Selection Sunday has come and gone and we now officially have brackets to fill out. In this week’s edition of Bracketology, I will lay out my final four picks, my cinderella upset picks, and high seeds that are going home early.
🏆NCAA TITLE FAVS
N Carolina +900
Mich St 15/1
Texas Tech 30/1
Iowa St 50/1
Florida St 60/1
Kansas St 80/1
Virginia Tech 80/1
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) March 18, 2019
North Carolina (National Champion)
Despite a loss to Duke in the ACC Championship game, I really like this UNC team. The have a veteran team led by Cam Johnson and Luke Maye which has proven to loom large in om tournaments past. Freshman point guard, Coby White, should be hungry to redeem himself after a less than stellar ACC Championship Game. I like UNC to win it all.
Michigan (National Runner-up)
The Wolverines have been one of my favorites all season and fortunately they won’t have to play Michigan State until the Final Four. Like North Carolina, Michigan has a ton of experience coming off a National Championship appearance a year ago. Leading perimeter performer Chris Mathews looks to be healthy and ready to go for the tournament.
Duke (East Region Champion)
No question Duke enters as the favorite, but I like Michigan to defeat them in the Final Four. Duke’s inability to make three pointers could be there downfall and I like to favor team with experience over teams full of freshman. I like Duke to defeat Michigan State in the East regional final.
Tennessee (South Region Champion)
Do you trust Virginia to get it done? I don’t. Even in a weak region, I will take the toughness of Tennessee over the South one seed Virginia. The forward combination of Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield is tough to match. The Vols will need Jordan Bone or Lamonte Turner to step up at the guard position for this prediction to hold water.
New Mexico State (12 Seed Midwest)
New Mexico State is the best team no one is talking about. They won 30 games and have a balanced attack. The Aggies have eight guys that play at least 15 minutes per game and more importantly I think they have a favorable draw to get to the Sweet 16. I will fade Auburn and Kansas has been disappointing since losing Legerald Vick for the season due to personnel reasons.
Belmont (11 Seed East)
My campaigning for non-power six teams to get a chance to dance has officially paid off. Belmont will play and beat Temple Tuesday evening to earn the right to play Maryland Thursday afternoon. I’m not a fan of Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon at all and think Belmont can win that game as well. Don’t be surprised if Yale beats LSU in that mini east region pod making Belmont to the sweet 16 a virtual lock. I love this team and I think they will take full advantage of their opportunity.
Iowa State (6 Seed Midwest)
Iowa State is on fire right now after winning the Big 12 tournament. The Cyclones also have a favorable draw to reach the elite 8 as I do not trust Midwest two seed Kentucky. Marial Shayock is playing as well as any guard in the country. I have Iowa State defeating Ohio State, Houston, and Kentucky before losing to North Carolina in the Midwest Regional Final.
Florida State (4 Seed West)
Like the South, The West is far from a sure thing for top seeded Gonzaga. I love the Seminoles of Florida State to knock off Gonzaga in the Sweet 16. Florida State has just 7 losses on the season in a very tough ACC and are peaking at just the right time. The Seminoles boast a tough and physical backcourt featuring Terrance Mann and Trent Forrest. Florida State’s also presents a tough matchup for Gonzaga’s potential lottery pick Rui Hachimura in Mfiondu Kabengele. Kabengele stands 6’10, leads the Seminoles in scoring, and gives Florida State a strong presence inside. Look for Florida State to have a deep run.
🚨 ACC TOURNAMENT UPSET 🚨
No. 12 Florida State beats No. 2 Virginia to advance to the Final! pic.twitter.com/sjPi0v5CQr
— ESPN (@espn) March 16, 2019
Gonzaga (1 Seed West)
I always have a hard time handicapping Gonzaga come bracket time so I usually fade. They should be given tremendous props for being a non-power six school that is able to schedule a top notch out of conference schedule, but the problem is they go months without being tested in the West Coast Conference. I think it’s very hard to just flip a switch in high level sports even for a team as talented as Gonzaga. This was proven in their conference championship game as they. Gonzaga isn’t in my Final Four.
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) March 18, 2019
Auburn (5 Seed Midwest)
Auburn has been hot and cold all year and I don’t expect that to change now. The Tigers should be a hot pick after dismantling Tennessee Sunday afternoon in the SEC Championship game. I think New Mexico State is a sleeping giant in the Midwest region and Auburn will be going home early.
Houston (3 Seed Midwest)
Houston is a typical bully in the college basketball world. They run inferior competition into the ground. Even though victories over Oregon and LSU look better of late, Houston came up small against Cincinnati in the AAC title game Sunday. I also think Houston has a tough second round matchup against a red-hot Iowa State team.
Kentucky (2 Seed Midwest)
I just don’t think Kentucky is deep enough to sustain a deep tourney run. They also have a relatively tough draw in the bottom portion of the Midwest region having to play Houston or Iowa State to advance to a regional final. I also anticipate Seton Hall beating Wofford and Seton Hall does have a head to head victory over Kentucky in non-conference play. The committee did the Wildcats no favors this season.