We have reached the land of no return. With 68 teams entered, 4 have played for their lives already; I can honestly say this year is a mind-bender. Last year, I won 3 or 4 pools, so I am a certified bracketologist. So let me start with the East region and the returning champs Villanova.
EAST: The Wildcats come in ranked number 1 in the region. With a challenging road to the Sweet 16, I like them all the way to the Elite 8. However, I think they may get a challenge from Wisconsin in the round of 32.
Duke is on a tear right now, which makes me feel like it’s one of those years where they lose immediately. But I went with my gut and took the Blue Devils to the Elite 8 as well. The team to watch is at the 11 seed right now, and that’s the USC Trojans. I think they really could make a run.
Virginia still scares me too; they have a chip on their shoulder and could really make some noise.
WEST: I have said it once and I will say it again, Gonzaga being the 1 seed means very little to me. I have the Zags going to the Sweet 16 and falling. To who though?
Well look no further than my main man Huggy Bear. That’s right, Bob Huggins once again will lead West Virginia deep in this tournament. I like this Mountaineer team especially at the 4 seed.
One of the other teams I like is Arizona. Sean Millers club looks like a complete Arizona team, and with the addition of Trier mid-season, they are a scary matchup for almost everyone. I will say this though, if Notre Dame can get by West Virginia, then I think the Irish could be a scary match-up for just about anyone.
The last team I can see making it to the Sweet 16 is Maryland. I am a fan of Melo Trimble, and I believe he will be back for his senior season. This could just be the stepping stone for next year’s Terps.Embed from Getty Images
MIDWEST: Bill Self has been the king of the Midwest region for as long as I can remember. I just don’t know if anyone can compare to them going up to the Sweet 16. This is a Big 12 theme, as I think we could see the Cyclones from Iowa State meet the Jayhawks, but they will have a tough test in upset minded Vermont Catamounts, who I love against Purdue.
I don’t care about injuries either, Dillon Brooks is a top 5 player in the country, and I think he gets Oregon to the Sweet 16. I think a second round matchup between Louisville and Michigan; a national title rematch will serve a test for who Oregon will see in the Sweet 16.
SOUTH: You are out of your mind if you don’t have seeds 1, 2 and 3 going to the Sweet 16. UNC, Kentucky and UCLA are on a freight train from hell right now, and they are on a collision course for each other. SO spoiler, I have those three in the sweet 16. I like the upset in this region with Middle Tennessee and Winthrop winning, but this match-up had me pacing back and forth for about 5 minutes. These types of games are the most entertaining, let’s pray it happens. Cincinnati and Wichita State could scare some teams, but I don’t think they match-up with the Goliaths.
But before we get to the picks, heres a complimentary picture of Dickie V from a couple years ago!
So much joy, so much happiness, so much Dick Vital. So now, without further ado….HERE ARE THE PICKS!
EAST: Villanova(1), Florida (4), USC/PC (11) and Duke (2)
WEST: Gonzaga (1), West Virginia (4), Maryland (6) and Arizona (2)
Midwest: Kansas (1), Iowa State (5), Oregon (3) and Michigan (7)
South: UNC (1), Middle Tennessee State (12), UCLA (3) and Kentucky (2)
Go ahead, berate me. I like who I have in the Sweet 16. Next week is a toss-up. So try to stay handsome and happy Tourney season!