The 2018 NCAA Tournament begins with the First Four on Tuesday night, and will continue through April 2.
Virignia is the top overall seed, and my bracket prediction is that the Cavaliers will win the whole thing. UVA and Villanova have been college basketball’s clear top two this season, and I can’t imagine anyone will fault you for picking either one.
If you’re looking for a bracket prediction, here’s mine. I don’t really know what’s going to happen, but neither do you, so don’t @ me:
Here is my reasoning, which, LOL, yeah I don’t know:
Bracket prediction 1: Virginia and Villanova will meet in the National Championship
Again, Villanova and Virginia have been the best two teams in college basketball this season, and I feel pretty comfortable taking them as my two championship finalists. Virginia can score (21st in offensive efficiency, per KenPom) and has the best defense in the country. It’s time for Tony Bennett’s team to quiet the haters and bring home a March Madness title. Or at least, I really, really want them to.
Bracket prediction 2: Virginia, Villanova, Michigan State and North Carolina in the Final Four
Two No. 1 seeds, a No. 2 seed and a No. 3 seed satisfies my desire to not pick a field full of No. 1s. I think Michigan State is totally capable of a deep tournament run because it has the talent to run with anyone and the balance of quality offense and defense and inside and outside scoring to go up against just about anyone. North Carolina looks excellent these days, and I think the Tar Heels will be able to get past Michigan and Gonzaga in the West Region (and I think Xavier won’t play UNC, but more on that later).
Bracket prediction 3: Four First-Round upset picks:
No. 12-seed South Dakota State over No. 5-seed Ohio State
No. 12-seed New Mexico State over No. 5-seed Clemson
No. 11-seed Loyola Chicago over No. 6-seed Miami
No. 11-seed St. Bonaventure over Florida
Why: Well, I had to pick some, so here they are. Upsets are always a crapshoot, but these seemed to be the best bets. South Dakota State shoots threes well and has a superb star in Mike Daum, so I like the Jackrabbits over Ohio State. I like New Mexico State over Clemson because both teams have outstanding defenses, and upsets can be born out of low-scoring games. I like Loyola Chicago because I’m totally buying into the hype of a team with a solid defense that can also shoot the lights out (13th in 3-point percentage, eighth in effective field goal percentage). I like St. Bonaventure to beat UCLA in the First Four and then Florida in the First Round for reasons I can’t explain.
Bracket prediction 4: Xavier will be the first No. 1 seed to go down
Per a few advanced stats rankings, Xavier is the clear No. 4 out of the No. 1 seeds. KenPom has the Musketeers as the No. 15 team in the country, behind each No. 2 and 3 seed, a No. 4 seed and a No. 5 seed. That’s enough for me to predict an early exit, so I’m going all-in and predicting Xavier loses to Missouri in the second round. I don’t really think this will happen, but I think Gonzaga is good enough to beat them in the Sweet Sixteen, so why not swing for the fences?