Ah, March Madness. There’s nothing like watching the Selection Show and seeing the leaked bracket online already. Oh wait… that wasn’t supposed to happen. The unexpected and wild happenings of the NCAA Tournament have leaked out of the games and into the bracket reveal itself. Speaking of unexpected, let’s take a look at the East region of the bracket. If you need an introduction into the NCAA Tournament, I suggest you go read our review of the South region. It has a great summary of the rules (and lack of) that come with the tournament and making your picks for our Tournament Challenge group (shameless plug).
Let’s dive right in with the 1 seed of this bracket, North Carolina. North Carolina has an incredibly rich history of success and this year is no different. Even struggling with some consistency issues, UNC won both the ACC regular season and tournament championships against a deep ACC field featuring Duke, Miami, and Notre Dame. Speaking of Notre Dame, they make an appearance here as a 6 seed. As a team with some consistency issues of its own, Notre Dame may be a team that shocks some people, whether it’s in a good way or bad way, we will see.
The East also features an arguably under-seeded Kentucky and Indiana at 4 and 5 respectively, with the chance for a very exciting matchup in the round of 32. Rounding out your top 5 teams here are Xavier at 2 and West Virginia at 3. Xavier had a great season and reached their highest ranking ever. West Virginia had a great season and even made it to the Big 12 Conference championship finals.
The 2 play in games in this region are Florida Gulf Coast vs. Fairleigh Dickinson for the 16 seed and Michigan vs. Tulsa for the 11 seed. Tulsa is considered by many to be an enigma in this tournament field in that no one saw them making the tournament at all after their awful loss to a bad Memphis team in the American Athletic Conference championship.
So no tournament bracket is complete without some upsets. We have a few in this bracket, some I believe in and one that I really hope for and could potentially see. I have 10-seed Pitt taking out 7-seed Wisconsin, the badgers have struggled this year and those struggles will continue here. I also have 6-seed Notre Dame knocking off 3-seed West Viirginia in the round of 32 and 2-seed Xavier in the Sweet Sixteen. I promised you a crazy upset and that upset is 12-seed Chattanooga over 5-seed Indiana. Now, a 5-seed has lost to a 12-seed every year it seems so that in itself is not a shock. Indiana has underachieved at times and just isn’t the dominant team they sometimes are. Full disclosure, I am from Tennessee so I always want to cheer for a team from Tennessee. While this is a bit of a home-grown pick, Chattanooga has a strong team this year and could easily go off on Indiana.
Notre Dame’s magic will run out come the Elite 8 when they run into ACC-rival UNC. UNC will easily handle its FGCU/FDU opponent, USC, and Kentucky before they handle Notre Dame thus marching straight into the Final Four. There’s nothing exciting about picking the 1-seed to go to the Final Four, but hey, it doesn’t always happen. You can see my full picks for the East below.
I made these picks just after the bracket was released and based them off of my own knowledge of the teams and what I saw from them recently more than their overall seasons. Momentum has a lot to do with this tournament and that went into a lot of these.
So make your picks, forecast a little Madness, and just have fun with it.