March Madness

Are you sick of your friends constantly talking about brackets? Do they ramble on and on about which 12-seed could pull off an upset? Are they making jokes about players you don’t understand or references to previous versions of this thing they keep calling, “madness?”

The Kaimin feels you, so we went into the laboratory and came out with the NCAA Tournament study guide. We will run through 64 teams in a two-part series, give you a sentence to spout out to your friends if you find yourself in an uncomfortable siutation, some basic info and my prediction for every team. (My predictions will no doubt be very wrong)

Today, we start with the left side of the bracket with the South and West Regions. 

No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks (30-4, Big 12 regular season and postseason champions)

“I wonder what will be on Wayne Selden Jr.’s uncles clock at the NCAA Tournament?”

The overall No. 1 seed and the hottest team in the country entering the tournament, winning their 14th straight game in the Big 12 Championship by 10 points over West Virginia. They are led by 43-year old (might be innacurate) veteran Perry Ellis with 17 ppg, and the backcourt duo of Wayne Selden Jr. and Frank Mason III is one of the best in the country.

Prediction: Sweet 16

No. 16 Austin Peay Governors (18-17, Ohio Valley postseason champions)

“They were the worst seed in their conference tournament and they won that, so you never know…”

Austin Peay entered the OVC tourney as the No. 8 seed, but pulled off four straight upsets to get here. They are led by senior big man Chris Horton, who averages 19/12 and shoots 60 percent. Fun fact, their official athletics website is called letsgopeay.com. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Prediction: First round

No. 8 Colorado Buffaloes (22-11)

“They lost by 29 points when they were a No. 8 seed two years ago so I don’t know if I can take them seriously here.”

The Buffaloes played in the tougher than expected Pac-12, and they have wins against Oregon and Arizona on their resume. As mentioned before, they were drubbed by Pitt two years ago, but eight players return from that team, including senior Josh Scott who averaged 16/9 this year. 

Prediction: First round

No. 9 Connecticut Huskies (24-10, American postseason champions)

“Stop me if you’ve heard this before, UConn has more momentum than anyone in college basketball entering March.”

The Huskies used an improbable four overtime win against Cincinnati in the American tourney to roll to a win in the chipper. This feels eerily similar to the last two times UConn won the NCAA title, minus the volume-scoring, ball-dominating guard. The Huskies have four players average 12 ppg.

Prediction: Second round

No. 5 Maryland Terrapins (25-8)

“They’ve won a game 11 straight times they’ve been to the tourney, I don’t think they’ll mess that up this year.”

Maryland is a super-talented team that faltered down the stretch. Melo Trimble is one of the best players in the country, leading the Terps in scoring, assists and steals with 14/5/1. Duke transfer Rasheed Sulaimon can score, but Maryland lacks much of an inside presence, with their leading rebounder just under 7 per game.

Prediction: Second round

No. 12 South Dakota State Jackrabbits (26-7, Summit regular and postseason champs)

“They beat North Dakota State in a championship game, which I didn’t think had happened in at least five years.”

The Jackrabbits are fairly average in almost every category. They give up 68 ppg (T-76 in the nation) and score 76 (T-98). They are led by a true freshman forward, Mike Daum, who comes off the bench to average 15/6 in just over 20 minutes of action.

Prediction: First round

No. 4 California Golden Bears (23-10)

“They are really young, but California has some of the most talented players in the country.”

If you say that to your friends, you will not be lying. Jaylen Brown and Ivan Raab are both true freshman, but can flat out ball. Brown, and senior Tyrone Wallace, average over 15/5 a game while Raab is at 13/9. They were undefeated at home, including a 20-point blowout of Oregon. The best defensive team in the country will be ready to go come tourney time.

Prediction: Final Four (¯\_(ツ)_/¯) 

No. 13 Hawai’I Rainbow Warriors (27-5, Big West regular and postseason champs)

“They gave Oklahoma a run in a tournament game back in November, they have upset potential.”

Hawai’i put together an impressive season that started early. They beat Northern Iowa (tourney team) and lost to Oklahoma by four in a December tourney. Stefan Jankovic leads this top-50 defensive team with 16/7.

Prediction: First round

No. 6 Arizona Wildcats (25-8)

“It doesn’t matter what Arizona does because they’ll never win an Elite Eight game.”

The Wildcats have a history with losing in the Elite Eight, but this season they likely won’t make it that far. They have a high-powered offense that scores 81 ppg, but they aren’t a top-100 defensive team. Ryan Anderson, Gabe York, Allonzo Trier all average 15+, while Anderson also brings down over 10 boards. 

Prediction: Second round

No. 11 Wichita State Shockers (24-8, MVC regular season champs)

“I want to be like Ron Baker when I grow up.”

I’m predicting the Shockers to beat Vandy in the First Four game to earn this spot. Ron Baker (14p/5r/4a) is a star while Fred VanVleet (12/6) was once considered one of the best point guards in the nation. They are a deep team, with nine guys averaging over 15 minutes.

Prediction: First round

No. 3 Miami Hurricanes (25-7)

“If Jim Larrañaga can lead George Mason to the Final Four, he has to be able to do something great with this Miami team.”

The Canes put together an impressive season, as coach Larrañaga continues to prove his genius. They were 11-4 against BPI top-50 teams including wins against Utah, Butler, Virginia, Duke and Louisville. Sheldon McClellan scores 16 ppg for a team that knows how to win big games.

Prediction: Sweet 16

No. 14 Buffalo Bulls (20-14, MAC postseason champs)

“They almost beat West Virginia in the tourney last year, but they were a much better team then." 

They Bulls score well at over 77 ppg, but they are a terrible defensive team, allowing 75 ppg to rank 262nd in the nation. They have four players average in double digits.

Prediction: First round

No. 7 Iowa Hawkeyes (21-10)

“Jared Uthoff has the ability to take over games and maybe pull off some upsets." 

Remember when Iowa was good at basketball? They were a top-5 team for consecutive weeks at one point this season, but have fallen off completely. Jared Uthoff is still a star, scoring 19 ppg, but Peter Jok (16 ppg) is the only other Hawkeye in double-digits.

Prediction: First round

No. 10 Temple Owls (21-11, American regular season champs)

“They are a Big Five team that plays tough defense, they can win in March.”

The Owls are 271st in scoring this year, but they have been much better on the defensive side, allowing 67 points which ranks them 68th in the nation. They were the first team to beat SMU this year and are led by Quenton DeCosey at 16/6.

Prediction: Second round

No. 2 Villanova Wildcats (29-5, Big East regular season champs)

“Sure Villanova looks really good, but can we really trust the Big East?”

My pick to win it all last year, Villanova is a scary team to cheer for again this season. They have fantastic wins against Xavier, Butler and Providence, but then again, do we really know if those teams are good? They also lost by double-digits to Oklahoma and Virginia. They are still tough across the board with some potential NBA guys.

Prediction: Elite Eight

No. 15 UNC-Asheville Bulldogs (22-11, Big South tourney champs)

“They used to have 7-foot-7 Kenny George, the tallest basketball player in the country.”

The Bulldogs don’t have much to offer other than a fun fact about a tall person. They had five different players average double-digits, led by freshman Dylan Smith with 14 ppg.

Prediction: First round

No. 1 Oregon Ducks (28-6, Pac-12 regular and postseason champs)

“Are you sure we’re still talking about basketball?” 

The Ducks shocked everyone on Selection Sunday when they were given a No. 1 seed. They did establish themselves as the best team in the Pac-12, but it still seems like a stretch that they are one of the four best teams. Wilson Scott averages 23 ppg and Julian Martin adds 21 ppg. (Just kidding those are fake names/stats, but I bet you believed them because, Oregon?)

Prediction: Second round

No. 16 Holy Cross Crusaders (14-19, Patriot tourney champs) 

“Well they aren’t the worst team to ever play in the tournament.”

The Crusaders have former Grizzly assistant coach Freddie Owens. They also have a pretty cool Knight-looking logo. Yeah, that’s about it.

Prediction: First round 

No. 8 Saint Joseph’s Hawks (27-7, A-10 postseason champ)

“Miles and Bembry are studs, and they learned from Langston Galloway so that has to count for something.”

Isaiah Miles, the A-10 Tournament MVP, and DeAndre Bembry, the A-10 MVP, both average over 17 points and nearly eight rebounds per game, which is very, very good. They had three impressive wins on their way to the A-10 title, an underrated conference. They lost an overtime game to eventual champion UConn in their last trip, and are expected to impress this year.

Prediction: Sweet 16 

No. 9 Cincinnati Bearcats (22-10)

“If UConn doesn’t make that desperation shot, Cincinnati could easily be the hottest team entering the tournament.”

The Bearcats were on the wrong end of an unbelievable finish in the American tourney, losing in 4OT against UConn. They had won nine of their previous 12 games before the heartbreaking loss, and have a top-10 defense that allows just under 63 ppg, but they need their offense to step up if they want a tourney run.

Prediction: First round 

No. 5 Baylor Bears (22-11)

“Remember when R.J. Hunter hit that game winner against Baylor last year and his coach/dad, who already ruptured his Achilles celebrating during the conference tournament, fell off his stool on the sideline? Wasn’t that just the best?” (p.s. this is my favorite moment in tourney history.) 

Taurean Prince and Rico Gathers are monsters. Prince scores over 15 a game while Gathers is nearly at a double-double average (11/9). The seniors led an unselfish team that averages nearly 18 assists per game, the sixth best mark in all of America.

Prediction: Second round

No. 12 Yale Bulldogs (22-6, Ivy League champs)

“Yale is the last team to qualify by winning their conference’s regular season title, I’ll remember that for when it’s trivia question 20 years from now.”

The Bulldogs finished the Ivy League season 13-1, a game ahead of Princeton. They also challenged themselves in the non-conference season, losing to USC, Duke, Illinois and SMU. They are the 12th best defense in the country, giving up just over 63 ppg.

Prediction: First round

No. 4 Duke Blue Devils (23-10)

“I can’t believe that Grayson Allen tripped all those guys isn’t he such a villain?”

While I am not an Allen fan, or Duke fan in general, the use of villain seems a little overboard when describing Allen. He’s an incredibly hard worker that averaged nearly 22 ppg, and is joined by future-NBA star Brandon Ingram, who averaged 17/7 and sharpshooter Luke Kennard. Do they have the depth to make a deep run?

Prediction: Elite Eight

No. 13 UNC-Wilmington Seahawks (25-7, CAA regular and postseason champs)

“How many teams are there from North Carolina, am I right?”

The Seahawks are red-hot entering the tournament, winning 16 of their last 18 games. They score in bunches, averaging nearly 80 points a game. They have a win as a No. 13 seed before, when Brett Blizzard (this is a real person, apparently) led them to a win against USC in 2002.

Prediction: First round 

No. 6 Texas Longhorns (20-12)

“Shaka Smart pulled off upsets with VCU, I can’t wait to see what he does with this Texas talent.”

Shaka Smart is a legend. As a North Carolina fan, I was hoping he would stay at VCU until Roy Williams retired, but good for Texas stealing him away and then beating the Tar Heels this year. Anyway, Isaiah Taylor is really good (15/5) and they have some really big wins this year (UNC, West Virginia x2, Iowa St. Baylor).

Prediction: Sweet 16

No. 11 Northern Iowa Panthers (22-12, MVC postseason champs)

“Can you believe the committee put two teams who beat North Carolina against each other in the first round?”

Speaking of teams that beat my favorite team, Northern Iowa. The Panthers have some big-time wins (UNC, Iowa State) and impressed in the conference tourney. They are 12-1 in their last 13 games, including two wins against Wichita State. UNI also has the 11th best defense in America, allowing just under 63 ppg.

Prediction: First round 

No. 3 Texas A&M Aggies (26-8, SEC regular season champs)

“I don’t get how Kentucky beat A&M in the SEC chipper but got a worse seed than them.”

The Aggies are a fundamental team, ranking 31st in defense (65 ppg) and 11th in assists (17 apg). They had won eight straight, including an absolute dismantling of Ben Simmons and LSU, before dropping a tight game to Kentucky in the SEC championship. Jalen Jones and Danuel House both average nearly 16 ppg.

Prediction: Second round

No. 14 Green Bay Phoenix (23-12, Horizon postseason champs)

“They almost beat Wisconsin in the first game after Bo Ryan retired this year.”

The Phoenix really, really enjoy putting the ball in the basket. At over 84 ppg, only five teams in the country score more. They also allow a lot of points (almost 80), which puts them in 328th place in the country.

Prediction: First round

No. 7 Oregon State Beavers (19-12)

“It’s so cool that Wayne Tinkle used to coach here, and also, I watched Tres play high school ball.”

Tinks put together an impressive season, leading Oregon State to their first tourney appearance since the days of Gary Payton Sr. It’s likely Tres won’t play their first round game, but Gary Payton II is one of the best all-around players in the country, averaging 16p, 8r, 5a and 2.5 steals.

Prediction: First round

No. 10 VCU Rams (24-10, share of A-10 regular season championship)

“This will be the sixth straight time VCU has made it to the tourney.”

Cry Havoc, and let slip the dogs of war. When I found out this was VCU’s motto for playing defense, they instantly became my second favorite team. They are a top-100 offensive and defensive team. Even without Smart, they are still 9th in the country with almost nine steals per game. 

Prediction: Second round, but hopefully further

No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners (25-7)

“Buddy Hield is the player of the year, no doubt.”

Hield has been absolutely tantalizing this year, scoring 25 ppg, second best in the country. The Sooners are an excellent shooting team, and they broke the top-25 with nearly 81 ppg. They played an impressive schedule, including the instant-classic against Kansas back in January.

Prediction: National runner-up

No. 15 Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners (24-8, WAC postseason champs)

“They went 3-1 against the Big Sky, so that counts for practically nothing.”

The Roadrunners are the 14th best defense in the country, allowing just over 63 ppg. Unfortunately, Buddy Hield and the Sooners are going to score a lot more than that.

Prediction: First round