The NCAA Tournament is finally actually here after those play-in games, and we the basketball experts at HOTSPROTSTAKES.com are here to offer up our TAEKS on the madness.
Find out who we think will win it all, who will pull the biggest upset, or who we think is this year’s Cinderella team! Or just bookmark this and come back to roast us when all these picks are wrong following the Final Four.
Highest seed to pull off an upset: No. 13 Winthrop, No. 13 East Tennessee
Double-digit seed to make Sweet 16: No. 12 Middle Tennessee State
Final Four: Gonzaga, Villanova, Kansas, Kentucky
Title Game: Gonzaga, Kansas
National Champion: Gonzaga
RON EXPLAINS: This is the year for Gonzaga dammit. This is their best team ever, hands down. By any metric they are the best team in the country, and rather than just try to shoot people out of the gym, they actually play defense. If they don’t do it this year, they never will. And it’s a fairly easy region too, so it’s all set up for them to at least make the Final Four. Also, I don’t have this on my bracket but I think Rhode Island could be a sneaky pick to make the Elite 8. I have way too many upsets on my bracket, but if I hit on some of them, I can brag about getting them right while ignoring the ones I miss.
Highest seed to pull off an upset: No. 14 New Mexico State, No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast
Double-digit seed to make Sweet 16: No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast
Final Four: Arizona, Villanova, Louisville, UCLA
Title Game: Arizona, UCLA
National Champion: UCLA
JAMES EXPLAINS: This is a lot of feeling-based conjecture on my part, if we’re being honest, especially with the double-digit seeds. FGCU just feels way too dangerous to ignore, especially with the games being in nearby Orlando. As for the Final Four, Kansas/Lville was difficult. I feel like Kansas is the most complete team, but I didn’t want to go straight chalk and Kansas will be without perhaps it’s best player in Josh Jackson. I am also partial to West Coast teams being able to advance, due to the Final Four being in Glendale this year. I also believe UCLA is just a better team than Arizona and should be able to dispatch the Wildcats despite it being a practical away game.
Highest seed to pull off an upset: No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast
Double-digit seed to make Sweet 16: No. 10 Wichita State
Final Four: Villanova, Arizona, North Carolina, Kansas
Title Game: Villanova, North Carolina
National Champion: North Carolina
WALSH EXPLAINS: REMAAAAAATCH. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen back to back title games feature the same teams, and this year seems like our best bet to have that happen. UNC will be out for blood after last year’s crushing loss at the buzzer, and I think that they’ll take down Villanova and cut down the nets in Houston. Also, Michigan went on an incredible run to win the Big 10 last weekend, and got screwed with a 7 seed for their efforts. After surviving an insane situation in which their plane to Indy ran off the runway, the Wolverines are playing with a nothing to lose attitude that carries weight come tournament time. Other double digit seeds that could make deep runs: Rhode Island, Nevada, Marquette.