The Junkies Break The Bracket Down! 

Midwest:

In my opinion this is the most boring of the four regions and headlined by the most fraudulent one seed. The Kansas Jayhawks have a talented roster, don’t get me wrong, but it seemed more often than not I was getting the “Close Game” alert on my cell phone when they played. Kansas also proved without Josh Jackson they are suspect, losing to the TCU Horned Frogs in the Big 12 Tournament. We are big fans of TCU basketball around here –  if only they would have stayed in the Big East, imagine the powerhouse they’d have become. I digress from my point and to help further it, a potential second round  matchup with Michigan State does Kansas no favors. I know MSU is down but you never sleep on a Tom Izzo-coached team in the Big Dance. The Midwest region is probably the most up in the air, especially if Kansas can’t make its way out of it. Louisville doesn’t really scare anyone and Oregon is banged up. Caleb Swanigan is a monster but is he good enough to help Purdue make a Final Four run? Lots  of intrigue in the Midwest.
Best Round One Matchup:

No.4 Purdue vs No. 13 Vermont
I got to be honest here, I was picking going pick  the 8/9 game but that’s a chump move. So I’ll take the game with the All-American Caleb Swanigan. The sophomore forward is in my opinion the best player in the region. So can the best player take down the best 13 seed in the tournament? According to ESPN Vermont has the best chance of advancing to the round of 32 for seeds 13-16. It’s not like Vermont is a stranger to pulling off major upsets. The Catamounts haven’t played many close games this season, pretty much destroying everyone in the America East Conference. It’s about time they get a challenge. I’m not saying they will pull off the upset, but damnit they sure will try.

Double Digit Seed With The Best Chance to make a run:

11 Rhode Island

The Fighting Lamar Odoms are hot right now – winners of their last eight games, including an A10 Championship. They matchup with Creighton, the Fighting Kyle Korvers, in round 1. The 3rd place finishers in the Big East regular season will be a tough out. That said, if the Fighting Odoms make it to the round of 32, a matchup with a banged up Oregon Ducks team is possible, and who knows how well the Ducks will play without Chris Boucher. Going on that magical Sweet 16 run isn’t that far fetched. Full disclosure, I have no clue how good Rhode Island is. I just wanted to mention Lamar Odom because #NeverForget. Plus, if I call this run I’ll look like a genius.

Potential Matchup I want to see:

1 Kansas Vs 9 Michigan State
MSU had a very un-MSU type season, but that’s what happens when you schedule as tough as Tom Izzo does –  which in part is to get his team’s ready for March. It’s nice to see out of a “Power 5”. Playing big schools anytime anywhere can hurt you if you don’t win those games, and the 9th seed is proof – they almost missed the dance. Injuries to their frontcourt have also been a big factor, especially to Eron Harris. On a positive note, Kansas lacks size, and Izzo can match up better with Kansas’ small lineup, which would make for a great game. Plus, l I’ll say it again – KANSAS IS A FRAUD! Honestly, Arizona had a better case than the Jayhawks for a #1 seed. Call me LaVar Ball but I’m standing by that.

West Region:

It was inevitable that whatever region housed Gonzaga as the 1 seed would roundly be considered the weak spot in the NCAA Tournament, and sure enough, here we are. It also doubles as the home for the Northwestern Wildcats in their very first tournament ever, which is a really cool story no matter how sick you are of hearing Mike Wilbon and his cohorts talk about it. Intrigue abounds in this West, because it has all the makings of a busted-up bracket once we reach the second weekend.
Best round one matchup:

3 Florida State vs 14 Florida Gulf Coast
THE RETURN OF DUNK CITY! You can’t not be excited to see Florida Gulf Coast back in the bracket. They were here last year too, of course, but this team actually has the looks of one that can do some damage. I watched some of the Atlantic Sun final and these guys are long and athletic, much like the Eagles that captured our hearts four years ago in wins over Georgetown and San Diego State. FSU will be the heavy favorite, of course, but the Seminoles have not done very well outside their own building and FGCU will be the sentimental favorite if they get going (it doesn’t hurt that they’re actually a few minutes closer to Orlando, where the game will be played, than FSU is).

Double digit seed with the best chance to make a run:

11 Xavier

I don’t really like any of the double-digit seeds in this bracket, but if the Musketeers can recapture their form from early in the season, the bracket lines up pretty well. I don’t think anyone is scared of Maryland in a 6/11 game, and Florida State (if they survive DUNK CITY) isn’t all that frightening either. The problem for Xavier is that they basically haven’t beaten anyone besides DePaul in like a month and a half. However, no program has accomplished more under the radar than Xavier in recent years, so maybe they have the ability to sneak up on us all once again.
Potential matchup I want to see:

Even setting aside my Notre Dame fandom for a moment — if I were to answer this question honestly it would be ND vs North Dakota in the Elite 8 — that potential second-round battle between ND and West Virginia does look pretty tasty, doesn’t it? The Irish and Mountaineers had some real battles in the few years Bob Huggins and Mike Brey were in the Big East together. Their styles align for an intriguing matchup, as WVU is all about trying to take the ball away and the Irish do a better job of taking care of it than just about anyone. And between the Mountaineers’ physical style and the attitude Bonzie Colson has been playing with of late, this game might just be the most likely of any to result in players getting in each other’s faces and chirping a little bit. As an ND fan I don’t want to see this game happen because it would be tough, but the hoops fan in me is kind of excited for it.

Final Four Pick: 

A-Rob: Arizona, over Notre Dame. But let the record show that I thought very hard about taking the Irish to the Final Four, which I’ve never done. ND got underseeded at a 5, but couldn’t have asked for a much more navigable path on paper. I’m excited to see where it goes

Bizzle: Arizona (He’s so long winded^)

South Region:

Even in a region with One and Done U and Paper Class Institute at the top of the South Region, they pale in comparison to the hurricane that has become the Ball family dynamic. In my opinion there is not bigger story than what the hell LaVar Ball will say next. With each passing round I hope the claims get crazier and crazier. The only story that would be bigger than Lonzo Ball being able to make.good on his dad’s claims would be if Texas Southern can pull off the first 16-over-1 upset in March Madness history. Speaking of Texas Southern, they are by record the best 16 seed in the field, so Roy Williams better not sleep on the Tigers the way his players sleep through classes.

Best Round One Matchup:

10 Wichita State vs  7 Dayton
This game has been decided by everyone who gets paid to make decisions. They all have picked Wichita State and I get it. The Shockers won 30 games, and I don’t care what league you play in, that’s mighty impressive. They beat Illinois State in the Missouri Valley finals, knocking them off the bubble. Got to love a team with a chip on their shoulder in the most unpredictable tournament in sports. This team is no slouch, as they beat 5 teams in this tournament.
Double Digit Seed With best Chance to Make a Run:

12 Middle Tennessee State
Holy crap did the bracket set up nicely for the Blue Raiders. Sure Minnesota had a great year in the B1G, but they arent the cream of the crop. When Minnesota loses, it isn’t pretty, but when they win, they win convincingly. I know, that’s a cheap take on Minnesota, but it’s Minnesota. Only people in Minnesota think they are Final Four bound, so if Joe Mauer wants to come at me that’s fine. After the Gophers, MTSU gets either Butler or Winthrop, both mid-major schools themselves. Sorry Butler, but Gordon Hayward and Brad Stevens ain’t walking through that door. A date with North Carolina in the Sweet 16 is very possible, and who doesn’t want to root for a kid named Giddy Potts? That name alone is worth a Sweet Sixteen berth.

Potential Matchup I want to see:

Easily, it’s Kentucky vs UCLA potentially meeting in the Sweet 16, and if I can be corny, what a sweet matchup that would be, with two of the most storied programs in college basketball history. This matchup would feature 5 of the projected top 16 picks in the upcoming NBA draft according to NBADraftNet.com, with Ball leading the way as the #2 prospect in college. I would pay good money to hear LaVar Ball and John Calipari have a conversation. I’m sure LaVar thinks he’s a better coach that Cal. I mean, this is the same guy who thinks he would have killed MJ one on one back in the day. If you call yourself a hoops fan and don’t get even the least bit pumped for a Malik Monk vs Lonzo Ball Sweet 16 matchup, you need to check your pulse, because it’s going to be a classic….If it happens.
Final Four Pick:

 A-Rob: North Carolina Bizzle: UCLA

East Region:

Every region can claim to be the toughest in this year’s NCAA bracket (well, ok, probably not the West), but only one boasts the defending national champion Villanova Wildcats: The East Region.
The East has teams that were arguably overseeded (hi, South Carolina!) and underseeded (tough break, Wisconsin), but it appears to be one of the easiest on paper to predict because everyone is going to have Villanova vs Duke in the Elite 8. Which means this is the odds-on favorite to be the bracket that jacks everyone up like the Midwest regional did last year. (I still haven’t forgiven Michigan State for losing to Middle Tennessee and setting off a chain reaction that resulted in freaking Syracuse, who had no business in the tournament, making the Final Four.)
Best round one matchup:

5 Virginia vs 12 UNC Wilmington
Damn right I’m picking a 5/12 as the best matchup of this bracket. Wilmington has the pedigree – they went 15-3 in the Colonial (29-5 overall) and last year they hung right with Duke in a 3/14 matchup. Four starters are back from that team. And this year, they have an offense ranked in the top 20 for adjusted efficiency by kenpom.com (I’m bringing analytics to the party, baby). UVA, meanwhile, is one of the most dramatically underseeded teams in this tournament by kenpom, which has the Cavaliers ranked 7th, and we all know how tough it is to score against that defense. However, UVA has been floundering a bit lately. They struggled down the stretch in the ACC, they barely escaped last-place Pitt in the ACC tourney, and then Notre Dame, which they’d owned for years, handled them. I don’t like the way the Cavs are trending, and this matchup looks like it could be very exciting. I picked the Seahawks to pull the upset.

Double-digit seed with the best chance to make a run:

12 UNC Wilmington
This is no surprise given what I just said about UNCW. I’m generally not sold on SEC schools that aren’t Kentucky, so if the Seahawks beat Virginia, I like their chances against Florida too. Keep an eye, though, on 11th-seed USC. The Trojans have talent, but haven’t gotten many chances to prove it in a top-heavy but not deep Pac-12. SC draws a good but beatable SMU team in round one, and in the second round they would likely get a Baylor team that dropped a deuce in their most recent game and has become accustomed to flaming out in March.
Potential matchup I want to see:

It almost feels like cheating to pick Villanova vs Duke in the Elite 8 for this answer, but no other potential showdown intrigues me even close to as much as this one does. The last two national champs taking the hardwood in Madison Square Garden, defending champs versus the team most believe to be the most talented in the field. Coach K and Jay Wright are two of the most respected leaders in the game. It’s too good to be true, right? Which is again why I say someone will probably screw it up.
Final Four Pick: 

A-Rob: Villanova Bizzle: Duke (Damnit)

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The Junkies Break The Bracket Down! 

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