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Alright for those of you that are new round here, here is a quick little blurb!! Every year I put together an easy to read guide for all things bracketology. For background info into why I do this – for starters – I attended a huge basketball school; Indiana University (#1 in the NIT tourney this year lol!!). Which is where I gained my fair share of college basketball knowledge. This knowledge also came from playing the sport from 6 years old to 18 years old. I have countless memories of my Dad and I in the front yard in small town Indiana, where I grew up, working endlessly on my jump-shot and playing HORSE until I would of course win :). Also – I want to help YOU ALL out! All through my high school and college years I would help my girlfriends on their brackets, picking teams and sharing insight. It is something that I just love and enjoy! College basketball and March Madness have become one of my passions and almost a part of who I am.
So without further aideu lets get started ladies.
America East: Vermont
Atlantic 10: Saint Louis
Big 12: Iowa State
Big East: Villanova
Big Sky: Montana
Big South: Gardner-Webb
Big West: UC Irvine
Big Ten: Michigan State
Conference USA: Old Dominion
Horizon League: Northern Kentucky
Ivy League: Yale
Metro Atlantic Athletic: Iona
MEAC: NC Central
Missouri Valley: Bradley
Mountain West: Utah State
Northeast: Fairleigh Dickinson
Ohio Valley: Murray State
Patriot League: Colgate
Southland: Abilene Christian
SWAC: Prairie View A&M
Summit League: North Dakota State
Sun Belt: Georgia State
West Coast Conference: Saint Mary’s
Western Athletic Conference: New Mexico State
4) Keep in mind the outright conference title holders. Although these titles will not determine how they will play in the tournament under pressure, it will give you more information on their depth and performance. The below teams have been playing strongly throughout the whole season and conference play, they have the players, coaching, and hard work to go far.
American Athletic Conference: Houston
Atlantic 10: VCU
Big 12:Texas Tech
Big East: Villanova
Big 10: Purdue
PAC 12: Washington
5) Upsets will happen. This is the most inevitable yet exciting part of the tournament. We are always rooting for that Cinderella Story and seeing a #14 seed beat a #3 seed, tbt 2012 Lehigh v. Duke game, are sometimes March’s best moments. Below I will highlight the upsets that should be on your radar!
(11)Belmont/Temple over (6) Maryland: Belmont and Temple play in the First Four round on Tuesday night. I think Belmont wins this one but whoever wins this matchup will have the advantage over (6) Maryland. Maryland finished 5th in the Big Ten and lost in the first round of the Big Ten tournament to lowly Nebraska (no offense). With a win under their belt in the tournament already I see the winner of the Belmont/Temple matchup using the confidence from that win to roll over Maryland.
(13) UC Irvine over (4) Kansas St: UC Irvine was the regular season winner of the Big West conference and won their conference tournament with ease beating CS Fullerton by 28 points in the final. This team only lost 5 games all season and had wins @ Texas A&M and @ (11) Saint Mary’s who later defeated (1) Gonzaga in the WCC conference tournament. UC Irvine held their opponents to a 38.3% shooting percentage which ranks 5th best in the nation. Should be a close one and since this game is being played in California (San Jose), I’ll give the nod to UC Irvine.
(7) Nevada over (10) Florida and then (2) Michigan: Nevada was one of the hottest picks to win the NCAA Tournament back before the season started. They have a very experienced squad who has been in this spot before. Last year they were also a (7) seed and beat (10) Texas and (2) Cincinnati before losing by 1 point to Cinderella story Loyola-Chicago. Nevada has been waiting for March since the season began. They play in a mediocre conference in the Mountain West and lost 4 games all season. Those 4 loses can be attributed to an experienced team playing down to their competition in anticipation for March.
(12) Murray State over (5) Marquette: This matchup might be the most exciting game of the first round. You have two of the best players in the country squaring off in JA Morant (Murray State) and Markus Howard (Marquette). Morant is likely a top 5 maybe even top 3 pick in the NBA draft and averages 25 points per game with 10 assists. Marquette was hot at one point this season winning 20 of 22 games but have lost 5 of their last 6. Also Marquette hasn’t been good this year in close games (games within 5 points) having only won 30%. You have to go with JA Morant in a tight one against Marquette.
6) Four teams I feel strongly about going far and potentially winning it all
Duke– They have the nation’s best player in Zion Williamson. He is a man among boys.
Gonzaga – A loss in their conference tournament final will light a fire under their players.
Kentucky – Easy route to the elite 8 with likely UNC in their path to the final four.
Virginia – Their games will be boring to watch but this is the tournament’s best defensive team hands down.