Need some last minute bracket help? You’ve come to the right place!
Round of 64
(1) North Carolina vs. (16) Texas Southern
Look, it’s been a weird year in sports. The Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals with the unanimous MVP, the Chicago Cubs snapped a 108-year drought to win the World Series. The New England Patriots overcame a 25-point deficit to win the Super Bowl.
Maybe, just maybe, this is finally the year that a 16-seed upse....
I can’t even finish that. Don’t take Texas Southern.
(8) Arkansas vs. (9) Seton Hall
8 vs. 9 games are usually some of the best of the entire round, because the teams are so narrowly separated. This one should be no different. Moses Kingsley and Angel Delgado are two of the nation’s best bigs and it will be great to watch them go at it. Seton Hall’s season-long free throw woes could be something that does them in in a single-elimination type of game like this, but the Pirates are also one of the nation’s hottest teams, winning five of their last six games.
PICK: Seton Hall
(5) Minnesota vs. (12) Middle Tennessee State
Want your 5 vs. 12 upset? Look no further. Middle Tennessee has one of the most underrated offenses in the nation, and offense is the name of the game in the NCAA Tournament. Not to mention, Minnesota is criminally overseeded.
(4) Butler vs. (13) Winthrop
Butler has won at least one game in each of its last five NCAA Tournament appearances. A few people have thought this was a good upset pick because Winthrop beat Illinois, which is a bad indicator of if you should pick a team to win or not.
(6) Cincinnati vs. (11) Kansas State
Mick Cronin preaches a style of basketball that is only moderately more palatable than Virginia, and also seems to be mad pretty much all the time. Kansas State, meanwhile, looks to keep the streak of First Four teams winning at least one NCAA Tournament game alive. Easy choice, here.
PICK: Kansas State
(3) UCLA vs. (14) Kent State
The Bruins are dynamic and incredibly fun to watch and if you haven’t seen them yet this year prepare to really enjoy watching them. If you go to their KenPom profile, the neon green of the offense section will cause you to don sunglasses. They also have a very good Basketball Dad™ in LaVar Ball, Lonzo’s father, who I can guarantee you have heard of. Their coach, Steve Alford, is also a Basketball Dad™ but the less we talk about him the better.
UCLA is going to win. UCLA is going to score a lot of points. Watch it and enjoy.
(7) Dayton vs. (10) Wichita State
This game is a crime. Two of the darling mid-majors every March (no sarcasm there, I think I’ve taken both teams to at least the Sweet 16 in the majority of the past five years) get stuck playing each other? We won’t even get in to how underseeded Wichita is.
In fact, Wichita’s drastic underseeding is what will probably lead to the Shockers winning this game. The Shockers have lost just once since Christmas, the only non-Gonzaga team in the nation to be able to say that.
Dayton won 24 games to get matched up with a 30-win 10-seed. It’s absurd.
Pick: Wichita State
(2) Kentucky vs. (15) Northern Kentucky
This is really a rough matchup for the Norse, who are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. While Kentucky hasn’t been the Kentucky of old this year, they’re still a dang good team.
Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox are going to have a field day.
Round of 32
(1) North Carolina vs. (9) Seton Hall
Look, the Pirates have Angel Delgado. He’s great.
But UNC’s bigs... man. Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks are monsters. I don’t think Seton Hall matches up particularly poorly with the Tar Heels, but I think UNC still has an edge by 7-9 points.
(4) Butler vs. (12) Middle Tennessee State
Chris Holtmann gets the Bulldogs to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2010 thanks to strong play from Kelan Martin and Kamar Baldwin.
(3) UCLA vs. (11) Kansas State
The strain of playing three games in five days catches up to the Wildcats, as the Bruins run the Wildcats out of the gym.
(2) Kentucky vs. (10) Wichita State
A couple years back, these two teams played one of the best games of the NCAA Tournament when the Wildcats got the upper hand and ended the Shockers’ undefeated season. Look for Wichita to return the favor this season, as Gregg Marshall’s bunch continues to play with a chip on their shoulder due to their underseeding.
PICK: Wichita State
(1) North Carolina vs. (4) Butler
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs run into the same problems that the Pirates will have ran into at this point: no answer for UNC’s bigs. The Big East gets another team to the second weekend, though, so it’s a net positive for the conference at the end of the day.
(3) UCLA vs. (10) Wichita State
The Shockers fall just short as UCLA’s offense proves, yet again, to be too much to handle.
Don’t worry too much about Wichita, though. They’ll be back next year, and the year after, and the year after that. So on and so on.
(1) North Carolina vs. (3) UCLA
Blue Bloods! This will mark just the third time UNC and UCLA have faced off in an NCAA Tournament, and the stakes will be incredibly high. It’s a tough call, but I think UNC gets the slight edge due to the fan support they’ll have at Memphis’ FedEx Forum. The perks of being a #1 seed. The Tar Heels head back to the Final Four for the second straight year. UNC takes care of Louisville in their first game in Phoenix before falling to the Villanova Wildcats (again) in the title game.
Region Winner: UNC