Since the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament kicks off with 16 games on Friday and another 16 on Saturday, you’ve probably consulted several hoop gurus, signed up with your friends and either filled out a bracket or entered an office pool – maybe both.
If you’re wondering what the “experts” are saying, this is what you need to know.
On Thursday, I saw a preview of six potential disruptions in the first round, including two of the 12 seeds: Winthrop over Villanova and Georgetown over Colorado. Overall, the 12th seed is 50-90 against the fifth seed, with three wins the last time the NCAA Tournament was played in 2019.
“Winthrop is a dangerous team,” ESPN analyst and former coach Seth Greenberg said on Sunday. ‘Talk about a team that plays fast. They explode up and down on the floor. This team bounces the ball back. Toughness. ”
Overall, I like Gonzaga winning six games in a row and becoming the first unbeaten men’s champion since Bob Knight’s Indiana team in 1976.
I do not go out much of the limbs out there. Former President Barack Obama the Bulldogs beat Illinois in the championship game in its bracket. He selected every number 1 in the Final Four, while Baylor and Michigan lost in the national semifinals. Obama lost to Cade Cunningham, the predicted No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, and the state of Oklahoma in the round of 16 against Ayo Dosunmu and the No. 1 city of Illinois, but I want to disagree. I like Oklahoma State to go deep, at least after the Final Four.
Obama also has No. 13 in Ohio upsetting a Virginia team in No. 4 dealing with virus-related issues, and no. 10 Rutgers overturning Clemson No. 7 in the first NCAA tournament since 1991.
“I think Rutgers has the chance to not only advance this game, but possibly beyond this game as well,” said Greenberg, who has won nearly 400 career games in Cal State Long Beach, South Florida and Virginia Tech. “I like their team a lot.”
Greenberg lets Baylor win the championship. As for his ESPN colleagues, Jay Bilas and Dick Vitale both selected Coach Mark Few and Gonzaga to win the program’s first national championship, while LaPhonso selected Ellis Baylor.
“I do not know that this is the best team Mark Few has ever had,” Bilas told ESPN on Sunday. ‘That 2017 team that went to the finals against North Carolina was more physically impressive. But this is the best attacking team. This is absolutely a beautiful attacking team. ”
No other team, according to Bilas, can stop Gonzaga’s top three players: Jalen Suggs, Corey Kispert and Drew Timme. And their fourth best player, Joel Ayayi, has the only triple in program history.
It is noteworthy that Gonzaga has already beaten the second, third and fourth seeds – Iowa, Kansas and Virginia – in the Western region. The Bulldogs scored 102 points against Kansas in November. They dropped 99 on Iowa, which features National Player of the Year favorite Luka Garza, and 99 on Virginia, the 2019 champion. So it goes without saying that the Bulldogs will feel confident against all of these teams when they meet again.
“I like the Zags’ chances,” Vitale told ESPN. “I like it a lot.”
He continues: ‘I will record now. They’re going to draw a Bobby Knight, 1976. They’re going 32-0. They are going to win this tournament. ”
Greenberg and Ellis, the former Notre Dame star, will take on Baylor, who have been unbeaten for much of the season and won the Big 12 title in the regular season under coach Scott Drew.
Assuming Jared Butler and the Bears pass the no. 16 Hartford come, they could have a tough second-round game against North Carolina or Wisconsin. Ellis said the Tar Heels could make it interesting for Baylor.
“If North Carolina can get past Wisconsin, it’s very offensive to Baylor,” Ellis said. “As good as they are defensive, they are very long.”
He said he thinks North Carolina could create problems for the Bears if they ‘can dominate the boards and keep them from turning their young rugby field around.’
Cunningham and the state of Oklahoma were probably inferior in fourth place, and now they could get first place in Illinois in the round of 16. It could be an early end to Cunningham’s college career if he leaves for the NBA draft, or it could be a chance for him to shine on a big stage in front of his 2-year-old daughter, Riley, and the upset to too awake.
Even before that, the Cowboys opened up against a tough Liberty team (23-5) and then the potential for the Southeastern Conference Tennessee (18-8).
“If I pick one team that has won the worst draw: Oklahoma State,” Bilas said.
Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News, a longtime basketball basketball writer, likes to see Gonzaga beat the SEC’s regular season and tournament champion, Alabama, in one national semifinal, with Illinois as Purdue in the other. He has Gonzaga over Illinois in the final, just like Obama. Choosing Purdue to take a jog is a smart move, as the Boilermakers will play all the matches in their home country.
“The Zags were the best team in the country since the season started,” DeCourcy wrote. “And while their dominance over the West Coast Conference was even more overt than usual, as they were not forced to face all the crazy crowds in bandbox gyms, the WCC final against BYU showed they could be resilient. . “
Of course, it’s always wise to sign up for Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight. He has Gonzaga with a chance of 43 percent of the championship match and a 28 percent chance of winning the title. Illinois, the Big Ten tournament champion, has a 27 percent chance of winning the title and a 15 percent chance of winning it.
Baylor follows with a 24 percent chance of playing the championship and a 13 percent chance of hitting the nets. Juwan Howard’s Michigan club is at 7 percent to play the championship and 3 percent to win it.
Among the No. 2 seed, Iowa has a 6 percent chance of winning, Houston has a 5 percent chance, the state of Ohio is at 4 percent and Alabama is at 3 percent.
Cunningham and Oklahoma State have less than a 1 percent chance, per FiveThirtyEight. In the past ten years, only two NBA drafts have reached the final four: Anthony Davis in 2012 and Karl-Anthony Towns in 2015, both with Kentucky. Davis is the only one to have won the title in that span.