Bracket Breakdown

Copyright NCAA

WEST REGION:

1 Seed: Gonzaga

My Predicted Champion: Gonzaga

Sleepers: This bracket is on the easier side, so I do not expect to many upsets to happen in the early rounds. Everyone is big on the UCSB upset over Creighton, I just do not think that will happen, but I would not be surprised if it does. I like VCU over Oregon, and wish the Rams did not have to play Iowa in the next round, or they would be looking at a Sweet 16 run. Do not be surprised if the USC Trojans make an Elite 8 appearance.

Favorite Match-up: USC vs. Wichita St./Drake

One Scenario I Do Not Want to See: Virginia making a run. I am extremely over all of the Virginia hype and expecting them to make a run. It will not happen, I hope they lose in the first round, I would very much enjoy that.

This region of the bracket holds probable National Championship game participant Gonzaga. I am not willing to fully commit to saying National Champion, because part of me is still holding out hope that maybe a team could beat them, although that is getting tough to picture. Honestly do not think many upsets are going to happen and we will have a 1 / 2 Elite 8 game to see who makes it to the Final Four. Kansas seems to just fall short against Iowa in my eyes, and no one is coming close to Gonzaga from this region. If a team like USC can get hot, they can challenge, but I would pretty much pencil in Gonzaga for at least a Final Four appearance.

EAST REGION:

1 Seed: Michigan

My Predicted Champion: Texas

Sleepers: St. Bonaventure is an extremely hot team right now. Mark Schmidt finally breaks through in the A10 after a 10 year drought. I would not be surprised if they beat a very good LSU team in the first round and then Michigan in the second.

Favorite Match-up: It is between the LSU/ St. Bonaventure game and FSU/UNCG.

One Scenario I Would Not Mind Seeing: Michigan making to the Final Four out of this bracket. I am really enjoying watching Juwan Howard coach his Wolverines. Such a fun team to watch, seeing Howard take his alma mater to the Final Four would be a very wholesome moment.

Texas got an extremely good draw, and has a great chance to come out of this bracket. Alabama does not scare me that much, and I think they can easily be beat, especially by a hot Texas team. This is going to be an extremely fun bracket to watch, a bunch of hot teams that ended as lower seeds trying to pull of upsets, the side’s round of 32 match-ups could be insane.

SOUTH REGION:

1 Seed: Baylor

My Predicted Champion: Texas Tech

Sleepers: This North Carolina Tar Heels team seems to have finally found their identity just at the right time. Whatever happened after that loss against a not so good Marquette team seems to have worked, they are extremely hot. If they can get past Wisconsin in round one, that game against Baylor will be fun to watch. I expect the Tar Heels to make the Elite 8.

Favorite Match-Up: This side of the bracket is absolutely stacked from top to bottom. From a first round aspect of things, three games catch my eye, UNC/Wisconsin, Villanova/Winthrop, Florida/Virginia Tech.

One Scenario I Do Not Think Will Happen: Baylor being the champion of this bracket. There are way to many good teams for the 1 seed to end up going to the Final Four. This is by far the most intriguing bracket from top to bottom.

In my eyes there are a solid three teams that could end up winning this bracket. Ohio State, Texas Tech, and North Carolina. I really do not think that Baylor will win this thing, depending on who they play in the second round. But you talk about an absolute loaded bracket, you got yourself one in the South region of this years bracket.

MIDWEST REGION:

1 Seed: Illinois

My Predicted Champion: West Virginia

Sleepers: Two teams really standout in my mind as true sleepers, Loyola Chicago, and Cleveland St. Houston is matched up with an extremely hot team that if the Cougars do not take seriously, their time in Indy could be over quick. Loyola is fortunate Georgia Tech’s main guy is out for the first round, and maybe they can carry that momentum into a second round win against a beatable Illinois team.

Favorite Match-up: Houston/Cleveland St. or Clemson/Rutgers.

One Scenario I Hope Happens: Sister Jean brings home the natty. All I need to say.

This bracket will have the most intriguing Elite 8 match-up to see who goes to Final Four. Out of all those games, the one played in the Midwest Region will be the most talked about, whether it is Illinois, Sister Jean, Cade Cunningham, or Huggy bear, the Midwest will be the most chaotic side of the bracket.

National Champion: Gonzaga

Gonzaga is simply just to talented this season. Outside of conference play, they have played 4 other NCAA tournament teams. None being lower than a 4 seed, and they won every single contest. The closest was a 5 point game against a tough West Virginia, the other three were 10+ point victories for the Bulldogs. In my eyes no one really challenges them, but who knows, it is March after all.

Mid-Major Dive 2.0

Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina

From SoCon champions to losing their two highest scorers including Fletcher Magee. Also losing forward Keve Aluma as he transferred to Virginia Tech, their biggest loss could arguably be head coach Mike Young. Young began at Wofford as an assistant coach in 1989 and in 2002 finally became the head coach. To say he knew what kind of program Wofford was and how to coach them is an understatement. However, was he really that great of a coach? When you dive into the numbers behind you find he has a record of 299-244. 55 Games over 500 and that is not that bad, especially as a mid-major like Wofford, but could be better. He only won four SoCon conference championships, along with four coach of the year titles. And from all that, 5 NCAA tournament appearances, with only one win. And that sounds about on par when you compare mid-majors at a SoCon conference level. However, ONE NCAA tournament win in 17 years in a bit confusing. It was not until 2017 in the famous win over UNC that he got his first win over a top 25 team. But things are looking up for the Terriers.

The upcoming season presents a giant grey area for the Terriers. Yes they lost Fletcher, Cam, and Keve. But Nate Hoover is returning, Chevez Goodwin looks unstoppable(and probably will be in the SoCon), and Storm Murphy is ready for a bigger role. These are the three “big-name” players if you will on the team, but you look down their roster and every guy seems like he is capable of preforming and making up for the offseason losses. I’ve been fortunate enough to grow up watching Steph Curry in college, and I’ve also been able to watch Bob McKillop coach and run a 3 point shooting team. You might question what that has to do with Wofford, and here you go in a couple of points. 1. Nate Hoover can flat out shoot the damn ball. It is unbelievable the way he shoots it. The nation needs to be on watch for this kid. 2. Coach McAuley is going to run one of the best motion offenses in the NCAA this year. This will also translate into one of the highest 3 point percentages in the NCAA. 3. And finally, Chevez Goodwin is going to make a name for himself as one of the best defensive players in the NCAA. This guy is an absolute animal.

As for predictions for how their are going to do this season? It’s tough to say. Marquee games against Butler, Duke, and North Carolina are going to set the standard if the Terriers can hang with tournament teams. I have the Terriers going 20-9 and losing in the SoCon tournament to unfortunately not get a bid into the NCAA tournament. ETSU looks to strong this year but it will come down to either Wofford or ETSU, and even then it is a toss up. I can easily see the Terriers making it back to the big dance, and don’t be surprised when they do. Also, if they could potentially win 2 of the games against North Carolina, Butler, and Duke, then go undefeated in SoCon play like they did last year, an at-large bid would not be out of the question. Expect the Terriers to fight and play extremely well. Don’t be surprised when you see them near the top of many stat lists.

Mid-Major Dive

McKillop Court at Belk Arena in Davidson, North Carolina

This is going to be a new series I am going to start about diving into about different Mid-Major teams. Mid-Majors have it rough and usually are these cinderella stories who somehow preform in the NCAA tournament. This is going to look into their returning players and their schedules once they come out, or if some have been announced.

Our first team will be my favorite, Davidson Wildcats.

Davidson finished the season at 24-10 after a tough loss to Lipscomb in the NIT tournament. A 14-4 conference campaign in the A-10 and and a bad loss in the A-10 tournament left the Wildcats a bit stunned for this offseason. Bad early season losses against Temple and Wake Forest really looked bad on the résumé. As for the A-10, most of their losses were ones that shouldn’t have happened, the Saint Joseph loss by 1 early, a 3 point loss to UMASS, and a 1 point loss at home to Dayton were tough to swallow for the Cats. Davidson was eliminated from the A-10 conference tournament with a 23 point loss to Saint Louis and then again eliminated from the NIT with a 8 point loss to Lipscomb.

After a terrible way to end their season, and definitely undeserved, the Wildcats were hit with two bombshells on the same day. BOTH Kellan Grady and Jon Axel Gudmundsson declared for the NBA Draft. They are going to have until into June to decide if they are going to return to school for this upcoming year. Without these two, Davidson is going to have a very hard time finding any sort of success next year. 6’5″ guard Luke Frampton had a really good redshirt freshman year, and if Grady and Gudmundsson come back, these three could be a real threat within the A-10. Luka Brajkovic had a very good freshman year and is the first player in a long time to add a true post feel to McKillop’s offense. Davidson’s success is going to completely depend on Grady and Gudmundsson for next season.

As for the upcoming season, Davidson has announced it will be competing in the 2020 Maui Jim Maui Invitational. A decent field will provide the Wildcats a chance to show everyone that they are a true tournament team. Included in the field, Alabama, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas, and UNLV.

Projection for next season: With Grady and Gudmundsson: above 20 wins, below 15 losses, NCAA Tournament appearance; Without Grady and Gudmundsson: around .500 record, no postseason appearance