It’s the most wonderful time of the year for college basketball fans. March Madness informally gets underway with the First Four games on Tuesday night, and starting on Thursday at noon, the annual tradition that is the NCAA Tournament will get underway. This year’s field promises to be as exciting as ever, and to get you ready for the journey, we’ve picked every game for this year’s bracket.
All winners are in bold.
1. Duke vs. 16. NC Central/North Dakota State
8. VCU vs. 9. UCF
5. Mississippi State vs. 12. Liberty
4. Virginia Tech vs. 13. St. Louis
6. Maryland vs. 11. Belmont/Temple
3. LSU vs. 14. Yale
7. Louisville vs. 10. Minnesota
2. Michigan State vs. 15. Bradley
We have mostly chalk here, although it’s not hard to see the 3 and 5 seeds get into some trouble, while the 4-seed will be a fascinating watch. LSU and Yale should be a track meet, and while the Tigers are better, Lord knows what the vibe will be around that team considering everything happening with head coach Will Wade. Virginia Tech is a legitimate threat to make a run to the second or third weekend, but I will be interested in how they incorporate star guard Justin Robinson, who has missed the last 12 games with a foot injury. Liberty will try to slow Mississippi State way down, and the Caleb Homesley-Scottie James-Lovell Cabbil trio can play, but I’ll take the Bulldogs’ offensive firepower.
As for the upset I’ll pick in this region, while Temple making a run during longtime coach Fran Dunphy’s final year would be one hell of a story, give me Belmont’s delightful uptempo offense to win that game then pull off a win over Maryland. The Terps are better, but we need an upset in here somewhere, and the Bruins can really score.
1. North Carolina vs. 16. Iona
8. Utah State vs. 9. Washington
5. Auburn vs. 12. New Mexico State
4. Kansas vs. 13. Northeastern
6. Iowa State vs. 11. Ohio State
3. Houston vs. 14. Georgia State
7. Wofford vs. 10. Seton Hall
2. Kentucky vs. 15. Abilene Christian