I love Bracket Monday! It also happens to be National Napping Day, but this is no time to be sleeping.
Today is the day that I will accomplish very little at work (let’s just keep that between us). But if you are at all like me, today is spent printing physical copies of brackets, filling out bracket after bracket until you find just the right combination of sure winners and guaranteed upsets.
I want to help you out with my own oracle predictions and 2018 nNCAA Tournament thoughts.
Not only are these teams double-digit seeds capable of winning their first-round match up. But these teams are capable of earning a trip to the second weekend.
This team is vastly underseeded, they took down Florida on the road earlier in the year, they have won 17 of their last 18 games and finished in first place in the Missouri Valley by 4 games. They have 5 guys who average double-figures scoring, giving them some balance. Their lack of a dominant scorer may hinder the Ramblers but their differential between offensive and defensive efficiency is what makes them a contender for the second weekend. I really like them in their Miami match up, but I’m not as thrilled about their potential second round opponent, Tennessee.
The top-ranked 12-seed (according to KenPom) against the lowest ranked 5-seed (Clemson) but once again this comes down to their differential. A top-15 defense and a great rebounding team. Could be dangerous.
- 14 - Stephen F Austin Lumberjacks
The Lumberjacks lead the nation in turnover % and they are good at hitting threes. If they can take care of the ball themselves, Texas Tech forces a lot of turnovers too, they could pull off a huge win. Also worth watching as their top 3 scorers are underclassmen and this team could be dangerous in 2019. It’s never too early.
Final Four Picks
South Region - Virginia Cavaliers
This team’s defense is just so dang good. They have a really interesting region where you have Cincinnati and Tennessee who also play great defense. You also have to get through Arizona or Kentucky who have some elite talent, both are tough to beat when they are playing well. But I’ll go chalk in this region, defense is just so dang good.
West Region - Michigan Wolverines
This region is wide open and I don’t “love” anybody. It really could be Gonzaga vs. Michigan, or even Houston with a Cinderella run. But Michigan is hot, they shoot the ball very well and play good defense. They’ve won 11 out of their last 12 including wins over Michigan State and Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament.
East Region - Villanova
So much offensive firepower. If they face West Virginia in the Sweet 16, that could make for a fun match up with the defense of the Mountaineers. And maybe Purdue could show them some Big Ten physicality. But this team is too talented to keep out of San Antonio.
Midwest Region - Duke
I think that Michigan State v Duke match up determines the winner of this region. I’m not sold on Kansas. But Duke is just too strong and should win what will be a great game against the Spartans. Top 10 offense and defense, #1 in the country in offensive rebounding % and they have star power all around. As much as it pains me to type it, I think it’s Duke out of the Midwest. In other years I’d be rooting for Michigan State, but that luster has worn off for me.
Future Gopher Coaching Candidates
I’m not remotely on the bandwagon of letting Richard Pitino go, not remotely. This is really more tongue in cheek as these guys are the sons of former Gopher coaches. So OBVIOUSLY they have deep emotional ties to the University of Minnesota and would love nothing more than to come back here and build a winner.
Eric Musselman - Nevada
Son of Bill Musselman. Eric has experience throughout the NBA and has settled in at Nevada for the last three seasons. This year’s Wolfpack has been ranked for much of the season and is poised to make some NCAA Tourney noise. If the Gophers needed a new coach, he’d be the top name on my list.
Brian Dutcher - San Diego State
The son Jim Dutcher. The younger Dutcher has been a loyal assistant to Steve Fisher for 18 years and is finally getting a chance to lead a program of his own. He has the Aztecs in the Big Dance in his first season and gets an under-seeded Houston team.
NCAA Tournament Dashboard
Lastly, here is my handy little dashboard to help you pick your NCAA Tournament teams with efficiency stats.