Official BSR March Madness Predictions
Written by Remy Johnson on March 16, 2018
Trust no one.
Don’t pick with your heart.
Stick to your gut.
These are three things that will help you in filling out your bracket.
What makes March Madness unique, is its consistency in making sports “experts” look foolish.
No one knows exactly what’s going to happen but I will attempt to dissect the field to the best of my ability.
Here goes nothing.
Round of 64: South Region
#1 Virginia over #16 UMBC
There’s not much to discuss here. Keep reading.
#8 Creighton over #9 Kansas State
Kansas State’s two best players Barry Brown and Dean Wade are both dealing with injuries. If they were healthy, I might take K-State. They’re not, so I’ll take Creighton.
#5 Kentucky over #12 Davidson
This will most likely be a close game, so mistakes will need to be kept to a minimum. Davidson executes their offense at a high level typically but Kentucky can force them into some tough looks. I trust John Calipari to get his team out of the first round.
#4 Arizona over #13 Buffalo
Arizona’s Deandre Ayton will be forced to guard Buffalo’s Jeremy Harris on the perimeter. The problem with that is, when the roles are reversed, Harris (6’7) will be no match for Ayton inside which will likely get him in foul trouble. I’ll take the Wildcats.
#11 Loyola of Chicago over #6 Miami
Loyola plays a slow, grind-it-out style, shoots the ball at a high level and plays good defense. Sound familiar? That’s the same recipe conference foe Northern Iowa had in past NCAA tournament runs and I expect the Ramblers to have similar success.
#3 Tennessee over #14 Wright State
Rick Barnes has been there, done that in terms of opening-round tournament games. (12 opening-round wins) Barnes will get the Vols into the next round.
#10 Texas over #7 Nevada
Texas was on the bubble, but now that nightmare is over, which will allow them to relax and play their game. The Longhorns are playing their best ball of the season and will have Mo Bamba back after he missed some time with a toe injury. Nevada struggles with teams who have a lot of length (they lost to San Diego State twice in a week) and the Longhorns have plenty of size. Nevada is 0-2 against the Big 12 this season, after this game they’ll be 0-3.
#2 Cincinnati over #15 Georgia State
Georgia State coach Ron Hunter will wish he had his son R.J. to try and score on the stifling Cincy D.
Round of 64: East Region
#1 Villanova over #16 Radford
Radford allows its opponents to shoot over 38 percent from deep. Villanova is good at shooting threes. I’d be impressed if Radford kept the game within 20 points.
#8 Virginia Tech over #9 Alabama
As much as I want to see Collin Sexton and the Tide win a game, Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams is 4-2 in opening-round games. He’ll push that mark to 5-2.
#5 West Virginia over #12 Murray State
Murray State has won 13 straight games, which is undoubtedly a great accomplishment. However, none of those games presented a challenge like West Virginia will bring. Nicknamed “Press Virginia” for its style of pressure defense, the Mountaineers will swarm the Racers and put an end to their 13-game streak.
#4 Wichita State over #13 Marshall
If you like high-scoring games with tons of action, make sure you watch this game. Marshall is coached by Dan D’Antoni (brother of Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni) who has implemented a great pace-and-space system. Wichita State is typically known for its defense, but that’s not the case this year. I expect the Shockers to pull it out but it won’t be easy.
#11 St. Bonaventure over #6 Florida
The Gators have been inconsistent all year but they do have good guard play. The problem for the Gators is that St. Bona has good guards too. The Bonnies’ 1-2 duo of Matt Mobley and Jaylen Adams didn’t even play well in the team’s First Four win over UCLA, going a combined 6-30 from the field. I don’t expect them to shoot that poorly again.
#3 Texas Tech over #14 Stephen F. Austin
Texas Tech star Keenan Evans suffered a toe injury February 17 which resulted in the Red Raiders losing four straight games. Evans looked like himself in the Big 12 tournament, that spells trouble for SFA.
#7 Arkansas over #10 Butler
Butler is always a tough out but Arkansas is on a roll. They’ve won eight of their last 11 games and Daniel Gafford will give the Bulldogs fits in the post.
#2 Purdue over #15 Cal State Fullerton
Cal State Fullerton has one player taller than 6’7. To beat Purdue, you need somebody big and strong enough to handle Isaac Haas down low.
Round of 64: Midwest Region
#1 Kansas over #16 Penn
Did you know that a western meadowlark is Kansas’ state bird? Me either, keep reading.
#9 NC State over #8 Seton Hall
While Seton Hall will likely win the rebounding battle, NC State is the better scoring team and will use that to its advantage.
#12 New Mexico State over #5 Clemson
New Mexico State has an elite defense and a great guard in Zach Lofton. He will take over this game en-route to an upset.
#13 College of Charleston over #4 Auburn
Auburn’s specialty is forcing turnovers but Charleston is one of the least turnover-prone teams in the country. And I don’t like how Auburn looked at all in the SEC tournament against Alabama.
#11 Syracuse over #6 TCU
I expect Syracuse to suffocate TCU and win an ugly contest.
#3 Michigan State over #14 Bucknell
Bucknell is 0-3 against major-conference teams this year. They’ll be 0-4 after they lose to the Spartans.
#10 Oklahoma over #7 Rhode Island
Oklahoma was one of the highly-criticized teams that made the tournament on Selection Sunday. I just have a hunch that Trae Young and company will come out firing on all cylinders and pull the upset.
#2 Duke over #15 Iona
Remember when Lehigh beat Duke in the 2-15 matchup in 2012? Yeah, C.J. McCollum isn’t walking through that door. Duke will dominate the glass in this game and march to the next round.
Round of 64: West Region
#1 Xavier over #16 Texas Southern
Xavier is located in Cincinnati, Ohio. Next matchup, please.
#9 Florida State over #8 Missouri
Missouri’s turnovers will haunt them in this game, I don’t care if Michael Porter Jr. is back.
#12 South Dakota State over #5 Ohio State
If you haven’t heard of Mike Daum before, you will after this game. Ohio State had a good run this season but it’ll come to an end.
#4 Gonzaga over #13 UNC-Greensboro
UNCG simply put, does not have the firepower to knock off Gonzaga.
#6 Houston over #11 San Diego State
Both teams are excellent defensively and San Diego State has won nine straight games, but Rob Gray will take this game over down the stretch and lead Houston to a victory.
#3 Michigan over #14 Montana
I don’t like the long layoff for Michigan but it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. This is the best defense John Beilein has ever had.
#10 Providence over #7 Texas A&M
The experience and toughness of the Friars will trump the talented Aggies.
#2 North Carolina over #15 Lipscomb
Roy Williams is undefeated in the first round of the NCAA tournament. That trend will continue.
Round of 32: South Region
#1 Virginia over #8 Creighton
Creighton likes to run and get out in the open court. It’s too bad for them that Virginia is one of the best teams in the country in terms of dictating pace.
#4 Arizona over #5 Kentucky
In a battle of the Wildcats, Arizona will come out on top due to its ability to wear Kentucky down inside.
#3 Tennessee over #11 Loyola of Chicago
Both teams will want to play a slow pace but the difference maker in this game will be Tennessee’s big man Grant Williams.
#2 Cincinnati over #10 Texas
Texas isn’t a good-enough shooting team to beat the Bearcats. Cincinnati wins in a low-scoring affair.
Round of 32: East Region
#1 Villanova over #8 Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech won’t be afraid on this stage as they already have big wins against Virginia, Duke and North Carolina. Villanova lost in last year’s tournament to Wisconsin in the round of 32. That won’t happen two years in a row.
#4 Wichita State over #5 West Virginia
Both teams have Final Four potential. Wichita State is led by their offense and West Virginia is led by their defense. The Shockers have struggled against penetrating guards all season long but they should be able to make a play or two more than WVU.
#3 Texas Tech over #11 St. Bonaventure
Texas Tech is one of the best half-court defensive teams in the country. St. Bona won’t be able to put up enough points to win.
#7 Arkansas over #2 Purdue
Daniel Gafford has the size and strength to battle with Isaac Haas down low. Purdue also has trouble with quick, penetrating guards. I’ll take the Hogs in an upset.
Round of 32: Midwest Region
#1 Kansas over #9 NC State
Similarly to Virginia Tech, NC State won’t be afraid of the spotlight against Kansas. The Wolfpack beat North Carolina, Duke and Arizona this season. Devonte Graham isn’t on any of those teams, though. I’ll take the Jayhawks in a close one.
#12 New Mexico State over #13 College of Charleston
New Mexico State coach Chris Jans spent a lot of time working under Gregg Marshall at Wichita State. His team won’t be intimidated by the stage and will stand out as the bigger Cinderella.
#3 Michigan State over #11 Syracuse
Syracuse plays great defense but they will still need to score points to beat the Spartans. That won’t happen.
#2 Duke over #10 Oklahoma
Trae Young will probably go off in this game and it wouldn’t necessarily surprise me if Duke loses this game. The Blue Devils have the advantage inside and need to be disciplined enough to feed Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter the rock.
Round of 32: West Region
#1 Xavier over #9 Florida State
Xavier blew out Florida State last year in the round of 32. While the score may not be as lopsided, the Musketeers will move on.
#4 Gonzaga over #12 South Dakota State
The Mike Daum show will come to an end, as Gonzaga has too many different bodies to throw at him.
#3 Michigan over #6 Houston
Rob Gray turned me into a fan this season but he will meet his kryptonite in this game: Zavier Simpson. Simpson held opposing point guards to 25 percent shooting in the Big Ten tourney.
#2 North Carolina over #10 Providence
Joel Berry and Theo Pinson will lead their team to a victory over the feisty Friars.
Sweet 16: South Region
#4 Arizona over #1 Virginia
The loss of De’Andre Hunter looms large in this game. While I still think this is a very close game, Arizona’s depth will be the difference. Look for Allonzo Trier to make big shots down the stretch for the Wildcats.
#3 Tennessee over #2 Cincinnati
This game will be a slugfest. The difference will be the Vols’ ability to shoot the deep ball better than Cincy.
Sweet 16: East Region
#1 Villanova over #4 Wichita State
There’s no doubt in my mind that the Shockers can keep this game close but it’s their late-game execution (or lack thereof) that scares me. I trust Nova’s execution over Wichita State’s.
#3 Texas Tech over #7 Arkansas
Keenan Allen will show you why he’s the best player on the court, sending the Razorbacks home in a thrilling contest.
Sweet 16: Midwest Region
#1 Kansas over #12 New Mexico State
Udoka Azubuike, who sprained his knee before the Big 12 tournament, should be closer to being 100 percent. If that’s the case, it’ll be tough for the Aggies to get past him.
#3 Michigan State over #2 Duke
This is such a tough game to call. This is a rematch of a Champions Classic matchup in November. Marvin Bagley didn’t play in much of that game but Grayson Allen scored 37 points. Bagley’s presence does make a difference but I don’t think Allen will have that type of a performance again. Michigan State knocks down 41 percent of their threes. They’ll make Duke pay for playing zone and win a tight one.
Sweet 16: West Region
#4 Gonzaga over #1 Xavier
The Zags demolished Xavier 83-59 last year in the Elite Eight. The Musketeers are better than they were last year and the Bulldogs aren’t exactly the same team from last year but they’re still really talented. Gonzaga will send Xavier home yet again.
#2 North Carolina over #3 Michigan
These two teams are evenly matched. A lot of people will take Michigan in this game. I expect Carolina to use that as motivation and will themselves to a victory.
South Regional Final
#4 Arizona over #3 Tennessee
Trier’s shot-making ability and Ayton’s ableness to deal with Grant Williams down low will lift the Wildcats into the Final Four.
East Regional Final
#1 Villanova over #3 Texas Tech
Mikal Bridges should be able to match Keenan Evans’ effectiveness. Nova can play at any pace and win too, another thing that makes them dangerous.
Midwest Regional Final
#3 Michigan State over #1 Kansas
Big 12 teams couldn’t consistently make Kansas pay for playing small. Michigan State will make them pay in a big way. Sparty will crash the glass to a tee and send Kansas home.
West Regional Final
#4 Gonzaga over #2 North Carolina
In a rematch of last year’s title game, Gonzaga gets sweet revenge as UNC will not be able to keep up with the Zags firepower.
#4 Gonzaga over #4 Arizona
Gonzaga’s hunger to get back to the title game in a battle of 4-seeds.
#3 Michigan State over #1 Villanova
Sparty takes out another 1-seed as they control the glass against Nova.
#3 Michigan State over #4 Gonzaga
Gonzaga won’t run into a deeper/more talented team than Michigan State. The Spartans can match what the Zags do offensively and they rebound at a higher rate than the Bulldogs. Sparty will be crowned national champs for the first time since 2000.