“Madness” is defined as the state of being mad; insanity. The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament being placed in March engulfs the month in madness like no other. Everyone filling out a bracket sets out hoping for the perfect bracket to claim glory and exquisite prizes. A day or two into the tournament nearly everyone switches to a mindset of “I hope I have the least wrong.” It is nearly impossible to predict a perfect bracket. In my personal experience I have been just over a handful of picks off of a perfect bracket, but I have also bombed out multiple times in the first few rounds when one of my final four teams gets upset early on. When it comes to this tournament, anything can happen, anyone can win. With all that being said, here are my predictions for this year’s tournament’s West region. Oh and if you haven’t already you have until noon today to submit your bracket(s), click here to join our bracket group.
Diving right in, a #1 seed has yet to be beaten by a #16 seed and I don’t expect Oregon to end this trend.
#8 and #9 seed matchups are usually tough to choose simply because both teams are near a similar level of performance and either could move on to most likely lose against the #1 seed of the region. I don’t think this matchup between #8 St Joe’s and #9 Cincinnati does much to break that trend. I expect St. Joe’s to walk away with the victory, as they recently did in the Atlantic 10 (A10) Conference Tournament beating Virginia Commonwealth University. Peeking into the Round of 32, I expect #1 Oregon to stay afloat against St. Joe’s, but I am also expecting St. Joe’s to push the #1 seed more than they expected.
I am not impressed by the #5 Baylor Bears, but I also don’t expect them to lose to #12-seeded Yale either, so I am taking them to win this as their lone game victory of this year’s tournament. I am expecting #4 Duke to end their run after defeating #13 UNC Wilmington, who is just returning to the tournament for the first time in over a decade.
The next matchup down the line catches my attention quite a bit. I could see both teams, #6 Texas and #11 Northern Iowa, having a strong shot at winning this one. Both teams travel well and both teams bring a strong competitive edge when the game is on the line. Personally, I took Texas in this one mainly because of their coach, Shaka Smart. He was the same coach that led VCU on a few improbable runs in the tournament and come March I have a hard time betting against him to win a few games. Again, that is just what I decided on, but this matchup could easily go either way.
#3 Texas A&M should steamroll #14 Green Bay and set them up for a Texas showdown with their rival state team or against a feisty Northern Iowa team. If they end up taking on Texas, I have Texas pulling off the upset and getting revenge for the 11 point loss they had to A&M earlier in the season. If A&M takes on Northern Iowa, I expect that victory to go to Texas A&M.
#7 Oklahoma State and #10 VCU is another enticing matchup to look for an upset in. I am taking VCU to win this one behind first year head coach Will Wade and his adoption of Smart’s strong pressure “havoc” defense.
I expect #2 Oklahoma to beat #15 CSU Bakersfield with no problem, as many should expect.
Moving into the Round of 32, again I expect St. Joe’s to push Oregon a bit, but in the end Oregon should advance to the Sweet 16. I am taking Duke over Baylor and Oklahoma over VCU (or Oklahoma State) with no hesitation. The matchup that catches me up in this round for the West region is the Texas/Northern Iowa vs Texas A&M/Green Bay. In my bracket I am taking Texas to upset their rivals, Texas A&M, but in the end I could see either Texas team emerging from this spot.
In the Sweet 16 I am taking #4 Duke to continue their tournament run and proving that even an inconsistent Atlantic Coastal Conference (ACC) team can beat a consistent Pacific-12 (PAC 12) Conference team. I am also taking #2 Oklahoma to beat whichever Texas team makes it into the Sweet 16 behind an impressive Buddy Hield performance.
For me, the winner of the region will come down to an exciting game between #4 Duke and #2 Oklahoma. Personally, I am taking Oklahoma to win the region and honestly advance to the finals as well.
All-in-all, anything can happen, anyone can win; that is what makes March Madness so exciting. I would much rather have my bracket get busted in the first round because of a ton of crazy, unexpected upsets, as opposed to a boring tournament with mainly top seeds advancing. We’ll have to wait and see though! Games start today just after 12:00 PM EST!
Best of luck!