournament teams and what’s needed to win.
Here is my look at each region and my winners.
I LOVE this region. For one, Duke isn’t in it. Also, there are a lot of good teams. Syracuse, North Carolina, Washington and Kentucky alone make me want to watch.
Then throw in Ohio State? Boom, I’m locked in. Besides the five teams I listed, this region has solid teams. Other than Georgia, all these teams have experience, and a few teams (George Mason, Villanova and West Virginia) have players who can push them for some wins.
So who wins the East bracket? Ohio State. Why? The Buckeyes have the best player in the region in Jared Sullinger. Sullinger should be able to hold down the post against any team. David Lighty and William Buford are both experienced shooters. Aaron Craft scares me because he’s a freshman point guard and isn’t a great defensive player, but he should be able to be hidden on defense.
I think North Carolina could give them a scare, mainly because of John Henson and Tyler Zeller, but I think Ohio State should be able to hold its region down.
Again, another solid set of teams. Led by Duke, this is a scary bracket for the Blue Devils, to be honest. San Diego State is an athletic team that can run the floor. Connecticut, led by star guard Kemba Walker, is a one-man team, but recent play by Jeremy Lamb and company is making me think otherwise.
Three other teams that look interesting are Texas, Memphis and Arizona. Memphis and Arizona play each other, but both have the same feel to me. I wouldn’t be shocked if this is an Elite Eight or even Final Four matchup a year from now.
Sean Miller and Arizona are slowly rebuilding the program after Lute Olson's departure and a down season. With a top recruiting class coming in, expect Arizona to be back. As for Memphis, this is more a test game for them. Let’s see if the young pups from Memphis are ready. With another top 10 recruit coming in (Adonis Thomas), as well as bringing back Josh Pastner's recruits from this past recruiting class, I see high hopes for Memphis.
Texas is a whole different beast. I've seen this team before. The Cory Joseph-Jordan Hamilton combo has been scary all season, mainly because Joseph is so poised and always under control. Tristan Thompson should be able to keep Texas solid with rebounds as well. However, this team is always lax, and that just scares me.
I went back and forth, but I lean toward Duke as my team winning the West. Yes, I’m slightly biased, but what gives them an edge to me is experience. Save Seth Curry, this team’s been in this position before. I think Kyle Singler will have every chance to get a rhythm going and, if so, he and Nolan Smith should be able to win it for the Blue Devils.
Maybe...just maybe...Kyrie Irving can come back? Now I’m asking for too much.
This is a terrible region in terms of NBA prospects. A lot of potential upsets here as well. I would call this the underachieving bracket, but that’s unfair. Pittsburgh is the No. 1 seed, and honestly I don’t know how to feel. Somehow, after losing by 20 to Kentucky, Florida is our No. 2 seed here, and BYU and Jimmer Fredette get the No. 3 seed.
Kansas State and St. John's are my sleepers, St. John’s for one reason: they slay giants. That’s it. Gonzaga should be favored in their game, mainly because of experience, but the Red Storm should win that game rather easily.
Kansas State has experience from last season, and Jacob Pullen is on a hot streak. That alone makes this bracket tough for me. Even though K-State is a sleeper, don’t sleep on No. 12 seed Utah State and No. 13 seed Belmont winning in Round 1.
You might laugh, but I’m going Florida here. Pittsburgh just has issues getting past the Elite Eight. I see the Panthers crumbling. BYU is missing Brandon Davies, and that might hurt it. I think Florida wins out because the bottom of the bracket is soft, and it can come out the bottom.
I fear one team: Michigan State. For one, it probably doesn’t belong in the tournament (another argument, another day) but head coach Tom Izzo ALWAYS gets his team ready for March. Do I think it can lose to UCLA? Yes, but odds are I can see Izzo winning that first-round game, and second-round, and third-round...
Kansas reigns supreme as the No. 1 seed. Notre Dame is the No. 2 seed with Purdue as the No. 3 seed. A lot of good defensive teams in this bracket. Florida State could pull a win over Texas A&M simply because it can just lock you down defensively. Richmond and Justin Harper could also sneak and win a game as the No. 12 seed.
The biggest wild card is Georgetown. Georgetown’s point guard Chris Wright got hurt, and the Hoyas lost four games in a row entering the tournament. If Wright can come in and lead the offense, I wouldn’t be shocked if they won a couple tournament games.
This is my shocker pick: Louisville. You making a crazy face yet? Yeah, I think the Cardinals are a sneaky team this year. Yes, they have one huge issue: They can’t rebound. However, that could be hidden with solid interior defense on the other end and a bigger lineup.
The backcourt is where I like this team. Peyton Siva is the man who can hold the key to this offense, and Preston Knowles is the upperclassman who can shoot and keep the Cardinals in games.
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