March Madness: Round of 64 Preview

The best time of the year is officially here, March Madness! the greatest tournament on planet earth never disappoints and this year will be no different, so let’s dive into every matchup in the round of 64 and my picks for each one.

WEST REGION

#1 GONZAGA VS #16 GEORGIA STATE

Don’t overthink this one, don’t think about it at all for that matter, while I was higher than the consensus on Georgia State entering selection Sunday, they got the worst draw possible, there will be no answer for Chet Holmgren and Drew Timme, I have Gonzaga winning big here, so the fun duo of Corey Allen and Kane Williams will be going home early.

#8 BOISE STATE VS #9 MEMPHIS

Quick shoutout to Penny Hardaway, this Memphis team looked absolutely lost [again] with no chance at dancing in March, but the Tigers really locked in and are one of the hotter teams entering the tournament. This game should be a good one, and I am backing Memphis led by future top pick Jalen Duren, who I expect to feast in this matchup. Memphis, as a team, shoots at a higher percentage from all levels and generates much more 2nd chance points as they have a clear edge in rebounding, which is what I believe will ultimately be the deciding factor in this game. Memphis ML.

#5 CONNECTICUT VS #12 NEW MEXICO STATE

In the dreaded 5v12 matchup, at least one 12 seed has reached the round of 32 in 9 of the last 11 tournaments, but this matchup won’t be the one that continues this streak. UConn is a matchup nightmare for NMSU and it’s safe to assume that big man Adama Sanogo will have a monster game here, paving the way for a relatively easy win for the Huskies, the spread is currently -6.5, I am taking this with 10/10 confidence. 

#4 ARKANSAS VS #13 VERMONT 

If you read my previous article, you already know how I feel about this one. I was a believer in Arkansas in the sense that I thought they could make a little bit of noise this year, that was until they drew Vermont. I am quite easily higher on the Catamounts than the consensus and I am truly ok with this, Vermont has scorers all throughout their roster and it will be hard for anyone, especially Arkansas to keep up with them. Give me Vermont in an upset here.

#6 ALABAMA VS #11 RUTGERS/ND

Can you name a more disappointing team than the Crimson Tide? what an up and down season it’s been for Nate Oats, beating the likes of Houston, Gonzaga, and Baylor but also losing to teams like Iona, Missouri, and Georgia. In other words, if you get the good Bama squad it will be a long night for you, if you get the dark side of the Crimson Tide, you’ll be having a great time. While I am taking note of Alabam’s inconsistencies, I am still taking them here regardless of who wins the “first four” matchup between Rutgers and Notre Dame. 

#3 TEXAS TECH VS #14 MONTANA STATE 

I’m gonna keep this one short and sweet, congrats on an amazing season Montana State, but you’re going home. This game shouldn’t be close, give me Texas Tech -15.

#7 MICHIGAN STATE VS #10 DAVIDSON 

Another upset pick from my previous article, I have Davidson barely edging out Michigan State here in what should be one of the more entertaining 1st round matchups. I usually don’t fade Tom Izzo in March, but I genuinely think this may be the worst roster they’ve had in quite some time, Davidsons’ offense is too well oiled and will be too much for the Spartans to keep up with, I have the Wildcats ML. 

#2 DUKE VS #15 CAL STATE FULLERTON

Duke is overrated per usual, let me make that very clear. But they will not lose this game nor will they struggle, to keep this nice and sweet I’ll be taking the Blue Devils by a lot here. Duke -18.5

EAST REGION 

#1 BAYLOR VS #16 NORFOLK STATE 

Scott Drew in march is a recipe for success, the Bears will not join Virginia as 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed, take Baylor with full confidence here.

#8 UNC VS #9 MARQUETTE 

Don’t quote me on this, but I believe most money is on the Tar Heels here, well, I’m not. I will continue to do what I’ve done all season, fade the one-man team that is the Tar Heels, Marquette, led by Justin Lewis and Darryl Morsell are ahead of schedule on the Shakka Smart rebuild, and they will continue to be ahead of schedule, with a big win here, give me the golden Eagles ML.

#5 SAINT MARY’S VS #12 INDIANA/WYOMING

I expect this to be a popular upset pick, seeing it the dreaded 5v12 matchup as mentioned before, but I really don’t care for either Indiana or Wyoming, the Gaels have proven they can win big games and this one will be no different, Saint Mary’s is just too well rounded with a 4 headed attack with 4 players averaging over 10 ppg, while I don’t think they’re built for a long run in March, I have them easily handling their 1st round matchup, whether that be Indiana or Wyoming. 

#4 UCLA VS #13 AKRON

Another game I won’t dive too deeply into, if it weren’t for a wack suspension of multiple Kent State players over a video where they said “F*ck Akron”, the Zips would be at home right now, they just don’t have the offensive firepower or the defensive prowess to stick with the Bruins, I have UCLA winning big here. 

#6 TEXAS VS #11 VIRGINIA TECH

Virginia Tech is having quite the March run already, winning the ACC tournament and locking in a spot they wouldn’t have had if they didn’t win the entire thing. And this hot streak added onto the drawing of the yearly letdown that is Texas has people riding high on the Hokies, I am not one of those people. I will once again be sipping the Longhorn juice this year, and I have them winning this matchup because of it, and for what it’s worth, I have them winning in the round of 32 as well.

#3 PURDUE VS #14 YALE 

Purdue by a lot.

#7 MURRAY STATE VS #10 SAN FRANSISCO 

It is truly unfortunate these teams have to play each other in round 1, they are both so fun to watch and have a natural easiness to cheer for, sadly, one has to go. I’m taking the upset-minded Dons. the trio of Jamaree Bouyea, Khalil Shabazz, and Yauhen Massalski is just too much, and I don’t see how Murray State could handle all three of them. The Racers’ dream season ends in the round of 64.

#2 KENTUCKY VS #15 SAINT PETER’S

Kentucky is a legitimate championship threat this season, they should have no trouble with Saint Peter’s, though they have one of my favorite young coaches in the country, Shaheen Halloway. The guy is a stud and will be coaching P6 ball soon enough, but for now, he’ll be taking a plane back to New Jersey, give me the Wildcats.

SOUTH REGION 

#1 ARIZONA VS #16 BRYANT/WRIGHT STATE

Arizona is winning this matchup easily no matter who they play, but I sure do hope Bryant can pull out the upset vs Wright State. Peter Kiss is THAT GUY and his confidence is made for March, he deserves to be seen by the world, the nations leading scorer will become an instant fan favorite if so. Arizona won’t be going home early though, so I’ll be taking the Wildcats with full confidence.

#8 SETON HALL VS #9 TCU

This is one of the matchups I really struggled with, on paper Seton Hall checks a lot of my boxes, but something about TCU just draws you to them, maybe it’s their impressive performances vs the big dogs of the BIG 12 or the natural likable underdog story they bring, regardless, this is a true “Pick Em” and I’ll be taking the Horned Frogs here. 

#5 HOUSTON VS #12 UAB

I really liked Houston entering the season, then they lost their two best players, and they got the honor of being featured on my college basketball “pretenders” list. Despite all of their obstacles they. had to overcome, the Cougars had a pretty solid season, but here it is the yearly 5v12 upset. Jordan “Jelly” Walker is a star, the Blazers are having a dream season, and I don’t see that ending here, UAB will continue to dance!

#4 ILLINOIS VS #13 CHATTANOOGA

I am a firm believer in the idea that Illinois still has yet to play their best ball, and I believe they’ll start doing that here vs Chattanooga, while Malachi Smith, David Jean-Baptiste, and Silvio De Sousa are a very fun trio, I don’t see them stopping big Kofi Cockburn and co. I’ll be taking the Fighting Illini here, tentatively that is.

#6 COLORADO STATE VS #11 MICHIGAN 

I dove into this one of my previous articles, I do not believe Michigan deserves to be here, nor do I think they are that good of a team, id also argue that Juwan Howard is the worst coach of all 64 teams in march. With all that being said, I’m still taking the Wolverines here in an upset over the Colorado State Rams. Hunter Dickinson is legit, and I’d be very surprised if anyone on this Rams roster can stop him in what is almost a home game for the Wolverines.

#3 TENNESSEE VS #14 LONGWOOD 

A few weeks ago, I called the Volunteers pretenders, and while I stand by this, they have an extremely favorable bracket here starting with Longwood and followed by the winner of Rado ST/Mich. In one of the easiest 1st round picks, I have Tennessee winning big.

#7 OHIO STATE VS #10 LOYOLA CHICAGO 

This matchup screams upset, right? Ohio State seems to disappoint us every year and Loyola Chicago seems to be a yearly cinderella story. Not so fast my friend, I’ll be taking the buckeyes here, while I don’t think they’ll do much beyond this, I am simply not buying into this weak Loyola Chicago squad, they are not anywhere near as talented as they’ve been in past years, nor are they as well-coached. E.J. Liddell is simply too good, he is not going out in the 1st round for the second straight year.

#2 VILLANOVA VS #15 DELEWARE

the Blue Hens play fun ball, Jameer Nelson Jr. is so much like his father and Dylan Painter can hold his own with a lot of guys. With all this being said, I’ll be taking Villanova here, they just have too many weapons for Deleware to keep up, while I do think the blue Hens cover the spread, their magical season ends here in Pittsburgh, PA.

MIDWEST REGION

#1 KANSAS VS #16 TEXAS SOUTHERN/TEXAS A&M-CORPUS CHRISTI

I am not explaining this one, please take Kansas

#8 SAN DIEGO STATE VS #9 CREIGHTON

I have a genuine disliking for the Aztecs, and I really wanted to take Creighton, but the injury to Nembhard will keep me from doing this. The Blue Jays are just injured at the wrong time, and San Diego St should capitalize on this in what I expect to be a close game.

#5 IOWA VS #12 RICHMOND

Richmond pulled off back-to-back upsets over Dayton and Davidson to lock in their spot in the tournament, and while they’ve had an amazing run already, it’ll be ending here. Keegan Murray is a beast and the almost 30-year-old Jordan Bohannon doesn’t want his 20th season to end with a round 1 upset. Give me the Hawkeyes rather easily here.

#4 PROVIDENCE VS #13 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE

One of the more popular upset picks here features the high-powered Jackrabbits vs the MOST overrated team in the country. South Dakota State has too many weapons and providence is playing bad ball right now, it is a perfect recipe for a March upset.

#6 LSU VS #11 IOWA STATE

This is a sad matchup and I refuse to talk about it in-depth, in a battle of who I want to take less, I have LSU edging out a victory here, they’ll be getting dominated in the round of 32. 

#3 WISCONSIN VS #14 COLGATE

I have yet to buy into this Badgers team, I still don’t think they’re built for March but they do have a rather easy road to the sweet 16. I have NPOTY candidate Johnny Davis and the Badgers beating Toothpaste university rather easily here.

#7 USC VS #10 MIAMI

This may be one of my favorite 1st round matchups, these two teams just match up so well with each other, and it should be a very fun game. The clear X-Factor here is Miami’s Isaiah Wong, if he can get things going early the Canes should be rolling into the round of 32. This is probably the closest thing to a “Pick Em” as we’ll get all tournament, and I’m taking the Hurricanes, better coaching, better guard play, better shooting. They want Auburn!

#2 AUBURN VS #15 JACKSONVILLE STATE

Jacksonville ST got in based on a horrible rule, they couldn’t even win their conference tournament, give me Jabari Smith and the Tigers here, this should be picked by every bracket made, there is truly 0 chance they lose this game.

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