Expert Brackets: Reviewing Top Analysts' Picks for 2014 NCAA Tournament

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2014

CHAPEL HILL, NC - JANUARY 26:  ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale does a live broadcast before a game between  the North Carolina Tar Heels and the North Carolina State Wolfpack  at the Dean Smith Center on January 26, 2012 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. North Carolina won 74-55.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The beauty of March Madness is that fans around the globe can utilize a bevy of expert opinions to help formulate a quality bracket.

Of course, nobody's bracket will be perfect thanks to the nature of the proceedings and the surefire variety of upsets that will inevitably reign terror on the spectacle. However, pooling the takes of some of the globe's best collegiate basketball minds is not a horrendous idea.

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After all, the experts likely have more experience and surely have seen more games from each of the teams in the bracket than a normal human could ever hope to.

Some of the top minds have turned in their official brackets, which means it's time to pool resources and make something happen before the deadline.

Jay Bilas, ESPN

Jay Bilas' Final Four Picks
Final Four Prediction
Sat, April 5 (4) Michigan State Over (2) Kansas
Sat, April 5 (4) Louisville Over (2) Wisconsin
National Championship Prediction
Mon, April 7 (4) Michigan State Over (4) Louisville

Young Jeezy superfan Jay Bilas just so happens to be one of college basketball's greatest minds, and his predictions point out an emerging narrative: Tom Izzo's Spartans are healthy and set to make a serious run.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 16:  Branden Dawson #22 of the Michigan State Spartans dunks against the Michigan Wolverines during the 2014 Big Ten Men's Championship at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 16, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/G
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Michigan State recently got star forward Branden Dawson back, which helped to propel the team to a Big Ten title and a No. 4 seed. With Dawson in the lineup, the Spartans are 20-3 and 6-2 against the top 50.

Bilas plays it safe with Izzo's squad against Louisville (another No. 4 seed—nice effort, selection committee), citing the Spartans as the best team in the land when healthy.

He's far from alone in that regard.

Bilas' picks with full explanations can be found on ESPN Insider (subscription required).  

Dick Vitale, ESPN

Dick Vitale's Final Four Picks
Final Four Prediction
Sat, April 5 (4) Michigan State Over (1) Florida
Sat, April 5 (4) Louisville Over (1) Arizona
National Championship Prediction
Mon, April 7 (4) Michigan State Over (4) Louisville

In fact, the legend himself agrees with Bilas, as do most of ESPN's experts, as WLNS-TV sports anchor Kevin Gehl points out:

Dick Vitale's bracket is interesting, with a few notable upsets. In the Midwest, he has No. 8 Kentucky taking down No. 1 Wichita State, an increasingly popular selection provided the Wildcats are getting hot at the right time.

Feb 22, 2014; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks center Joel Embiid (21) celebrates after scoring in the first half against the Texas Longhorns at Allen Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

He also has No. 7 New Mexico over No. 2 Kansas, which makes sense considering there is not one person on the planet—the team itself included—that can figure out the Bluejays. The status of Joel Embiid is key, and there is no promise he'll make it off the bench at 100 percent this month.

Overall, Vitale yet again comes to sensible conclusions that are worth closer examination.

Vitale's bracket can be found at DickVitaleOnline.com.   

Seth Davis, Sports Illustrated

Seth Davis' Final Four Picks
Final Four Prediction
Sat, April 5 (1) Florida Over (4) Michigan State
Sat, April 5 (1) Wichita State Over (2) Wisconsin
National Championship Prediction
Mon, April 7 (1) Florida Over (1) Wichita State

Unlike Vitale, Seth Davis has the Shockers emerging from their round of 32 bout with the Wildcats, and cited their excellent guard play as the reason:

In a move that may surprise many, Davis loves the Shockers so much he pencils them in as getting past both Louisville and Michigan before making it to the Final Four.

It's certainly a tough notion to get behind thanks to the committee posting Witchita State in what is by far the best region in recent memory thanks to the likes of Kentucky, Kansas State, Louisville, Duke and Michigan.

Regardless, Davis' joyride for the Shockers ends in the final, where the Florida Gators eventually go on to hoist the trophy.

That too is a popular notion making the rounds.

Davis' bracket can be found here.

Jeff Borzello, CBS Sports 

Jeff Borzello's Final Four Picks
Final Four Prediction
Sat, April 5 (1) Florida Over (3) Iowa State
Sat, April 5 (4) Louisville Over (1) Arizona
National Championship Prediction
Mon, April 7 (1) Florida Over (4) Louisville
CBS Sports

Jeff Borzello is with Davis in his support of the Gators, which makes sense considering Billy Donovan's squad went a stellar 32-2 with an undefeated mark in SEC play this season.

Borzello lists other goods that should make even the most adamant anti-Gators fan out there reconsider his or her bracket:

They're unbeaten with their current roster, and have shown the ability to beat teams in multiple ways. They're experienced, they're balanced, they have depth -- and they are one of the best defensive teams in the country. Moreover, they seem to limit mistakes and don't allow teams to go on big, game-changing runs at key junctures.

Of course, Borzello is also a major fan of the healthy Spartans:

Although that fandom ends in the Elite Eight, as Borzello has Michigan State suffering a setback against the unheralded No. 3 Iowa State Cyclones, an under-the-radar team fresh off a title run in the Big 12 tournament.

While a bit different in its path, Borzello's bracket also rolls with the top team in the land as the eventual winner of the 2014 edition of the Big Dance.

All things considered, that's not a bad way to go.

Borzello's bracket can be found here.

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