NCAA Expert Bracket Picks

It’s time to fill out your bracket for the 2018 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 for my picks in every game.

Download or print your own blank bracket to fill out.

South Region

I was extremely disappointed to see Virginia, Cincinnati, Tennessee and Arizona in the same bracket.  Those were four teams I was going to have going deep into the tournament because I thought all four were some of the best in the country.

Arizona got the shaft on the seeding as a No. 4 seed.  The Wildcats are clearly a No. 2 seed at worst and have the talent to beat anyone in the field.  Not to mention, No. 5 Kentucky is in the same region and is playing its best basketball of the season.  The Wildcats will have a tough test in the Round of 32 against Kentucky.

I think those top four teams will all get through to the Sweet 16, where I have Virginia beating Arizona and Cincinnati getting past Tennessee.  Then I have Virginia advancing to the Final Four.

I don’t foresee many upsets in this bracket as the chalk will prevail.  But one of my favorite upset picks is Loyola-Chicago over Miami in the first round.  I love the way this Loyola team plays defense.  They have several elite 3-point shooters and a stud big man inside.  That will be the biggest upset in this region.

Final Four Participant: Virginia

East Region

I believe of all the No. 1 seeds, Villanova has the easiest route to the Final Four.  The other top seeds in this region are all vulnerable.  That’s why I have Villanova not only as the region winner, but also my National Championship pick as well as I think they are the safest bet.

No. 2 seed Purdue has the potential to make a deep run.  But the Boilermakers played their worst basketball of the season down the stretch, and they were fortunate to snag a No. 2 seed.  I have them advancing to the Elite 8.

No. 3 Texas Tech is a great story with Chris Beard turning around this program.  I love Keenan Evans as he’s an elite scorer, and the Red Raiders have some stud freshmen.  But freshmen don’t win in the tournament, and this team has too many injury concerns to be trusted to make a deep run.

No. 4 Wichita State is fun to watch, but they don’t play any defense.  The best matchup may come in the Round of 32 when No. 5 West Virginia plays Wichita State.  The Mountaineers are always a tough out, but they just never seem to play their best basketball in the big dance.  I’ve got all chalk in this region with the exception of West Virginia beating Wichita State in the Round of 32 for a small upset.

Final Four Participant: Villanova

West Region

I think the most vulnerable No. 1 seed is Xavier.  They will struggle to get by the winner of the No. 4 Gonzaga vs. No. 5 Ohio State matchup in the Sweet 16.  I do have them advancing, but they won’t be going to the Final Four.

I think the stronger half is the bottom half of this region.  I had a very tough time deciding between No. 2 North Carolina and No. 3 Michigan to advance.  I could see that game going either way, but in the end I sided with the Tar Heels and the experience of Joel Berry, Theo Pinson, Luke Maye and company.  Whoever wins that game will beat Xavier in the Elite 8.

I did find some nice upset picks in this region.  No. 11 San Diego State will beat No. 6 Houston.  The Aztecs rolled through the Mountain West Tournament, actually beating Nevada twice in their final two meetings.  Nobody wants to face this team right now.

I also have No. 10 Providence upsetting No. 7 Texas A&M.  The Friars played their best basketball of the season down the stretch and actually made the Big East Championship, taking Villanova to overtime.  The Aggies have terrible guards, but stud big men.  Guards are what win out in the NCAA Tournament.

Final Four Participant: North Carolina

Midwest Region

The Kansas Jayhawks played their best basketball down the stretch as well to earn a No. 1 seed.  They won the Big 12 regular season title yet again thanks to a huge road win at Texas Tech.  They also rolled through the Big 12 Tournament despite playing without stud big man Udoka Azubuike.

I think that experience playing without Azubuike and becoming a more guard-oriented offense will only help the Jayhawks moving forward.  These guards led by Graham and Newman have taken their games to the next level, and Azubuike is expected back for the NCAA Tournament.  This is now a very dangerous team that should have no problem reaching the Elite 8.  I don’t trust Clemson or Auburn to give them much of a scare.

The bottom half of this bracket is the tougher half.  I think both No. 2 Duke and No. 3 Michigan State have Final Four talent.  But the Spartans have more depth and experience, and I think this is the year they get back to the Final Four and challenge for their first championship since 2000.

It’s all chalk for me in this region with the exception of Michigan State upsetting Duke, which won’t really be that big of an upset.  A team to look out for is Seton Hall with their senior leadership and four studs that can beat anyone when they are on.  I’m more worried about Seton Hall in the Round of 32 for Kansas than I am Clemson or Auburn in the next round.

Final Four Participant: Michigan State

Final Four Predictions

Because Villanova has the easiest path, it was an easy choice for me to pick them to win the national title.  They have the championship pedigree from a few years ago and are loaded up and down the roster.  They play elite defense and can get buckets from everywhere.

That being said, I think Virginia is the most complete team in the field.  The Cavaliers were the best team in the country all season.  In fact, they didn’t allow a single opponent to score 70 or more points on them all season.  It’s remarkable what Tony Bennett is doing.  If the South Region was a bit easier, I could have easily picked Virginia as my national champ.

The West Region was the toughest for me to decide because I am high on both North Carolina and Michigan, but down on Xavier.  It wouldn’t surprise me at all if any of those three teams make the Final Four.  Either way, I do have them losing to Virginia.

The Midwest was also tough with Kansas, Duke and Michigan State as options.  I am going with the Spartans, but my confidence level is pretty low.  That’s why I like Villanova to beat whoever comes out of that region.

2018 National Champion: Villanova

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