Updated: Mar 28, 2022
The first weekend of the tournament did not disappoint as we saw upset after upset. The last perfect bracket according to ESPN was busted midday on Friday. It is crazy that no one predicted a perfect 1st round, and even if they did, they would surely not survive the wild outcomes of the round of 32.
There are multiple upsets to report, but most notably is 15 seed Saint Peter's advancing to the sweet 16 after defeating 2 seed Kentucky in round 1 and 7 seed Murray State in Round 2. This is just the second time a 15 seed has ever done this, the last time being last year's Oral Roberts squad. North Carolina knocked off the defending national champions (Baylor) to advance to the sweet 16. Michigan knocked off what might've been the hottest team in the country (Tennesse) to advance to their 5TH STRAIGHT SWEET 16!!!! GO BLUE! And then we have a 11 vs 10 seed match up that always seems to happen as Iowa State stunned Wisconsin, and Miami beat the tar out of 2 seeded Auburn.
My philosophy during the sweet 16 is that it almost a new tournament, and for that reason, the seeds need to be adjusted. Obviously, this means nothing, and the matchups are already set, but it will give you my opinion on the best teams remaining in the tourney. I know you never asked, but here are my power rankings.
#16: Saint Peter's
The Cinderella story of march thus far; Saint Peter's is doing the unthinkable, but can their story continue? Saint Peter's defense is keeping them alive this tournament. Defensively, they rank 28th which is 8th best in the remaining teams, but their offense is by far the worst ranking at 225th in efficiency this year (69 more ranks than second worst). Their story is crazy, and they are riding on a lot of adrenaline and momentum, but they are by far the worst team remaining, and have a tough task against Purdue to move on. Would be the first 15 seed ever to make it to the elite 8, so I will be rooting for the Peacocks, despite my B10 allegiance.
#15: Iowa State
Like Saint Peter's, Iowa Stat's stellar defense has allowed them to move on to the sweet 16. ISU's first 2 games have a total of 214 points scored by all teams. That is absolutely crazy, and I know the phrase that defense wins championships, but common, you have to score more than 59 points to make an actual run. ISU has the second worst offensive efficiency behind SPU ranked at 156. ISU has struggled against high scoring teams, and luckily, they have played a majority of their games in the BIG 12, which might be the best defensive conference in the country. Unfortunately, its tourney time and all teams are fair game. When they face an opponent with a relevant offense, they will struggle to hold on.
Big statement here!! I am picking 4 seed Arkansas as the 3rd worst remaining team. The SEC has shown they are just a weak conference! For all the people bragging the SEC is the best conference, it makes me happy to see their complete collapse. This being said, Arkansas is the only SEC team left and because of SEC's poor performance, they are getting the 14 seed. They squeaked by both Vermont and New Mexico State and are now up against the overall #1 Gonzaga. Good Luck Razorbacks, you'll need it!
I love my boys and I am obviously extremely biased, but I'm trying to be honest here. In my personal opinion, I think Michigan has the talent to make a run here, but the question is if they can continue to play to their potential. All season they have had great games, and then games where they could lose to a wet sock. Because of their inconsistencies, I have Michigan ranked at 13. However, if there is an upset team, it is this Michigan Squad. There is a reason they were ranked 6th overall to begin the season. They just haven't put all the pieces together, but they're on a streak and have momentum. Watch out for upsets! Go Blue!
The U have had a great tournament so far and have somewhat changed by views on the ACC's strength. They outlasted USC in the first round, and it shouldn't have been as close as it was because USC went on a run at the end of the game. In similar fashion, Miami was up big the whole game against #2 Auburn, and they never let up. They won that game from the first 2 minutes. All season, Miami has been doubted, and I have made lots of money betting them underdogs. They have a really good offense but struggle defensively. The good thing is they have confidence now, and they have a reason to step up their defensive efforts. A sneaky team that may surprise you!
Everyone and their mother's expected Providence to get upset by South Dakota State. They were simply the better team, and again in the second round they beat 12 seed Richmond. Providence hasn't played anyone worthwhile all tourney and that comes to an end as they play Kansas in the sweet 16. Everyone knows Providence is fraudulent, it's just a matter of time before they lose. They are a very average team, and the fact that people are so surprised they advanced to the sweet 16 should set off alarms in your head!
A Darkhorse thus far, UNC is looking to continue their run that not many predicted. They knocked off defending champs in a game that should have never gone to OT. UNC absolutely pooped on Marquette as well. UNC's offense is clicking, and they have a sound defense. The Tar Heels are proving why they are a blue blood, and I would not be totally surprised if they advance to the elite 8.
On paper UCLA is a fantastic team ranking 12th overall in offensive efficiency and 13th overall in defensive efficiency. They are also somewhat healthy after a season that riddled with injuries. Last year they surprised us all from being a play-in 11 seed to advancing to the final 4. This year they haven't had that surprising game yet because they were favorites in both contests last weekend, but this could be the week where UCLA does it again. It is hard to bet against a team with UCLA statistics.
The Boilermakers have been annoying all year. With the stars on their team, it's frustrating that they aren't great. Personally, I think Purdue has too much talent and because of that, they don't have the chemistry needed to make a deep run. Ivey is a top 3 NBA prospect, Edey is 7'4 and Williams is probably their best player and he doesn't even start. It is a weird roster, and their lack of chemistry has given them an 8 seed in my eyes. Luckily for Purdue, they play SPU next round to get into the elite 8.
#7: Texas Tech
The second Big12 team is Texas Tech who has used their #1 overall defense to make it to the sweet 16. Their defense has been phenomenal all year and in fact, it's been great the last 5 seasons. They have built a niche and it has been successful with multiple deep tourney runs in the past couple seasons. This year is no different. Their offense struggles at times, but their defense will keep them in every game. They have a tough matchup against high offensively powered Duke in this round.
Houston has gotten some flak for playing in a weaker conference, but year after year they seem to be in talk for national champions. Besides Gonzaga, Houston has the best offensive and defensive efficiencies combined. They are just all around a good team, and they showed that when they beat down on Illinois to advance. They question is if they can continue to play up to opponents who are far better than the teams they played in the regular season. Do they have the stamina to do so day after day? I say yes, but what do I know.
It is Coach K's final season. Just that piece of information should let you know everything you need to about Duke. They are not only playing for themselves, but are playing for their coach, and what better story than sending Coach K off with one final national championship. It would be one hell of a story, but I don't think Duke can do it with this team, which is why I only have them at 5. They are too inconsistent, and their defense has not been up to par to what Duke is usually at.
The Jayhawks are the first #1 seed on this list, and they have looked great this year! Offensively they are clicking, and their defense has had great energy. Agbaji is a phenomenal play maker that can easily lead Kansas to an elite 8. The one thing that scares me about Kansas, is that if they find themselves down big, then they have a hard time getting back into games. They throw out their offense and start jacking 3's and their deficit increases. However, Kansas has yet to be down big this tourney and if they continue that, they will be problems for teams.
It seems that Villanova is always in the talks for a national championship. This year is no different as they have a very manageable road to the elite 8 with only 11 seed Michigan in their way. They might have the best guard play in the country with Gillespie, and Samuels is a matchup nightmare. The Wildcats are always very disciplined and well coached and will make you the reason for your loss. They are dangerous in so many ways and is why I have them over Kansas,
Arizona really only gained traction midway through this season, as they started unranked. It didn't take long before people realized just how good Arizona was, and from January onwards, they were back and forth with Gonzaga for the best team overall. Koloko is their 7'1 big man who is an absolute beast and point guard Mathurin scores just under 18 a game. They just have a lot of talent and size which makes them a tough team to handle on multiple matchups. I like Arizona to contend with other big boys, and it will be interesting to see how they perform against the tough Houston team.
Big surprise! Gonzaga is number 1! Honestly, despite a temporary scare against Georgia State and a close win against Memphis, Gonzaga deserves this spot. They may play teams close, but down the stretch they always find a way. I guess that is what happens when you have the best players on your team. Timme is a great big man who needs to be doubled team, but then that leaves 7' Chet Holmgren wide open. Strawther is also a projected first rounder. The team is simply loaded but have shown moments of weakness. They have to be #1, but don't let that sway you to believe they can't lose because it is extremely hard to win close game after close game!
Godspeed as always,