NCAA Expert Bracket Picks
It’s time to fill out your bracket for the 2014 NCAA Tournament. For those of you looking for some help on who to take in each game, or just for some possible upsets, here is a look at who I have coming out of each region. I have also listed my Final Four predictions as well to help you win your bracket contests and pools. Be sure to check out my completed bracket as well.
The South boasts the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament in Florida Gators (32-2). This appears to be one of the easier regions if there is such a thing, which the Gators have earned. No. 2 Kansas (24-9) could be without Joel Embiid at least for the start of the big dance. No. 3 Syracuse (27-5) is the team that I have advancing to the Elite Eight to face Florida. Jim Boeheim’s zone is very tough to prepare for. While No. 4 UCLA (26-8) is hot, and No. 5 VCU (26-8) is capable of beating anyone, I don’t expect either to challenge the Gators in the South.
Final Four Participant: Florida
Arizona (30-4) has earned the top seed in the West Region. However, this team has been vulnerable ever since losing Brandon Ashley to a season-ending injury. That’s why it could struggle with Oklahoma State in the Round of 32, though I have it advancing. I believe Wisconsin (26-7) is a very weak 2-seed as it tends to struggle in the NCAA Tournament every year. I believe No. 3 Creighton (26-7) is the team to beat in this region. It will match up well against Baylor’s zone defense with its ability to shoot the 3-ball. The Bluejays feature the best player in the country in Doug McDermott, who can single-handedly carry this team at times.
Final Four Participant: Creighton
The East Region has the fourth and final No. 1 seed in Virginia (28-6). This team won the ACC regular season and conference tournament titles and was deserving of a top seed. The Cavaliers won 16 of their final 17 games to close out the season, and they’re one of the best defensive teams in the country. However, they have the unfortunate task of likely facing No. 4 Michigan State (26-8) in the Sweet 16. The Spartans could easily be a No. 2 seed. Speaking of 2-seed, I am not big on Villanova (28-4), which I felt was overrated all season. I look for No. 3 seed and Big 12 tournament champion Iowa State (26-7) to take down Big Ten tournament champion Michigan State for a Final Four bid.
Final Four Participant: Iowa State
The toughest draw of all the No. 1 seeds to get to the Elite Eight goes to Wichita State (34-0). It not only has a potential meeting with Kentucky (24-10) in the Round of 32, but then will likely square off against No. 4 Louisville (29-5) in the Sweet 16. The defending champion Cardinals are playing as well as anyone right now. The bottom half of this region is very watered-down. I believe No. 2 Michigan (25-8) is overrated as its four Big Ten losses this year came by double-digits, and it won a ton of close games. No. 3 Duke (26-8) doesn’t play defense, and I actually have the Iowa/Tennessee play-in winner advancing to the Elite Eight. There, I look for the Shockers to continue their perfect season and to advance to the Final Four.
Final Four Participant: Wichita State
Final Four Predictions
This is where the magical runs of Iowa State and Creighton come to an end. Both of those squads are among the most efficient offensive teams in the country. While that offense will carry them to the Final Four, I look for the stout defense of both Florida and Wichita State to prevail. It would be an excellent story for the Shockers to pull off the perfect season, but in the end, I just believe the Gators will prevail. They are the most complete team in the country.
2014 National Champion: Florida Gators