Your NCAA Tournament Fade Material - the Official 2017 Reags Bracket
We’re hoping for a big bounce back year with this bracket. Last year was average in having Oklahoma and UNC in the Final Four but completely missing on Villanova and obviously Syracuse. Unfortunately I had Oklahoma winning it all and Villanova’s evisceration of them in the Final Four ended those hopes. Now, having said that ….
I have ZERO faith in this bracket. It’s a wide open tournament, with about 10 teams that could legit win this thing. When it comes to the NCAA Tournament, the obvious factor here is matchups. It’s all based on matchups. Teams like Kansas (my preseason pick), Kentucky and UCLA all have terrible matchups just to get to the Final Four. I do think this year will be mostly chalk later in the tournament, but could see some double-digit seeds making the Sweet 16. It wouldn’t shock me to have all No. 1s and No. 2s in the Final Four, which is why I went there. Chalk, whatever. I wouldn’t blame you if you faded these picks at all and went with what Kmarko has.
Quick breakdown of the regions:
The few reasons I don’t have Villanova in the Final Four out here? First, it’s obviously ridiculously hard to win back-to-back titles. Let’s just get that out of the way. I’m just going with history on that one. Second, the shooting. I showed this chart before, but notice Villanova’s shooting trend this season vs last year:
That still worries me when you talk about a win or go home situation. This team caught fire toward the end of last season and through the NCAA Tournament. This season? They are trending down in that category. That’s not to say it won’t change, but something that’s keeping me away from putting them in the Final Four. The last reason? Villanova struggles against guards that can beat you off the dribble without having to use a handoff or ball screen. Frank Jackson can do just that and either get in the lane to score or kick.
I’m going with SMU over Baylor, which is becoming a popular pick, but Baylor hasn’t looked right down the stretch here. You have to wonder how healthy Manu Lemcote is as we had into the NCAA Tournament and SMU’s athleticism with the 6’6″-6’8″ lineup can give that 1-1-3 zone some problems. If that game happens, Shake Milton could really breakout.
With Duke, I’m simply taking the most talented team and completely guessing they have figured shit out during the ACC Tournament. The move to let Jackson handle the ball more and use Grayson in for Matt Jones has been wonderful. The key is Grayson Allen shooting the ball. When he’s shooting well that team is ridiculously good. It allows more space for Kennard and Tatum to operate and the way Kennard passes the ball, you have to really be careful in how much you help off your guy to stop Kennard’s pull-up game.
I think it’s almost a lock that we see Arizona and Gonzaga in the Elite Eight here and personally I think the winner wins the whole damn thing. It’s the one game I struggled with the most in terms of picking. I know some people are saying Arizona could get caught by St. Mary’s in the second round, especially if the game is played at a slower pace, which is what St. Mary’s wants. The fact is this team has a handful of guys they can throw on Jock Landale and have two huge threats to score in Lauri and Trier.
Could Florida State make a run? They have the talent and depth to do so, but they struggle away from home. Making them go out west to play Arizona (if seeds hold) is what’s going to eventually do them in. That said, they may have the best NBA prospect in this region (debate between Isaac and Lauri) and another NBA guy in Dwayne Bacon. I just don’t trust them outside of Florida.
I know people will be high on West Virginia, but don’t get caught up in ‘short bench’ Notre Dame vs them. The Irish are a terrible matchup for West Virginia due to how they take care of the ball and shoot free throws. I think too many times people fall in love with the ‘lack of bench’ for Notre Dame and well, we just saw them go 3 games in 3 days in the ACC Tournament and do just fine.
Do need to watch out for Przemek Karnowski on Gonzaga, because he will dominate your team in the post then steal all the girls:
There’s one way to look at the past year or so with Villanova basketball, Cleveland Cavs, Chicago Cubs and Clemson all finally breaking a curse and winning a championship. Well, something has to give with Gonzaga and Arizona’s Sean Miller never making a Final Four. I’m banking on it not being able to happen again.
No, I do not believe in the theory ‘you can’t count out Izzo in March here.’ I believe in that Kansas should want to avoid Miami if possible in this situation. I mentioned it before but Miami’s guards can give Kansas some problems. Yes, Michigan State has Miles Bridges and Nick Ward keeps getting better, but that’s just not a great matchup if they see Kansas.
The second part of the top half of the bracket is where it gets interesting though, especially when I called it on February 21 with this tweet:
Guess I’ll be a man of my word here and stick with that. It is a bad matchup for Vermont though as they play similar to Purdue, just not as good. Iowa State is the team to watch for me though. They have the potential to lose to Nevada or finish in the Final Four and I wouldn’t be surprised. However, Deonte Burton is starting to figure out his game and be patient while Monte Morris is going to be the best point guard on the floor in pretty much every game. I value that. That’s where I think they avoid the upset and then beat Kansas for a second time.
The bottom half could get loose with URI, Oklahoma State and Michigan. This Rhode Island team is better than a No. 11 seed. That’s what happens when you have injuries all throughout the year and don’t figure shit out until late. On the flip side Oregon missing Chris Boucher is bigger than what people are letting on. URI has the athletes to guard a Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey, while protecting the rim. If Boucher is healthy, Oregon comes out of this region, but URI is the matchup they don’t want without him.
Do I worry about Louisville scoring? Absolutely. But, if they get Oklahoma State, they can turn the Cowboys over. Oklahoma State can get a little careless with the ball, ranking 152nd in turnover percentage, which isn’t surprising with how fast they play offensively. If Louisville gets past Oklahoma State, I love the way the bracket breaks for them. URI/Oregon are defensive-minded teams. Remember this is a team that didn’t have Snider or Hicks for a portion of the regular season. They are better than what we’ve seen and I think you see Snider have a good NCAA Tournament.
Good luck figuring this one out. I put UNC in the Final Four strictly because of the cakewalk they should have to the Elite Eight. That bottom half of the bracket will beat up on each other and yu could talk me into any team not named NKU or Kent State to make the Elite Eight from there.
I’m taking Dayton over Wichita State strictly to be a contrarian. Everyone is taking Wichita State, forgetting that this is a good Dayton team who won the A-10. I’ll ride with the Flyers as everyone cheers for that Wichita State/Kentucky rematch.
Minnesota will be playing without Akeem Springs, who is a very important part to that team. That’s where I’m going MTSU. The 3-headed trio of Williams/Potts/Upshaw is good enough to compete with major conferences. Butler has been very inconsistent this year and while it’s trendy, I’ll take MTSU in the Sweet 16.
So there’s my Final four. Three No. 2 seeds and a No. 1 seed. I try to go opposite of people so I’m putting Louisville in the title game with Arizona getting by Duke. Ultimately, I like this Arizona team a lot. They are really strong defensively, have a top-10 NBA prospect and are really just starting to hit stride after Trier missed 19 games. Throw in the fact they have a top-10 coach and are deep both on the wing and in the post and there’s your champ. Again, you for sure want to fade me. Let me know your picks @barstoolreags.