It’s finally here: the first normal NCAA tournament in three years! It’s also supposed to be well into the 70s here in Indy today, so it might be the most perfect day ever.
I did not do a ton of research in preparation for making NCAA picks. I listened to a couple podcasts that had sections on picks, and I skimmed a few articles. But no deep-dives.
So I guess picks first followed by some KU talk?
Gonzaga beats Auburn for the title.
I’m very confident in the top half of the bracket. That bottom half? I went back-and-forth several times and would not bet anything significant on either of them. Which totally means Memphis is going to shock the Zags and Purdue or Baylor will blow out Kentucky, while Houston and Auburn cruise to New Orleans, right?
If I knew that Kerr Kriisa would be completely healthy and playing at full strength I would swap Arizona for Houston. His ankle injury looked nasty, though. Maybe he’ll be more Kirk Hinrich in 2003 than, I don’t know, name someone who wrecked their ankle in early March, had to play injured in the tournament, and suffered for it.
What about my Jayhawks? I have them losing to Auburn in the Elite 8. Which is weird because I’m way out on Auburn. They’ve fallen apart over the past month and don’t have great guards. But I don’t see anyone on Auburn’s side of the bracket that should give them too many issues. I have Wisconsin losing to LSU, which is probably my biggest upset of the tournament. And likely dumb since LSU is a mess. Even if the Badgers make it to Chicago, I have a feeling Auburn will overwhelm them. If Auburn wins three games I think they’ll have their mojo back and their size and athleticism will be too much for KU. Exactly like it was in 2019. I hate Bruce Pearl.
I know Iowa is a trendy upset pick over KU in the Sweet 16. But Iowa’s offense is only marginally better than Kansas’, and the Jayhawks play much better defense than the Hawkeyes. Keegan Murray will be a bitch to guard, but KU has a chance to get stops where I won’t think Iowa does.
How narratives form this time of year is always interesting to me. Iowa is considered super hot, winning 12 of their last 14, including eight wins over tournament teams. They seem more popular out of the Midwest than KU.
However, over Kansas’ last 14 games they went…11–3 with nine wins over tournament teams.
KU was good all year where Iowa had a three-game losing streak early in the Big 10 season, so their trend is more impressive, thus they are the hot team, I guess.
Regardless, that could be a very fun game to watch if it comes to pass.