Struggling to finish that upper right hand chunk of your bracket? Let us help you out.
Round of 64
(1) Villanova vs. (16) Radford
The play-in game is a pretty cool concept for a program like Radford. The Syracuses of the world probably hate it, but Radford has to appreciate the opportunity to win an NCAA Tournament game, beating LIU-Brooklyn on Tuesday night. And as a reward, the Highlanders get to square off against Villanova! Almost feels like a punishment.
(8) Virginia Tech vs. (9) Alabama
Alabama’s Collin Sexton is so good that he almost led his team to a victory while playing 3-on-5 for much of the second half earlier this year – seriously. A likely NBA lottery pick, Sexton will lead the Tide past Virginia Tech in the Round of 64.
(5) West Virginia vs. (12) Murray State
Make no mistake about it – Murray State is legit. This game has the making of a March classic with upset potential. Murray State is led by star guard Jonathan Stark and hasn’t lost a game since January 18. In the end, Murray State prevails as its guards skillfully navegate the high-pressured West Virginia defense and the Racers win the rebounding battle.
Pick: Murray State
(4) Wichita State vs. (13) Marshall
I’ll be honest, I didn’t do any research on this game – I just picked Wichita State. *Insert shrug emoji
Pick: Wichita State
(6) Florida vs. (11) St. Bonaventure
The nameless and faceless writer of this regional breakdown is a huge believer in the NCAA Tournament trends reflected by each program. Florida is a team that rarely gets upset. Last year, the Gators made a surprising run to the Elite Eight before falling to South Carolina. Expect the Bonnies to make it a close game, but Florida comes out on top.
(3) Texas Tech vs. (14) Stephen F. Austin
Few teams in the tournament are as confusing as Texas Tech. The Big XII was confusing this year in general, but the committee was favorable to the folks down south. The Raiders captured the 3-seed, but will they capture a win? This writer says, “NO.”
It feels like a cliche to pick SFA for an upset at this point, and as a fellow Big East Coast Bias contributor reminded me, Brad Underwood ain’t walkin’ through that door. However, Stephen F. Austin forces a lot of turnovers and scores off those turnovers. The Lumberjacks also have experienced players who have won tournament games before. ‘Jacks in the upset!
Pick: Stephen F. Austin
(7) Arkansas vs. (10) Butler
On paper, these two teams look quite similar. This has the makings of a tightly-contested battle. However, experienced bracketeers will pick this game correctly based on one of the central tenets of filling out a March Madness bracket: Butler doesn’t lose in the Round of 64.
(2) Purdue vs. (15) Cal State Fullerton
Cal State Fullerton was a joy to watch in the Big West Tournament. The Titans are athletic and play with a chip on their shoulder. Fullerton will keep it close for the first 15 minutes, but the Boilermakers ultimately pull away for a comfortable win.
Round of 32
(1) Villanova vs. (9) Alabama
Does Collin Sexton do it again!? Nope. Villanova is just too good for the Tide.
(12) Murray State vs (4) Wichita State
This is a really intriguing match-up. Neither team will overpower the other with athleticism or talent. However, Wichita State is one of a handful of teams that should keep Murray State off the glass and the Shockers will ultimately bury the Racers with ball movement.
Pick: Wichita State
(6) Florida vs. (14) Stephen F. Austin
What did we say last round? Florida rarely gets upset. After what should be a grueling win against Texas Tech, Stephen F. Austin won’t have the legs to effectively defend the Gators two days later. Lumberjacks get eliminated in the Round of 32 again.
(10) Butler vs. (2) Purdue
A Big East blog picks Butler to beat Purdue! How predictable, right? Well, this pick is guided by more than bias. Butler got lit up by Purdue’s guards and outside shooting when the Boilermakers beat the Dawgs earlier this season. Since then, Butler has learned how to lock down defensively on the perimeter. This game will hinge on whether or not Purdue’s big men can dominate in the paint enough. I don’t think they will.
(1) Villanova vs. (4) Wichita State
Villanova is just really good.
(6) Florida vs. (10) Butler
Butler struggles to defend two types of teams: Teams that have dominant big men and teams that move the ball very well. Florida doesn’t fit either criterion, and Butler should be able to keep the Gators below 80 points and win the game. Paul Jorgensen goes off and hits five threes because why not?
(1) Villanova vs. (10) Butler
As if it could have ended any other way! A Big East battle in the Elite Eight! Could you imagine? Butler has proven this year already that it can beat Villanova. In doing so, the Bulldogs also proved that they have to play an essentially perfect game to beat Villanova by a slim margin. This one will be closer than the Big East Tournament slaughter, but Villanova comes out on top and advances to the Final Four!
Region Winner: Villanova!