Round of 64
(1) Oregon vs. (16) Holy Cross/Southern
While Holy Cross and Southern are set to play their play-in game tonight for the opportunity to face Oregon on Friday, this one is pretty cut and dry as a sixteen seed has never beaten a one seed. While it is possible, it is more then unlikely to happen. Look for Oregon to go through to the next round.
(8) Saint Joseph's vs. (9) Cincinnati
This is going to be a fun one. Most 8-9 games are a toss up to predict and given the nature of these two teams, could go down to the final minutes of play. Admittedly though I like Saint Joe's chances to pull this game out thanks in part to the play of DeAndre Bembry and Isaiah Miles, two players who have anchored the Hawks attack this season. Whoever takes this is going to put up a tough fight against Oregon in the next round and the potential to go even further.
Pick: Saint Joseph's
(5) Baylor vs. (12) Yale
Yale are making their first appearance in the tournament since the heady days of 1962. Back when only 25 teams made the tournament. The Bulldogs lost to Wake Forest in overtime in the first round of that tournament and fifty-four years later are back at with a first round match up against the Bears of Baylor. While this could be an unbearable game for Yale, there is historical precedent for the twelve seeds playing spoiler to the hopes of five seeds. Baylor as a whole more or less limped to the finish line this season after a strong early start. I do believe that Yale could put up a tough fight against the Bears, but in the end it looks to be Baylor who will be sauntering on to the next round.
(4) Duke vs. (13) UNC Wilmington
It may be trendy/drink the Kool-Aid to pick against Duke come tournament time, which I can say I have been at fault for, but this game is a bit of a spicy meatball. Yes, Duke are anchored by the play of Allen and Ingram who will be making a case for top pick in the upcoming NBA draft with his play in the tournament, and this is the last ride for Marshall Plumlee, but Duke this season have been odd to witness. They either look composed or are playing with a rattled composure holding on against North Carolina State. There is also history here as well, as there have been 25 13 seed over 4 seed upsets in tournament history. Wilmington does have its flaws as a team, especially in averaging 71.4 points allowed and their high point wins of this season was two wins against Hofstra. While these might be limitations I am still going to stand by pick and go with Wilmington for the upset.
Pick: UNC Wilmington
(6) Texas vs. (11) Northern Iowa
Another spicy meatball on the menu that is the west region is this affair between the Longhorns of Texas and the Panthers of Northern Iowa. Over there last thirteen games, Northern Iowa only lost once which was to Loyola-Chicago. Texas on the other hand had to deal the final throws of the gauntlet that was the Big XII. Admittedly I like Northern Iowa in this game, and believe that they can hang with what Texas will throw at them namely the play of Isaiah Taylor and Kerwin Roach, Jr. They are a tough team the Panthers, as they fought off Wichita State and Evansville for the MVC title, they will be anchored in this game by the play of Wes Washpun.
Pick: Northern Iowa
(3) Texas A&M vs. (14) Green Bay
The Aggies will take care of Green Bay. The Phoenix had a great season but might be a bit overwhelmed but what Texas A&M will be bringing to this game. In the end it will be A&M moving onto the next round.
Pick: Texas A&M
(7) Oregon State vs. (10) VCU
Will Wade has his team primed for March as the Rams look poised to take this one to Oregon State. The Beavers have Gary Payton, Jr. waiting in the wings for this game. I like VCU in this game, there three pronged attack of Melvin Johnson, JeQuan Lewis, and Justin Tillman might be enough to win the day.
(2) Oklahoma vs. (15) CSU Bakersfield
This game should be pretty cut and dry with Oklahoma moving onto the the Round of 32 with relative ease. Bakersfield might show flashes here and there during the game, but the Sooners might put this one away sooner rather then later.
Round of 32
(1) Oregon vs. (8) Saint Joseph's
This one was a tough one to pick as Saint Joe's does have the potential to upset the Ducks, potentially sending home the first one seed of the tournament. Both teams appear to be fairly even with regards to statistics from this season, especially in terms of team averages for points per game and rebounds per game. I am going to pick Saint Joseph's, but would not be surprised if Oregon does in fact edge this one out.
Pick: Saint Joseph's
(5) Baylor vs. (13) UNC Wilmington
Unfortunately for Wilmington there ride comes to an end against Baylor as it will be an unbearable time against the Bears. Wilmington won't be able to keep up with the pace that Baylor moves the ball.
(11) Northern Iowa vs. (3) Texas A&M
Northern Iowa's run in the tournament comes to an end against A&M as Jalen Jones proves to be just too much for the Panthers to handle. Northern Iowa does give a bit of fight early on, but will fade as the game progresses.
Pick: Texas A&M
(10) VCU vs. (2) Oklahoma
The trio of Johnson, Lewis, and Tillman put up a tough fight for VCU, but in the end Oklahoma is just too much to handle as Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins, and Ryan Spangler hit their stride from the onset. The Sooners roll on into the next round.
(8) Saint Joseph's vs. (5) Baylor
The last time Saint Joseph's made it to the Sweet Sixteen, was also the same year that they ended up playing in the Elite Eight, that was 2004. While the teams are different, the coach remains the same as Phil Martelli has been in this situation before. Once again Saint Joe's will be finding themselves moving on to the Elite Eight as they defeat Baylor in a close affair. Bembry has one of his best and most memorable games of the tournament.
Pick: Saint Joseph's
(3) Texas A&M vs. (2) Oklahoma
This might end of being one of the best games of the tournament as former Big XII foes clash on the floor of the Honda Center in Anaheim. In the end it will be Oklahoma walking away in a close and rather uncomfortable win. The Aggies give everything that the Sooners can handle. This is going to be a fun one for sure, the winner of this game will be a serious final four contender.
(8) Saint Joseph's vs. (2) Oklahoma
Unfortunately Saint Joe's run through the west comes to an end an against Oklahoma as the Sooners prove to be the toughest team in the west. Hield once again shows us why he is one of the best players in the country, as he is backed up by Spangler. Saint Joe's does put up a fight in this game, especially as Bembry continues to keep up his play. In the end its Oklahoma making a trip to Houston for the Final Four for the first time since 2002.