This week, the staff of Lions Television (LTV) and The Signal face off to see who can predict the madness that is the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament.
By EJ Paras
LTV Director of Media and PR
Watching this season as a casual fan, it really caught me by surprise to see how tumultuous the rankings have been. Powerhouse teams like Kentucky and Duke falling out of favor in the rankings at times? That’s amazing. The heroics of Buddy Hield, the lack of Louisiana State University in any tournament with Ben Simmons — lots of great stories this year. My final four is pretty conservative in terms of rank, but how these teams get there in my brackets are pretty interesting: I have the University of North Carolina (UNC) vs. Michigan State, and Kansas vs. Oklahoma in my Final Four. I then have UNC beating Oklahoma at the national championship by a score of 68-62. I really don’t have too many bold picks, but a few of my choices stand out. I have last year’s runner-up, Wisconsin, going out in the Round of 64 against Pittsburg and Northern Iowa beating Texas in the Round of 64. As far as how I treated the No. 1 ranked teams, Virginia is the only one in my bracket that does not make it into the Elite Eight, while I have Oregon losing in the Sweet Sixteen, Kansas going down in the Final Four and UNC ultimately winning the whole shebang (call it my bias, but whatever — filling out these brackets is really hard!). Best of luck everyone!
By Michael Battista
The selection committee may be coming under fire by some for some egregious snubs, but this year’s tournament looks to be (and has been) one of the best in recent memory. My Final Four consists of No. 1 Kansas, No. 4 Kentucky, No. 4 Duke and No. 2 Michigan State. Call me crazy for having two No. 4 seeds in there, but Kentucky always seems to go all out when they need to most and Duke’s regular season impressed a lot of people. Kansas will redeem themselves from 2012 and beat Kentucky, 67-59. There is a plethora of upsets that I see coming this year, starting off with the No. 12 seed, Ivy League Yale Bulldogs knocking off the No. 5 seed Baylor. Yale’s first appearance in the big dance after a 54 years drought comes during an impressive 23-6 season. The Ivy League has been impressive the past few years, with Harvard getting to the second round in 2015, and I think the trend continues this year. Another upset I predict is No. 13 seed Hawaii taking down No. 4 California. While I know Hawaii is a good team, Cali isn’t a major threat. The losses during the season against Colorado and Arizona just show me they can get sloppy in their game. The off nights are big and if that happens again, the luau will be massive.
By Sean Reis
“LET’S GO TAR HEELS!” — never have I ever uttered such an appalling phrase before. However, this year, Roy Williams and the University of North Carolina is my pick to win NCAA’s March Madness. Joining the Tar Heels in the Final Four, I have Kansas, Texas A&M and Michigan State, but come Monday, April 4, the Tar Heels will sadly have to end Texas A&M’s Cinderella Story to become the NCAA National Champions. Before the championship, I picked many upsets because season after season, there have seemed to be more and more. Starting in the South region, No. 11 Wichita State upsetting No. 6 seed Arizona, as well as No. 7 Iowa also losing to No. 10 Temple, who will “keep calm and cherry on” to later upset the second seeded Villanova in the Round of 32. Back to the Round of 64 though, I also have No. 12 Yale over No. 5 Baylor and No. 10 Virginia Commonwealth over No. 7 Oregon State in the West. Next, for the Round of 32, I picked another upset with the East’s two seeded Xavier University losing to the No. 7 University of Wisconsin. Nonetheless, until the end of the tournament this Duke Blue Devils fan will be yelling… Go Tar Heels?
By Otto Gomez
LTV Sports Producer
March Madness, for the most part, comes down to star players and head coaches on each team. I think this year will be no exception, as I have No. 2 Michigan State coming out triumphant in my bracket. Their head coach, Tom Izzo, has led the Spartans to a national championship and seven Final Fours during his tenure, while making the Tournament 19 years in a row and only missing it his first two seasons with the team. To go along with that, Denzel Valentine has proved himself a candidate for the John R. Wooden all year along with his excellent play. Together, I believe they will go far this year. To round out the Final Four, I have No. 2 Oklahoma, led by fellow Wooden candidate Buddy Hield, No. 3 Miami, a well-coached under-the-radar team, and No. 9 Providence, led by star point guard Kris Dunn. While I don’t have a lot of huge upsets other than Providence, and No. 12 Yale over No. 4 Duke, I think crazy things can, and will happen, as they do every year in the tournament. Further, to prove how wrong I will be about my picks, I have made a second bracket with all opposite upsets and a different Final Four entirely. Let’s hope I submitted the right one in this group.
ESPN BRACKET STANDINGS
(As of March 21)
1: Sean Reis
Projected Points Remaining: 1120
Percent Correct: 92.1%
2: EJ Paras
Projected Points Remaining: 1080
Percent Correct: 73.9%
3: Otto Gomez
Projected Points Remaining: 480
Percent Correct: 36.5%
4: Michael Battista
Projected Points Remaining: 800
Percent Correct: 22.6%
If you’d like to follow the standings live, visit our ESPN Bracket group.