Despite TBS putting on one of the most painful Selection Sunday shows of all-time, the bracket is still out. Madness is about to ensue for sixty-eight of the best teams in college basketball, as well as for every working stiff who lined up to get a vasectomy just before tip-off. Now while many assume it is already a forgone conclusion that their wacky aunt or office assistant will take home their prize pool, others (like me) still analyze the bracket like its a Maxim centerfold. So without further ado, I give you the Snapple Jackson NCAA March Madness Tournament Breakdown. Hopefully it will finally help you take down your grandma once and for all.
NCAA March Madness Tournament Breakdown
The South Region is frightening at the top. You have got the number one overall seed in Virginia, a hot Kentucky team fresh off an SEC Tourney win and perhaps the nations best player in DeAndre Ayton of Arizona. Whichever team makes it out of that mess will surely be battle-tested enough to take down anyone.
The bottom half however is not nearly as intimidating. Texas flat out did not deserve a spot in the madness over teams like Oklahoma State and USC. Miami has a legitimate chance to be knocked off in the first round by Loyola-Chicago (28-5), whose stingy defense only allowed 63 PPG on average in the regular season. And while Cincinnati certainly had a stellar season, do not be surprised if Nevada takes them to the brink in the round of 32.
Best Chance for Round of 64 Upset: 11 Loyola-Chicago over Miami
Team That Could Make a Run: 7 Nevada
Snapple Jackson Final Four Pick: 4 Arizona
Villanova has been gifted arguably the easiest path to the Final Four. Not only do they play in their home state, albeit about 5 hours away, but they also do not figure to be tested until at least the second weekend. A second round matchup would pit them against either Alabama, who lost 15 games this season, or Virginia Tech, who was bounced from the ACC tourney in their first game by Notre Dame. Outside of Purdue, who in my opinion is the weakest of the two seeds, there are not any world beaters in the East.
In a typical year, seeing Wichita State and West Virginia in your bracket would keep you up at night. But both teams finished with disappointing conference playoff performances and struggled against tournament selected teams during the regular season. It is no doubt that this bracket is filled with spectacular coaching talent, but Nova just seems far and away more complete than any other team suiting up.
Best Chance for Round of 64 Upset: 11 UCLA/St. Bonaventure over 6 Florida
Team That Could Make a Run: 12 Murray State
Snapple Jackson Final Four Pick: 1 Villanova
The West Region is shaping up nicely to be another uber-competitive bracket. There is UNC, who is on the cusp of their 3rd straight final four appearance. Xavier has their first number one seed in program history. The Missouri Tigers will have a well rested Michael Porter Jr., hungry to shine on the nations brightest stage. Not to mention you also have Houston, Providence and Gonzaga to worry about even if you do survive the opening salvo.
But with all that being said, I cannot help but to ride the hot hand. The Michigan Wolverines are scorching. Perhaps it is the spirit of Muhammad Ali (Abdur-Rahkman), but the team floated gracefully and stung like bee’s on their way to a Big Ten title. They feature a fierce defense, as well as one of the nations most under-appreciated talents in Moritz Wagner. There is no doubt in my mind that John Beilein will have his guys ready, despite all the time off in between their conference tourney. I can only hope for an Ohio State vs. Michigan matchup in the early goings.
Best Chance for Round of 64 Upset: 12 South Dakota State over 5 Ohio State
Team That Could Make a Run: 8 Missouri
Snapple Jackson Final Four Pick: 3 Michigan
Last but not least we have the Midwest Region. This quadrant features potentially the most appealing matchup that could come to fruition as the tournament unfolds, Duke vs. Michigan State. The two teams and iconic coaches have the opportunity to square off in a Sweet Sixteen game that would be poetry to college hoops fans. The game would be littered with top tier NBA prospects like Marvin Bagley, Jaren Jackson, Miles Bridges and Wendell Carter, among others. But I suppose there will be other teams taking the court in Omaha as well.
Kansas, the number one seed, is coming off what seems to be their millionth straight Big 12 Title, but could face a tough second round opponent regardless whether they get NC State or Seton Hall. Another team on upset alert are the Clemson Tigers, who the nation seems to unanimously be picking against in favor of New Mexico State. Finally we have Oklahoma and the dynamic Trae Young, who have been abysmal in recent weeks, but will be looking to spoil brackets and play Cinderella. There is certainly no shortage of exceptional talent throughout the Midwest, but there is still only one Coach K.
Best Chance for Round of 64 Upset: 13 Charleston over 4 Auburn
Team That Could Make a Run: 8 Seton Hall
Snapple Jackson Final Four Pick: 2 Duke
Final Four Predictions
Ayton is a generational talent, and with the veteran leadership that Arizona possesses, I think they can make some magic happen this tournament. Plus, it be great to see Sean Miller and the Wildcats stick it to the NCAA.
Final Four: Arizona over Michigan / Duke over Villanova
National Championship: Arizona over Duke