NCAAB: Final Four Bracketology
I, Brendan Kennealy, am not responsible for your bracket to be covered in red, but will accept any money from groups you win because of my advice.
Final Four Teams:
South: 1 Florida (32-2)
Florida’s biggest challenge in the South will be in the Sweet 16 against a very hot UCLA squad. Florida’s defense will prove to be too much in arguably the best region in this year’s tournament.
West: 6 Baylor (24-11)
This year’s “Cinderella” will be none other than the Baylor Bears. They will get past Creighton by shutting down Doug McDermott and will carry that momentum into the Wisconsin and Arizona contests. (More on Baylor below.)
East: 4 Michigan State (26-8)
Michigan State proved they are the real deal when they defeated Michigan by 14 points in the Big 10 Tournament championship. The Big 10 champions have what seems to be the easiest road to the Final Four other than the game against Virginia. They have one of the top backcourts in the NCAA with the dynamic duo of Keith Appling and Gary Harris.
Midwest: 1 Wichita State (34-0)
The Shockers will continue to “shock” those in the nation who don’t believe that Wichita State undefeated record is legit. Sure they didn’t face any top-25 teams in the regular season, but they got to the Final Four last year with a team that went 30-9 overall.
6 Baylor (24-11): The nation is sleeping on Baylor who closed out the season sizzling hot with a 10-2 record. Their center Isaiah Austin is averaging 3.2 blocks per game. They have reached the Elite Eight twice in the past four seasons (2010, 2012) and having this year be an even number year; they will get back to that round.
6 North Carolina (23-9): While I don’t stand behind UNC like I do Baylor, I believe that the Tar Heels will be able to defeat Providence handedly before facing Iowa State and then potentially Villanova. Iowa State is a much more difficult task to handle than Villanova, so if they can get past the Big 12 champion Cyclones I expect them to get to the Elite Eight.
7 New Mexico (27-6): New Mexico has something to prove this season after a first-round exit last year as a 3-seed. Cameron Bairstow may be the most underrated player in the nation this season. Bairstow is averaging 20.3ppg and 7.4rpg. Alex Kirk is also having a great season, averaging 13.6ppg and 8.7rpg. A potential second-round matchup against Kansas is where the Lobos will begin to mess up everyone’s brackets. New Mexico will have a significant height advantage over the Jayhawks who will still be without Joel Embiid and I expect the Lobos to dominate the game through strong post play.
Upset of the tournament:
12 Harvard def. 5 Cincinnati (59-55)
The Crimson defeated New Mexico in the first round as a 14-seed last season and will continue their upsetting ways this year as a 12-seed. Each year there seems to be at least one 12-seed to take down a 5-seed and Harvard has my support to be the squad to do so this season.
Final Four Matchups:
Florida def. Michigan State (72-65)
Florida is the #1 overall seed because of their stingy defense. They will completely stifle Appling, Harris, and Co. in this Final Four matchup.
Wichita State def. Baylor (71-68)
Baylor’s Cinderella run will end in the Final Four just like last season when they lost in this round to the eventually NCAA Champion Louisville. Wichita State will carry a perfect 38-0 record into the NCAA Championship game.
Florida def. Wichita State (65-62)
We have heard the saying many times in our lives: “Defense wins championships”. The Florida defense this season shuts down the offensive tempo of every team they face (only allowing 57.9ppg) and are on fire coming into the tournament with 26 straight wins and will carry that streak all the way through the finals.
You can reach Brendan Kennealy through email Brendan.firstname.lastname@example.org and/or via Twitter at @Brendankennealy