The Staff NCAA Tournament Predictions

It’s a national holiday to some, and arguably the least productive day at work or school out of any day of the year. Many will be huddled around several TV’s, phones, tablets, and gaming consoles watching their chances at several hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars slip away. But that slight chance that we can prove our friends wrong, and be the closest we’ve ever been to predicting the future for just a few upcoming weeks brings us back for more every year.

The NCAA tournament.

I took to some of the staff members here at SportsTalkFeed and asked them about their opinions on this years’ NCAA tournament. Here’s what I compiled:


                                                            Matt Fassnacht
Departments Covered: Pirates beat, MLB, NFL, and NBA
Twitter handle: @Fuzznacht
Biggest Upset: Hawaii over Cal
Cinderella(s): Hawaii
Team seeded 2-16 to watch out for: Hawaii
Final Four: Kansas V. Oklahoma, UNC V. Mich. State
Champion: Kansas
Rationale: We’ll call it a hunch. No, I haven’t seen Hawaii play a full game and 90% of people who say they have are lying. However, few expected 15-seed Mercer to beat 2-seed Duke, and guess what happened? If Hawaii does win, Maryland could lose to the 12th-seed Jackrabbits out of South Dakota State providing a solid 12/13 matchup between the Jackrabbits and the Rainbow Warriors which would pave an easier road for Kansas to the Elite Eight. It’s hard to pick Kansas over my beloved Heels, but I’ve been cursed with doubting this team since the 2008-championship team. This team has the most talent since then, but not the most consistency. Let’s be honest, Perry Ellis is like 45 and he’s been in college for at least 25 years; he isn’t leaving until he wins the big one.


                                                            Drew Clark
Departments Covered: College Basketball, College Football, NBA, NFL, and MLB
Twitter Handle: @DrewC1420
Biggest Upset: Iona over Iowa State
Cinderella: Iona
Cinderella(s): Kentucky is obvious answer but I’ll throw in Texas too
Final Four: Kentucky, Kansas, Oregon, Michigan State
Champion: Oregon
Rationale: I think there are obvious clear cut favorites in each bracket that can make it to Houston. The East region is interesting with UNC, UK, and WVU all being tough outs. I love Oregon’s depth and balance as a team, their main problem will be Chris Boucher trying to guard big bodies. Iona is a high powered offense that has a star in A.J. English who lights up the scoreboard, potential elite eight team in my mind.


                                                            Richard Bowman
Departments Covered: Lead MMA Dept., NFL Dept., NBA Dept.
Twitter Handle: @SGSFranchise
Biggest Upset: Temple (#10) over Villanova(#2)
Cinderella: Temple
Team seeded 2-16 to watch out for: Michigan St., Indiana, Arizona, Temple, Texas
Final Four: Kansas-Duke and Indiana-Michigan St.
Champion: Michigan St.
Rationale: This year’s bracket is a tough one, I’m not all that high on Duke, however, I do like their chances in this bracket. I do see Villanova losing to Temple in the second round mainly because it is a Philly rivalry, and Villanova hasn’t made it to the Sweet Sixteen 16 Sixteen since 2009. North Carolina can do some serious damage this year, but that potential Sweet Sixteen match-up against either Kentucky or Indiana worries me. One team, I think can make some unexpected noise is Texas, if they can win their first game, they’ll have a great chance at playing Texas A&M then Oklahoma, if they beat A&M. Those are two very interesting match-ups to watch out for. As for my #1 seeds, I have two losing in the Sweet Sixteen and another one losing in the Elite Eight, and the last one making it to the Final Four. Michigan St. is my pick for the National Champion mainly because of Tom Izzo and Denzel Valentine.


                                                             Steve Zavala
Departments Covered: All
Twitter Handle: @SportsTalkFeed
Biggest Upset: Tied with Fresno State over Utah and Saint Joes over Oregon
Cinderella: Notre Dame and Cal
Team seed 2-16 to watch out for: Oklahoma, Cal, Notre Dame, Miami
Final Four: Cal, Oklahoma, UNC, Michigan State
Champion: UNC
Rationale: This NCAA Tournament could be known as the year of West basketball. All the love is in conferences such as the SEC, Big 10, Big 12, and the ACC but how about the Pac-12? Watch out for Cal, USC, Arizona, and even non-Pac12 schools such as Gonzaga, and Fresno State in this tournament. Starting with Cal, Jaylen Brown can take over in this tournament and make his case as to why he should be regarded as the best player in the upcoming draft. Don’t overlook Arizona either as Sean Miller has the talent with Ryan Anderson and Gabe York to make another Elite 8 run.


                                                            Sheniece Chappell
Departments Covered: College Football, College Basketball, NBA, and NFL
Twitter handle: @JustAskShay
Biggest Upset: Pittsburgh over Wisconsin
Cinderella(s): Seton Hall
Team seeded 2-16 to watch out for: Seton Hall and Iowa
Final Four: Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan State, Duke
Champion: Kentucky over Kansas
Rationale: When it comes to March Madness anything goes and everything that’s unspeakable always happens. I picked Kentucky to beat Kansas in the Finals and to be the team cutting down the nets in Houston. Why? Reason one, I’m a UK fan, go Cats! Reason two, the Cats managed to avenge their losses against Texas A&M and LSU, so they can get it done against Kansas too. Kentucky’s defense will be big in the tournament. Tyler Ulis’ head on defense will be one of the key factors for Kentucky’s success. But we also need to see more from Skal Labissière and keep the big guys out of foul trouble. I think Seton Hall is the closets to being the Cinderella team. They put on a close but good-winning performance against the No. 1 seed Villanova and No. 2 seed Xavier in the Big East tourney. They’re a sleeper that can get past Utah, but I don’t think they have enough defense to stop an all-around powerful Michigan State team.

                                                             Dan Ward
Departments covered: NBA, MLB, College Basketball
Twitter handle: @Dan_Ward_11
Biggest Upset: #9 over #1 UVA in Second Round.
Cinderella(s): #13 Hawaii and #9 Butler.
Team seeded 2-15 to watch out for: #5 Purdue out of the Midwest Region.
Final Four: #2 Villanova, #2 Oklahoma, #1 UNC, #2 Michigan State.
Champion: Michigan State.
Rationale: The powerful Butler offense will break through the stout defense of Virginia who will struggle to keep up with the pace of play set by Butler. The Warriors are banned from postseason play next year, so they are going to leave it all on the floor this year, resulting in a Sweet 16 appearance. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, will shock the world by knocking UVA out early to get to the Sweet 16. Their size and offensive efficiency are going to cause a lot of matchup problems in the Tournament. The two seeds have it (except Xavier). Any of the 2 seeds has an argument to be a number one seed. While there will be some upsets in the early rounds, the Final Four will see the best schools battling it out. They are always a great tournament team, and this year they have the team to lead them to the promise land. As long as Denzel Valentine and Bryn Forbes stay healthy and on the court, Michigan State will be crowned with their 1st National Championship since 2000.
                                                             Justin Szabo
Departments covered: NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAAF, MLB, Pro Wrestling
Twitter handle: @BmSzabo
Biggest Upset: UNC Asheville over Villanova/Hawaii over Cal
UNCA/Nova- Nova is notorious for choking in the big dance and UNC Asheville has looked good when I got the chance to watch them during the season.
Hawaii/Cal- Hawaii plays up to their toughest opponents and their tough defense could pose trouble to Cal’s sometimes anemic offense.
Cinderella(s): Gonzaga, Iona, Temple to the S16 and Butler to E8
Team seeded 2-15 to watch out for: Maryland, have tons of talent could put it together for a deep run.
Final Four: Oklahoma, Kansas, UNC, Michigan State
No surprises here.
Champion: Michigan State
Rationale: A team that has played like the best team in the nation all season. Got snubbed from being a one seed, Izzo will keep them motivated and hungry on the road to another championship.

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