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A Complete Preview of March Madness!

BasketballNick CoppolaComment

MARCH. IS. HERE. 

The madness is set to begin this Thursday, and people are scrambling to fill out their brackets in time. Stuck on a matchup? Can’t figure out what upset to pick? I’m here to help. I have made an in-depth analysis on all 64 teams in this year's tournament field that should help you or anyone else fill out the perfect, million dollar bracket. Afterwards, you get to see my personal predictions that will without a doubt be 100% correct. Well at least that’s what I hope. So now just sit back, relax, get a pencil or a pen or whatever you use and learn all you need to know about each and every team. Enjoy! 

(P.S, The teams that lost in the First Four aren’t featured here because I just don’t care about those teams. Sorry not sorry.)


East Region


#1 Seed: Duke

Conference: ACC

Record: 29-5 (14-4 ACC)

Coming in at the number one overall seed in the nation, the Duke Blue Devils are absolutely loaded with 3 potential top 5 NBA Draft picks in Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish, and RJ Barrett. Two of those players, Zion and RJ, lead the ACC in shooting percentage. Overall the Blue Devils rank in the top 10 in both offense and defense, and are coming off an emphatic win in the ACC Tournament over Florida State to become conference champions. Expect Duke to make a long run in this tournament, they are one of the more stacked teams in recent memory. (They also have a cakewalk to the Final Four as well so they better not blow it)

#2 Seed: Michigan State

Conference: Big Ten

Record: 28-6 (16-4 ACC)

Tom Izzo comes to the tournament once again with a well-rounded team, but can the Spartans bring home their 1st national title in 19 years? They sure hope so. Joshua Langford, the second-leading scorer on the team, had a season-ending foot injury in December, but that hasn’t seemed to faze the Spartans, as they cruised to a share of the Big Ten regular season title before going on to win the Big Ten championship against their rival Michigan. Big Ten Player of the Year Cassius Winston leads the charge, leading the team with 18.8 PPG, while the team lead the conference in shooting, rebounding, and 3-PT shooting. The Spartans are flying high right now and are tagged as the team that has the best chance to knock out Duke, but can they make it count in the tournament?

#3 Seed: LSU

Conference: SEC

Record: 26-6 (16-2 SEC)

They have had some turmoil heading into March, but don’t be fooled, this team can compete with the best. They’ve survived close encounters with Kentucky, Tennessee, and Auburn on their way to a SEC regular season championship for the first time in 10 years. They can also give teams a run for their money and push them to their absolute limit, as they have been in seven overtime games this season. They can really shoot the ball too, as they have one of the most prolific offenses in the country. They’ve put up 81.4 PPG so far and have 4 players averaging double figures in points. They have a deep roster too with 7 players averaging 20 minutes on the floor each night. This team can make you work, and they’re ready to make some noise in March. 

#4 Seed: Virginia Tech

Conference: ACC

Record: 24-8 (12-6 ACC)

The Hokies can really shoot the ball well, as they are among the leaders in the nation in shooting, free throw, and 3-PT percentages. They also play with an aggressive defensive style that results in many turnovers forced while also keeping their opponents off the charity strike. Nickeil Alexander-Walker is shooting lights out so far, scoring 17.8 PPG and hitting an astounding 42.4% of threes. He also has put up a 55% FG percentage to go along with that. They are however on a bit of a slump, losing 5 of their last 11, including a disappointing loss to Florida State in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament. Don’t underestimate them though, they can score many points in a hurry if they catch you napping.

#5 Seed: Mississippi State

Conference: SEC

Record: 24-8 (12-6 SEC)

Led by Quinndary Weatherspoon (fun name btw), one of the most high-volume scoring guards in the nation, this team has plenty of players who can shoot the ball. If he’s struggling, he can hand the ball off to Tyson Carter or Lamar Peters, two more guards who average double digits in scoring. A tall backcourt led by Aric Holman compliments the shooting with plenty of rebounds to give his team more chances at the rim. They do turn the ball over a lot, but even this out with about 8 steals a game as a team.

#6 Seed: Maryland

Conference: Big Ten

Record: 22-10 (13-7 Big Ten)

A team that is very much limping into the tournament, coming off horrible opening round loss to Nebraska in the Big Ten tournament, the Terrapins have lacked consistency throughout much of the season, but they can still manage to make life difficult for their opponents. Maryland plays a nice, solid defense only giving up around 65 points a game. If their defense stands their ground, and if their two leading scorers, Anthony Cowan Jr. and Bruno Fernando, can put up some points, the Terps could end up surprising a few people.

#7 Seed: Louisville

Conference: ACC

Record: 20-13 (10-8 ACC)

Let’s all just take a moment to laugh at Louisville’s failures so far this year. They blew a 23 point lead to Duke……… at home…….. with 5 minutes left to play (Ouch). They’ve lost 8 out of their last 12 to end the season, and they’ve dropped games to conference basement dwellers like Boston College and Pitt. But they do have some strong positives. They have a strong defense that utilizes position and attacking the inside and outside of shooters to force tough, contested shots. They’ve also won 20 games despite having one of the toughest schedules in the country, something that could serve them well in the tournament. They lack consistency though, something that might come back to bite them in March.  

#8 Seed: VCU

Conference: Atlantic-10

Record: 25-7 (16-2 A-10)

VCU have a pretty well-rounded team, with 4 players averaging double digits on the scoreboard. Their leading scorer however, Marcus Evans, doesn’t look like he’ll be 100% come tournament time, as he injured his knee in the Atlantic-10 tournament. He will play however, which is good news for the Rams, who need him to help space the floor and get steals. They have good ball movement as well, something that could tire teams out early in the tourney.


#9 Seed: UCF

Conference: American Athletic

Record: 23-8 (13-5 AAC)

UCF has been one of the real surprises so far this season. After an up and down start to the season, they picked it up and beat the two top teams in the conference, Houston and Cincinnati, to close out the season, holding each team to just around 40% shooting as well. BJ Taylor is the main scoring threat and leads the team in PPG for the third straight year. While the 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall once again had more blocked shots than missed shots for the fourth year in a row. UCF could make things challenging for teams, especially in the paint with their shot-blocking and defensive abilities. And hey, if they don’t win it all, they can just claim the national title anyway, they seem really good at that.

#10 Seed: Minnesota

Conference: Big Ten

Record: 21-13 (9-11 Big Ten)

Coming off a surprising visit in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament, the Golden Gophers have almost looked like two different teams, going 12-2 in non-conference play to just 9-11 in Big Ten play. Still they have shown they can compete with top teams, beating Purdue twice this season. Another team that has 4 players averaging double-digit scoring, this team can really make you pay if you make too many mistakes.

#11 Seed: Belmont

Conference: Ohio Valley

Record: 26-5 (16-2 OVC)

Even though the Bruins were one of the last four teams in, they certainly don’t play like it. They are one of the most deadly shooting teams in the entire country. They shoot 59% of their 2-pointers and 37% of their 3-pointers. They also don’t turn the ball over a whole lot, maximizing their ability to score many, many points. They are led by Dylan Windler, who is averaging a double-double right now with 21.4 PPG and 10.7 RPG, while also shooting 43% from three-point land. He’s one of the most versatile players in the whole tournament, with the ability to beat you inside and outside. Expect a scoring bonanza when Belmont plays. They will be a tough challenge for Maryland.

#12 Seed: Liberty

Conference: Atlantic Sun

Record: 28-6 (14-2 A-Sun)

The Flames are known to take their sweet time on the offensive end, as they are one of the slowest-paced teams on offense in the country. However, this doesn’t mean their offense is terrible, as they shoot the ball pretty well and are the nation’s best at the free throw line, shooting a high 78% from there. They also have a balanced and well-rounded attack on offense, as 5 of their players have made at least 44 3-pointers this year. Whenever Liberty is involved, the game is sure to be a low-scoring, defensive nailbiter. 

#13 Seed: Saint Louis

Conference: Atlantic-10

Record: 23-12 (10-8 A-10)

The Billikens aren’t the best when it comes to shooting the basketball, but they make up for it on the other end with a top 50 defense. Saint Louis is getting hot at the right time as well, coming off a strong finish to the season that included an Atlantic 10 title. Led by senior guards Javon Bess and Tramaine Isabell Jr., the Billikens have proven that they can overcome immense odds to win big games. After all, they did win the A-10 tournament as the 6 seed. If you enjot defense, then their first round matchup with VT might be for you.

#14 Seed: Yale

Conference: Ivy League

Record: 22-7 (10-4 Ivy)

Led by Ivy League Player of the Year Miye Oni, the Bulldogs come into the tournament with an efficient scoring offense that can light up the scoreboard. They don’t force many turnovers, but get extra possessions anyway by grabbing many rebounds on both ends. They’ve had trouble closing out games in conference play, which could come back to haunt them in the tournament.  Their first round opponent, LSU, is probably the best matchup they could’ve gotten. Both teams are very similar on both sides of the ball (Both average around 81 PPG and give around 73 PPG). Yale will be a very popular upset pick, so expect a close matchup with the Tigers.

#15 Seed: Bradley

Conference: Missouri Valley

Record: 20-14 (9-9 MVC)

After a slow start to the season, the Braves come into the tournament having won 12 out of their last 16. They aren’t the best offensive team, but they make up for it with a solid defense and by controlling the tempo of the game. Their defense has to be stout and they must push the pace of the game if the hope to pull of a first round upset. They aren’t strangers in overcoming the odds, as they needed an upset of Loyola-Chicago to make it to the MVC final, but this is much more of a tall order to accomplish

#16 seed: North Dakota State

Conference: Summit

Record: 18-15 (9-7 Summit)

This team relies on the 3-point shot almost a bit too much, and the Bison will have to totally control the tempo of the game in order to even think about an upset of Duke. They are very balanced on offense and move the ball around well, but their defense will be what kills them. They aren’t great at it, nor do they force that many turnovers. They might get killed, but Virginia was the number one overall seed last year and lost, so who knows right?


South Region


#1 Seed: Virginia

Conference: ACC

Record: 29-3 (16-2 ACC)

The Cavaliers are one of the most dominant teams in the country again with one of the best defenses in the nation. They are also one of the more well-balanced teams in the nation as well, as they also rank near the top in offense too. Coming off a loss in the semifinals of the ACC tournament to Florida State, they will look to avenge their shocking loss to UMBC last year, and are hungry to make a run to the Final Four. Virginia can finish inside the paint and at the rim while Kyle Guy, De’Andre Hunter, and Ty Jerome make up a deadly three-guard trio, shooting an average of 44% from three. The Cavaliers have never won a national title in their long 113-year history, will this be the year they finally break through and win the big one?

#2 Seed: Tennessee

Conference: SEC

Record: 29-5 (15-3 SEC)

The Volunteers have spent the entire season in the top 10, and for good reason. The rank in the top 5 offenses in the country led by Grant Williams and Admiral Shofield. Tennessee has five players that average over 10 points a game, as well as being one of the more efficient free throw shooting teams in the country. They have had some bad losses this season, especially a 20-point blowout against Auburn in the final of the SEC tournament, but Tennessee is prepared to make some noise in this tournament. If anything, that loss might have sparked a fire under Rick Barnes’s team, and they’re ready to take over.

#3 Seed: Purdue

Conference: Big Ten

Record: 23-9 (16-4 Big Ten)

Even though they claimed a share of the Big Ten regular season title, the Boilermakers have been real inconsistent as of late. This includes a early exit in the Big Ten tournament, where they lost to Minnesota in the quarterfinals. However, this Purdue team has shown that they can be competitive, with wins over Michigan State, Maryland, and Wisconsin. They will have to get back on track if they want to make a run in this tournament, and star player Carsen Edwards will have to end his shooting slump, which hit its peak in that loss to Minnesota when he shot just 4-17 from the field.

#4 Seed: Kansas State

Conference: Big 12 

Record: 25-8 (14-4 Big 12)

The Wildcats have had one of their best seasons in recent memory, climaxing when they earned a share of the Big 12 regular season title, and even though they lose to Iowa State in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament, they have the potential to be a sleeper candidate in their region. KSU boasts one of the more experienced teams in the tournament, with their top 5 scorers all being upperclassmen. Their success is ultimately on star forward Dean Wade, who missed the conference tournament with a foot injury. This team has many of the same players that were on that Elite 8 team just last year, so they are very much capable of a deep run in the tourney. 

#5 Seed: Wisconsin

Conference: Big Ten

Record: 23-10 (14-6 Big Ten)

After an awful start to the season which saw them lose 4 of their first five, they’ve coasted through the rest of the way which saw the Badgers appear in the semifinals of the Big ten tournament. Ethan Happ, who made his third straight first team All-Big Ten team, is averaging a double-double in points and rebounds this year, and leads the team in assists and steals as well. He’s complimented by guard D’Mitrik Trice, who’s shooting 40% from three so far. Wisconsin also has one the more tougher defenses in the country, only allowing close to 61 PPG to the other team. They could prove to be a tough challenge for anyone in this tournament.

#6 Seed: Villanova

Conference: Big East

Record: 25-9 (13-5 Big East)

Let’s be honest, this is one of Jay Wright’s worst teams in his tenure at Villanova, but that’s saying something, as the Wildcats were still ranked in the top 20 in offense and won the Big East yet again. Led by their two leading scorers in Phil Booth and Eric Paschall, Nova can shoot very well from outside the arc. Booth and Paschall are supported by sophomore guard Collin Gillespie, who averages 11 PPG while shooting 38% from three. They do however lack any kind of depth, so if those three guys go cold, Villanova might not have a reliable plan B. Villanova might find it difficult to defend their title, but never count Jay Wright, who is one of the more experienced coaches in the tournament.

#7 Seed: Cincinnati

Conference: American Athletic

Record: 28-6 (14-4 AAC)

The Bearcats move the ball slowly on offense as they rank near the bottom on offensive pace. This prevents them from closing the door and finishing out games, but it also gives them the ability to hang around and stay in the game while trailing. The team is lead by senior guard Jarron Cumberland, who accounts for a quarter of all of Cincinnati’s points this season. If they want to keep competing with the big boys of the tournament and their region, they need to be firing on all cylinders, something that they can do, but not consistently.

#8 Seed: Ole Miss

Conference: SEC

Record: 20-12 (10-8 SEC)

At the start of the season, the Rebels were projected to finish last in the SEC, but now they’re in the tournament. You never know what you’re gonna get from this team. One game they can look like world beaters, knocking down every shot, defending well, and pulling off upsets, and the next game they can fall flat on their face and not do very well. If this team can stay consistent, put points on the board early, and continue to be one of the best free throw shooting teams in the country, Ole Miss can be a scary team to face especially late in the game.

#9 Seed: Oklahoma

Conference: Big 12

Record: 19-13 (7-11 Big 12)

The Sooners enter the tournament on a bit of a downswing, as they’ve lost 8 out of their last 12 including an opening round loss to a West Virginia team sitting in last place in the Big 12 standings. Nevertheless, they are in the tournament, and looking to prove some people wrong. Senior guard Christian James can put up some points but OU aren’t really strong in any offensive category. They need to find a strong suit and an identity if they want to stay alive in the tournament, otherwise they’re just going to get run over.

#10 Seed: Iowa

Conference: Big Ten

Record: 22-11 (10-10 Big Ten)

Iowa finished the season in the worst way they could ever imagine, going 1-5 in their final 6 game before getting smacked by Michigan in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. But they do have an offense that averages 78.3 PPG with 4 players averaging double-digit scoring led by forward Tyler Cook. Their defense isn’t that great however, so if they want to win they're going to really have to put points on the scoreboard.

#11 Seed: Saint Mary’s

Conference: West Coast

Record: 22-11 (11-5 WCC)

The Gaels are coming off a fantastic upset win over Gonzaga in the final of the WCC tournament, and while it was their defense that showed out in that game, this team is actually better on the other side of the ball. Saint Mary’s have 5 guys that shoot over 40% from three, including leading scorer Jordan Ford, who averages over 20 points a game. They also share the ball and are pretty well-rounded with everyone contributing and making shots. They can be a real challenge for Villanova in the first round, and after shocking Gonzaga to win the conference title, they have proved they can compete with anyone.

#12 Seed: Oregon

Conference: Pac-12

Record: 23-12 (10-8 Pac-12)

Despite losing their best player in Bol Bol, Dana Altman has done a good job in rallying the team on their way to a Pac-12 title. They had to overcome immense odds to win their final 8 games and earn an automatic spot, and the have a real chance to pull off an upset over the Badgers of Wisconsin. They are tough on the defensive end and it can be tough to establish a clean offensive flow against the Ducks. Oregon has caught fire at the right time, and they’re looking to shock some more people with a first round upset and maybe even a second round upset. Who knows, it is March after all.

#13 Seed: UC Irvine

Conference: Big West

Record: 30-5 (15-1 BWC)

The Anteaters are currently on a 16-game winning streak and only lost one game in conference play. The boast one of the best defenses in the nation ready to clamp down on anyone. They like to control the tempo of the game with a methodical style of play, especially for bigger and better teams. They can also put points on the board too and make a living in the paint. Their first round matchup is in California, watch out Wildcats.

#14 Seed: Old Dominion

Conference: Conference-USA

Record: 26-8 (13-5 C-USA)

The Monarchs have one of the best defenses in the nation as they led their conference in scoring defense and rebounding margin. Like UC Irvine, they play a methodical style of offense but have a duo that can be very exciting to watch. Seniors BJ Stith and Ahmad Caver led the team in scoring and will look to lead the team to a potential first round upset.

#15 Seed: Colgate

Conference: Patriot League

Record: 24-10 (13-5 Patriot)

For the first time since 1996, Colgate is back in the big dance. Led by big man Rapolas Ivanauskas, who was the Patriot League player of the year, and guard Jordan Burns, the Raiders can shoot well on the offensive end. However they are very prone to a lot of turnovers and aren’t that great on the defensive side of the ball, something that won’t do them well against Tennessee.

#16 Seed: Gardner-Webb

Conference: Big South

Record: 23-11 (10-6 BSC)

With their win in the Big South tournament, Gardner-Webb earned their first ever appearance in the NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs know how to draw fouls and get to the line, something that can help them out of they want to pull off a UMBC. They can also knock down shots from range. Their defense is lackluster though, which could prove to be fatal against Virginia.


West Region


#1 Seed: Gonzaga

Conference: West Coast

Record: 30-3 (16-0 WCC)

They may have it easy in the West Coast Conference, but that doesn’t mean that Gonzaga isn’t one of the best teams in the nation, they are. Coming off a tough loss to Saint Mary’s in the WCC tournament final, the Zags are looking to rebound with a possible run to the Final Four. They have a top-15 defense that’s loaded with size and experience. Rui Hachimura is the team’s best player. He leads Gonzaga in scoring with 20.1 PPG and could be a lottery pick in the upcoming draft. Other players like Brandon Clarke and Zach Norvell Jr. also average more than 15 PPG. Gonzaga are looking to shed their choking label in the NCAA tournament, and are looking to do so with a national championship.

#2 Seed: Michigan

Conference: ACC

Record: 28-6 (15-5 Big Ten)

The Wolverines always seem to get hot in March, and this year might be no different. Coach John Beilein has his team playing aggressive and dominant defense as usual, while protecting the ball and limiting turnovers. Coming off a loss to rival Michigan State in the final of the Big Ten tournament, they will be looking to go on another run to the Final Four. Led by players such as star point guard Zavier Simpson and Big Ten Rookie of the Year Ignas Brazdeikis, the maize and blue are one of the most dangerous teams in the nation, with a real ability to win it all.

#3 Seed: Texas Tech

Conference: Big 12

Record: 26-6 (14-4 Big 12)

Full disclosure, I am a Red Raider fan so this might be a little biased, but forgive me for that. 

Although coming off a shocking loss to West Virginia in their opening game in the Big 12 tournament, the Red Raiders are no team to shy away from. They enter the tournament after winning a share of the Big 12 regular season title, their first conference title of any kind since 1996, in one of the best seasons in program history an are led by quite possibly the best shooting guard in the nation (told you there would be a little bias) and Big 12 Player of the Year Jarrett Culver. He’s complimented by lights-out shooter Davide Moretti, shot-blocker Tariq Owens, and veteran leader Norense Odiase. Texas Tech also has a loaded bench led by Brandone Francis, Deshaun Corprew, and Kyler Edwards. Like Tennessee, this team had some bad losses during the season, most notably that loss to West Virginia, but Chris Beard has his team set for a monster run and a possible second straight Elite 8 appearance. The Red Raiders have the talent to make it to the Final Four, but will we see the real Texas Tech in the tournament, or the one that lost to West Virginia? Only time will tell.

#4 Seed: Florida State

Conference: ACC

Record: 27-7 (13-5 ACC)

This team lost 4 out of their first 5 conference games before going on a 14-1 run in conference play before appearing in the ACC tournament final against Duke. The Seminoles main strength is on defense, with many players with long wingspans that will swarm the rim and protect the paint. This is also a very experienced team, with plenty of players that made the Elite 8 last year with FSU. Those players make up the core of the team, and their experience should bode well for Florida State as they attempt to make another run to the Elite 8 and maybe beyond. 

#5 Seed: Marquette

Conference: Big East

Record: 24-9 (12-6 Big East)

This team revolves around star point guard Markus Howard, who lead the Big East in scoring with 25 PPG, while also shooting around 43% from the field and almost 90% from the free throw line. He did however, get injured in the Big East tournament, so there is a question if he will be 100% in the tournament. If he isn’t the Golden Eagles will look to the Hauser brothers, Sam and Joey, who are the team’s second and third leading scorers respectively. Don’t give this team room to shoot the ball, as they can with deadly efficiency. Do they have what it takes to make it far though, if Howard is healthy, then they quite possibly can.

#6 Seed: Buffalo

Conference: Mid-American

Record: 31-3 (16-2 MAC)

The Bulls broke a conference record for wins in a season this year with 31, and after an upset of Arizona in last year’s tournament, Buffalo will want to go even further then they did last time. This team rides on physicality and an attacking style of play, and they aren’t afraid of anyone. CJ Massinburg, the team leader in scoring, will look to lead the way as Buffalo looks to go on a Cinderella run to the Elite 8. Don’t underestimate the Bulls, they can strike in a hurry and make you pay for any slight mistakes.

#7 Seed: Nevada

Conference: Mountain West

Record: 29-4 (15-3 MWC)

Nevada has one of the most efficient teams in basketball, and they get it done on both sides of the floor. They have athleticism, they have size, and they have talent. Led by senior Jordan Caroline, and the Martin twins (Caleb and Cody), who all combine to average around 31 PPG, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists per game, this team has the ability to dictate the tempo and control the pace of the game. They love to create turnovers and turn them into points, as the boast 10 turnover a game average. Like Buffalo, they can quickly score the basketball and quickly swarm you on defense, and also like Buffalo, they have the ability to make a real Cinderella run to the Elite 8 if they get hot enough.

#8 Seed: Syracuse

Conference: ACC

Record: 20-13 (10-8 ACC)

Syracuse has a real knack for being quite mediocre during the season, but all of the sudden turn it up to 11 come tournament time and go on a huge run to the Elite 8 and beyond, which is what happened last year, and they look to do it again this year. Jim Boeheim still puts out his unique 2-3 defensive look, which can be difficult to break through. They have an efficient defense that protects the rim and creates many turnovers, which keeps them in the game despite their lackluster offense. They struggled on conference play, but something about the tournament makes Syracuse one of the best teams in the nation at times. Will it happen this year, who knows? Do they have enough to get past a tough region, we’ll have to wait and see. 

[P.S., one of my friends thinks that this team is making the Final Four for some reason, shout out to that guy, you know who you are ;)]

#9 Seed: Baylor 

Conference: Big 12

Record: 19-13 (10-8 Big 12)

The Bears ended the season on a low note, losing their last 4 games and suffering an opening round exit in the Big 12 tournament. They also lost one of their best players, Tristan Clark, to a knee injury in January and haven’t looked the same since then. But they do however, boast a strong guard attack led by Makai Mason, Mario Kegler, and Jared Butler. They are also one of the best offensive-rebounding teams in the nation. This can keep hopes up for the Bears, but they could be looking at an early exist in the tournament.

#10 Seed: Florida

Conference: SEC

Record: 19-15 (9-9 SEC)

A questionable tournament addition, the Gators rely heavily on a solid defense that breaks down at times. The did rank in the top 50 in the nation in terms of turnovers forced, 3-point defense, and scoring defense, which is a rare combination to have in today’s game. KeVaughn Allen leads the way while averaging double figures in scoring for the fourth year in a row. He’s capable of putting points on the board, but he’s gonna have to step up big time if the Gators want to stay in the tournament for long as all signs point to an early exit for Florida.

#11 Seed: Arizona State

Conference: Pac-12

Record: 22-10 (12-6 Pac-12)

The Sun Devils have problems staying consistent, but they have a lot of talent to win some games in the tournament. ASU also doesn’t have any trouble getting to the free throw line, the bad news is that they don’t take advantage of this, as they only shoot about 67% from the charity strike. Four players on this team average double figures in scoring, the leading scorer being Luguentz Dort with just over 16 PPG. Zylan Cheatham also averages a double-double, with almost 12 points and 10 rebounds per game. Arizona State has trouble shooting the ball a lot, but they have the ability to compete with top teams, as they did upset Kansas earlier this year.

#12 Seed: Murray State

Conference: Ohio Valley

Record: 27-4 (16-2 OVC)

One name strikes fear into the hearts of any team that will face the Racers. That man’s name is Ja Morant. A potential top 3 draft pick, he makes everyone around him better, averaging a double-double with 24.6 PPG and 10 APG. They can really shoot the ball and are one of the best offensive shooting teams in the country, scoring around 83 PPG. So far they’re on an 11 game win streak, albeit facing a very easy schedule. Only because of Morant that they are a top upset pick in the opening round, and a matchup with Markus Howard of Marquette should be an amazing thing to watch. Murray State could surprise a lot of people, and Ja Morant could cement his college legacy with a run in the tournament. 

#13 Seed: Vermont

Conference: America East

Record: 27-6 (14-2 AEC)

The America East champions, the Vermont Catamounts, are back in the tournament for the second time in 3 years. Everything revolves around their best player, the America East Player of the Year Anthony Lamb, who’s averaging a good 21.4 PPG and 7.8 RPG. Vermont plays at their best when they control the tempo of the game, limiting turnovers, and crashing the glass with many rebounds, but that could be hard to do as they go up against better competition. They could be a tough matchup however for Florida State, as they are one of the most disciplines teams in the tournament.

#14 Seed: Northern Kentucky

Conference: Horizon League

Record: 26-8 (13-5 Horizon)

Appearing in the tournament for only the second time in school history, the Norse can pass the ball around as well as anyone, boasting a high assists per game average as well as a good assists-to-turnovers ratio. The team is led by star big man Drew McDonald, who leads the team in points and rebounds per game with 19.1 PPG and 9.5 RPG. They play a real physical game and could be a tough team early on in the game.

#15 Seed: Montana

Conference: Big Sky

Record: 26-8 (16-4 Big Sky)

The Grizzlies were dominant in conference play this year, cruising to a Big Sky regular season and tournament title. They can play well on both sides of the ball and are incredibly efficient, leading the conference in both field goal percentage and scoring defense. They will have to be at their best though in order to knock off the Wolverines in the first round though.

#16 Seed: Fairleigh Dickinson

Conference: Northeast

Record: 20-13 (12-6 NEC)

The Knights are one of the most accurate teams from beyond the arc in the nation, hitting 40% of their threes this year. They have a balanced attack with 5 players averaging double figures in scoring led by Darnell Edge, who is the best 3-point shooter on the team. They enter the tournament with an 8-game winning streak including a First Four win over Prairie View A&M. They are, in my opinion, the most likely 16 seed to beat their 1 seed. They can shoot the ball well, but they will have to sink almost everything in order to beat Gonzaga.


Midwest Region


#1 Seed: North Carolina

Conference: ACC

Record: 27-6 (16-2 ACC)

The Tar Heels finished the season strong, winning 15 out of their last 17 games before losing to arch-rival Duke in the semifinals of the ACC tournament. Their two losses were only by a combined 9 points to Virginia and Duke. Led by star big man Luke Maye, UNC is the most physical team in the nation, dominating the glass on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. They also have a tendency to start a lot of fast-break possessions, and because of this run a very up-tempo offense, which is one of the fastest ones in the country. The also move the ball around very well, averaging 19 assists per game. Guards Cameron Johnson and Coby White can also put up some points. North Carolina is one of the most dangerous teams in the tournament, and they’re aiming for their 3rd Final Four appearance in 5 years. They could meet Duke in the national championship game, and boy what a matchup that would be.

#2 Seed: Kentucky

Conference: SEC

Record: 27-6 (15-3 SEC)

Every year the Wildcats are led by a few freshmen who go on to become NBA draft picks, and this year is no different for Kentucky. This year, the key freshmen are guards Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson, and they make up a fantastic duo with both men averaging over 13 points per game. PJ Washington leads the team in scoring, and has made leaps and bounds in his shooting since last year, he’s also 6-foot-8 and has a very long wingspan, making him a real nightmare to go up against. They can put a lot of points on the board, and can get to the line a lot too, as they are top 10 in the nation in free throw attempts. Kentucky hasn't made the Final Four in 4 years, and that’s too long of a drought for them, they’ll be looking to change that this year.

#3 Seed: Houston

Conference: American Athletic

Record: 31-3 (16-2 AAC)

Houston ranks in the top ten in scoring margin, and get roughly 40% of their scoring from the backcourt duo of Corey Davis Jr. and Armoni Brooks. The other half of that scoring margin comes on the defensive side of the court, where they rank near the top in scoring defense despite lacking size and height. Coming off a tough loss to Cincinnati in the AAC tournament final, the Cougars are looking to avenge their Round of 32 exit last year that saw them lose to Michigan due to a game-winning buzzer beater from Jordan Poole. They will be looking to prove they can compete with the best, and one could argue that they have the talent to do it.

#4 Seed: Kansas

Conference: Big 12 

Record: 25-9 (12-6 Big 12)

The streak is over for Kansas, as they couldn't claim a 15th straight Big 12 regular season title while also losing to Iowa State in the Big 12 tournament final. This is a but of a weaker Kansas team than in recent years, but the Jayhawks still have a lot of firepower at their disposal. Dedric Lawson is the star of the team averaging a double-double so far this season with 19.1 PPG and 10.3 RPG. Kansas are missing some key contributors, as two of their better players, Lagerald Vick and Udoka Azubuike, are away from the team and injured respectively. This means that along with Lawson, the Jayhawks will be relying heavily on the freshman trio of Devon Dotson, Ochai Agbaji, and Quentin Grimes, the latter of which has had some major struggles all season. Overall the team doesn’t have much experience, but their tough schedule should prepare them for the tournament. 

#5 Seed: Auburn

Conference: Big 12

Record: 26-9 (11-7 SEC)

Auburn is coming off a monster win in the SEC championship game in which they beat Tennessee by an astounding 20 points to claim the conference title, and something tells me they aren’t done winning yet. The Tigers are led by leading scorer Bryce Brown alongside Jared Harper, who averages 15 points and 6 assists per game, a statline no other player in the SEC is even close to. This team has the potential to flirt with a Final Four appearance. They have shown they can wipe the floor with big time teams like Tennessee, and they also have wins over Mississippi State and Florida, two other tournament teams in the SEC. They can also sink 3-point shots with ease at times, so there’s that as well.

#6 Seed: Iowa State

Conference: Big 12

Record: 23-11 (9-9 Big 12)

Like Syracuse, the Cyclones can be average in the season and then catch fire once the postseason hits. Iowa State is coming off their 4th Big 12 title in 6 years after losing 5 of their last 6 games to end the season and only finishing 5th in the Big 12 standings. The Cyclones also have a great offense, as they average just over 77 points per game. Their leading scorer is senior guard Marial Shayok, who averages over 18 points a game and can shoot the ball really well. Their defense isn’t the best but they can certainly make that up on the offensive end, which is why ISU could be a tough nut to crack in the tournament.

#7 Seed: Wofford

Conference: Southern 

Record: 29-4 (18-0 SoCon)

The Terriers are currently on a 20-game win streak dating back to before Christmas (December 19th to be exact), and are one of the more hotter teams heading into the tournament. They cruised through conference play and didn’t lose a single game before winning the SoCon tournament with ease. They are led by one of the best 3-point shooters in NCAA history in Fletcher McGee, who’s currently has the second most 3-point buckets of all time with 460, and could break the record of 504 made 3-pointers in the tournament if Wofford keep winning. They also do a good job of limiting turnovers too. This is a team no one will be thrilled to face. 

#8 Seed: Utah State

Conference: Mountain West

Record: 28-6 (15-3 MWC)

Led by Mountain West Player of the Year Sam Merrill, and freshman rim protector Neemias Queta, the Aggies can get it done on both sides of the ball, making shots while also collecting a lot of rebounds. With their all-around capabilities, the Mountain West champs could potentially make it to the Sweet 16, even though that is probably unlikely.

#9 Seed: Washington

Conference: Pac-12

Record: 26-8 (15-3 Pac-12)

This team lives and dies by their defense, it’s their main identity. 6-foot-5 guard Matisse Thybulle may be one of the best defenders in the country, and the Huskies only give up around 64 points per game. Against tough competition however, they couldn’t get it done, and after coming off a loss to Oregon in the Pac-12 tournament final, they need to bounce back if they hope to win a game or two in this tournament. Their defense is capable, but can it hold up is the main question.

#10 Seed: Seton Hall

Conference: Big East

Record: 20-13 (9-9 Big East) 

Seton Hall is peaking at the right time, and is playing their best basketball of the season so far right now. They had a strong finish to their season, which included an appearance in the Big East tournament final, where they lost to Villanova. Myles Powell in particular has been playing the basketball of his life so far, and he came up big in the conference tournament, scoring 31 in the quarterfinal, 22 in the semis, and finally 25 in the final. Powell also led the team in scoring, and is their best player. Another Myles, Myles Cale, also averages double figures in scoring, and played well in the conference tournament as well. But they can’t just rely on Powell to do all of their dirty work, everyone needs to step up if they want to go far in this tournament. 

#11 Seed: Ohio State

Conference: Big Ten

Record: 19-14 (8-12 Big Ten)

Another questionable tournament addition, the Buckeyes didn’t have a great time in conference play, going just 8-12 before losing in the quarterfinals of the Big ten tournament. They were also outrebounded, outscored, and generally outplayed like crazy during Big Ten play. They are led by their leading scorer and leading rebounder Kaleb Wesson, who got a suspension for the final three conference games (and the Buckeyes lost all of them). If they even want to think about surviving in March, Wesson has to get control of his temper and OSU just generally has to play way better than what they’re putting out right now, which isn't good basketball.

#12 Seed: New Mexico State

Conference: WAC

Record: 30-4 (15-1 WAC)

The Aggies are up there with Buffalo for the title of the best mid-major team in the country, and they play like it too. They do have a bad loss in conference play to Cal Baptist, but that lone blemish wasn’t enough to hold the Aggies back from winning the WAC tournament. They are among the nations leaders in rebounding numbers, and play good, team basketball that deploys its bench early and often. This team goes deep and plays with real drive and ferocity. Expect a balanced style of play that never fails to impress.

#13 Seed: Northeastern

Conference: CAA

Record: 23-10 (14-4 CAA)

The Huskies are a pretty great shooting team, shooting 39% from 3-point land and 48% overall. Just under half their shots (46%) came from beyond the arc so this team isn’t afraid to take some risks on the offensive end of the floor. They are also a well experienced team that could give Kansas a run for their money and a little bit of trouble.

#14 Seed: Georgia State

Conference: Sun Belt

Record: 24-9 (13-5 Sun Belt)

Georgia State is no stranger to the upset, and they are one of the better 3-point shooting teams in the nation. They shoot 39% from beyond the arc and 47% overall. However, the Panthers leading scorer, D’Marcus Simonds, is strangely one of the worst 3-point shooters on the whole team. Their defense isn’t that great, but if this team can continue to make it rain from downtown and shoot the ball as well as they’ve done, then the Sun Belt champions can make a real case for an upset of Houston in the opening round. 

#15 Seed: Abilene Christian

Conference: Southland

Record: 27-6 (14-4 Southland)

The Wildcats have a solid defense that led the conference by a huge margin in terms of scoring defense, while also leading the conference in 3-point shooting. After the team kicked off two of their better players for violating ACU policy, they haven’t lost a game since, and will try to pull off an upset of Kentucky in the first round to keep their run going. The might just have the best chance out of all the 15 seeds to win.

#16 Seed: Iona

Conference: MAAC

Record: 17-15 (12-6 MAAC)

And now finally we come to the team ranked last overall out of the 68 teams in the field, the Iona Gaels. After a bad start to the season in non-conference play, they got it together and finished the season on a 10-game winning streak, claiming the MAAC title in the process. Rickey McGill is the team's best player, and is among the nations leaders in steals with a 2.3 average per game. They also have a good offense with four players averaging double figures so far (that seems to be a theme in this tournament, notice that?). They’re on a good run so far, can they keep it going with an upset of UNC? Probably not.

There you have it, 64 teams and 64 in-depth analyses of each and every one. But now that you’ve read all that, I want to show you my predictions of what I think will happen. Here is my bracket. Let’s start with the East Region. 

Edit: Problem, i took screenshots on my computer of my bracket but they’re having a bit of trouble coming over to the website, hopefully this hyperlink works, if not then…… I don’t know ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

http://fantasy.espn.com/tournament-challenge-bracket/2019/en/entry?entryID=19847968

Edit 2: facepalm, the link doesn’t work, I’m just gonna list out the matchups.

Round of 64

(1) Duke over (16) NDSU

(9) UCF over (8) VCU

(5) Miss St over (12) Liberty

(4) VT over (13) Saint Louis

(11) Belmont over (6) Maryland

(3) LSU over (14) Yale

(7) Louisville over (10) Minnesota

(2) MSU over (15) Bradley

Round of 32

(1) Duke over (8) UCF

(4) VT over (5) Miss St

(3) LSU over (11) Belmont

(2) MSU over (7) Louisville

Sweet 16

(1) Duke over (4) VT

(3) LSU over (2) MSU

Elite 8

(1) Duke over (3) LSU

There aren’t that many surprises here. Duke’s got a cakewalk to the Final Four, so they better not blow it. Yes I have LSU in the Elite 8. And you know why? Because as I said, they can compete with the best and push you to the limit, and they will outlast Michigan State because of this. That’s my main shocker, but I have the obvious choice, Duke, making it out of this regilet’s move on to the West Region.

Round of 64

(1) Gonzaga over (16) FDU

(8) Syracuse over (9) Baylor

(12) Murray State over (5) Marquette

(4) FSU over (13) Vermont

(6) Buffalo over (11) ASU

(3) TTU over (14) NKU

(7) Nevada over (10) Florida

(2) Michigan over (15) Montana

Round of 32

(1) Gonzaga over (8) Syracuse

(12) Murray State over (4) Florida State

(3) TTU over (6) Buffalo

(2) Michigan over (7) Nevada

Sweet 16

(1) Gonzaga over (12) Murray State

(3) TTU over (2) Michigan

Elite 8

(3) TTU over (1) Gonzaga

I have Murray State in the Sweet 16. And that’s because of one guy. Ja. Morant. He will single-handedly carry the Racers to the Sweet 16 like Lebron carried the Cavs. He will outplay anyone he is put up against, and this tournament will be his breakout party. Moving on now to Texas Tech, I have them in my Final Four. No it isn’t bias (ok maybe a little), hear me out. The Red Raiders have shown that they can play like one of the top teams in the nation. They competed with Duke for a whole game. So they can definitely compete with the likes of Michigan and Gonzaga. If they play like I know they can play, they can be beat anyone. Yes. Anyone. Let’s move on to the South.  

Round of 64

(1) Virginia over (16) Gardner-Webb

(8) Ole Miss over (9) Oklahoma

(12) Oregon over (5) Wisconsin

(4) KSU over (13) UC-Irvine

(11) Saint Mary’s over (6) Villanova

(3) Purdue over (14) ODU

(7) Cincy over (10) Iowa

(2) Tennessee over (15) Colgate

Round of 32

(1) Virginia over (8) Ole Miss

(4) KSU over (12) Oregon

(3) Purdue over (11) Saint Mary’s

(2) Tennessee over (7) Cincy

Sweet 16

(4) KSU over (1) Virginia

(2) Tennessee over (3) Purdue

Elite 8

(2) Tennessee over (4) KSU

I can hear you guys already. You’re probably thinking “WHAT, SAINT MARY’S? THEY’VE GOT NO CHANCE AGAINST JAY WRIGHT AND VILLANOVA!!!!!!!!!” Hear me out for a second. I have them winning for two reasons. Firstly, it’s March, anything can happen. Secondly, as I have pointed out, Villanova just aren’t as good as they have been in past years, and Saint Mary’s is on a hot streak after upsetting Gonzaga to win the WCC title. Saint Mary’s is also a very good team, and one that always can pull off an upset, as we’ve seen. So yeah, I’m confident in the Gaels winning that one. I have Oregon winning for the same reason, they’ve caught fire. Kansas State is in my Elite 8 for a few reasons. They have almost the same team as last year when they made it that far, they got a share of the Big 12 title, and Virginia always finds a way to lose in March. They get so far and just choke it, so I have the Wildcats beating Virginia, and I have Tennessee making it out of the Final Four. We will see the real Volunteers in the tournament. They will play with so much tenacity that no one will be able to compete with them in this region. 

Now let’s move on to the final region, the Midwest. 

Round of 64

(1) UNC over (16) Iona

(9) Washington over (8) Utah State

(12) New Mexico State over (5) Auburn

(4) Kansas over (13) Northeastern

(6) Iowa State over (11) Ohio State

(3) Houston over (14) Georgia State

(10) Seton Hall over (7) Wofford

(2) Kentucky over (15) ACU

Round of 32

(1) UNC over (9) Washington

(12) New Mexico State over (4) Kansas

(6) Iowa State over (3) Houston

(2) Kentucky over (10) Seton Hall

Sweet 16

(1) UNC over (12) New Mexico State

(2) Kentucky over (6) Iowa State

Elite 8

(1) UNC over (2) Kentucky

I have another 12 seed making it to the Sweet 16, yes I know I’m crazy and wrong, but I know this is going to happen. One, they can rebound the ball well on the offensive side, which is vital if you want to win games. Two, they have lots of depth and a bench that goes very deep. And three, IT IS MARCH, the madness can bring out anything. But yeah mostly the first two reasons. Besides from that there aren’t any surprises here. Iowa State will make it to the Sweet 16 as they are just a better team than Houston. And North Carolina will make it out of this region, they are just so dominant and that’s why they're in my Final Four.

Now let’s see who I have winning the whole thing.

Final Four

(1) Duke over (3) Texas Tech

(1) North Carolina over (2) Tennessee

Duke and Texas Tech have met earlier this year, but as we saw in that matchup, Tech is no match for Duke. Even if Texas Tech played perfect they still wouldn’t beat Duke. The Blue Devils just have more upside and more talent than the Red Raiders. Tech’s defense will crack against one of the better shooting teams in the nation, and they will be able to out-maneuver Tech and have better athleticism to come out on top. Over on the other side we have Tennessee vs. North Carolina. Like I’ve said before, North Carolina is just such a dominant team, and Tennessee’s bad luck will catch up with them eventually. UNC’s physical style of play will just be too much for the Vols to keep up with, and their rebounding skills will maximize their possessions and score more points. The Tar Heels will pull away at the end of the game, and their fast-paced offense will tire out Tennessee.

Which leaves us with a championship game that features by far the best rivalry in college basketball. Duke vs. North Carolina. What a title game that would be. These two teams know each other very well. If this happens, I think the Blue Devils just squeak by. Yes, UNC has beaten Duke twice already. But Duke beat UNC when it mattered most, in the ACC tournament, which is why I have Duke winning. Their core will just be too much for UNC at the end of the game, and it will get them over the Tar Heels and they will become national champions.

National Championship

(1) Duke: 72

(1) North Carolina: 70

I really don’t have much else to say. I could be right, I could be wrong. 

But that doesn’t matter, only one thing does.

March is here.

Let the madness begin.