By ZACHARY MYERS
March 16, 2021
The time has come. March Madness is one of the most hyped-up sports events in America. Millions of basketball fans fill out their brackets to predict who’s going to win the NCAA championship. That’s what I’m going to do as well. I'll start with the men since they tip off first this week. Then, I'll add the women in another post.
My men’s first-round surprises:
I'm predicting multiple first-round surprises. First is the matchup between (6) USC and the winner of (11) Witchita State vs (11) Drake. First, I think that Witchita State will win their play-in game and I also think they will beat USC in their first-round matchup. This is because Witchita State—even in its losses—has proven they can hang with the big guns in their conference in Cincinnati and Houston. They also have an up-and-coming sophomore named Tyson Etienne, whose points doubled since his freshman year and has improved his 3-point percentage. He will be a key piece in their win against USC
The second upset I'm predicting is (5) Colorado against (12) Georgetown. This should be a popular upset because of Georgetown zooming through the Big East and winning the conference title. I think Georgetown will win because if they can win the Big East in a conference that includes Villanova, Creighton, and Seton Hall, they can beat one of the best Pac-12 teams. Their guidance under head coach and alumni Patrick Ewing has proven successful against big-name competition and can lead them to success again in the NCAA tournament.
My next two I don’t consider upsets, but I think (11) Michigan State will beat (6) BYU and (10) Maryland will beat (7) UConn. While they are ranked higher, I don't consider BYU and UConn better teams. BYU plays in a weak conference and hasn’t had their chance to play the big guns other than Gonzaga. UConn also hasn’t proven that they can win against big-name teams in their own conference, so they should lose in the first round. I also have (5) Villanova beating (12) Winthrop. Now technically, this is not an upset except for the fact that Villanova's two best players will not be playing in the game. I still think that even though they were the #1 seed in their conference, Winthrop won’t be able to compete with a consistent tournament competitor like Villanova.
Second round input:
The second round of the tournament may be better than the first round. I predict a couple more upsets in this round. One is (11) Michigan State against (3) Texas. While Texas has beaten some great Big 12 teams, such as West Virginia and Kansas, Michigan State is the only team to beat three top 5 teams this year. And while Michigan State doesn’t look as good as they usually do, the coaching of Tom Izzo should be the difference for Michigan State against a top tier Big 12 team. The second upset is (10) Virginia Tech against (2) Ohio State. Virginia Tech is a team I’m high on in this tournament because they have some great players such as Cartier Diarra. Plus, Ohio State hasn’t been consistent lately and they haven’t been able to beat the best of the bunch in their conference, so I don’t think they can beat the third-ranked ACC team.
By ZACHARY MYERS
March 20, 2021
The women’s brackets can be a little easier to predict because of the fact that you know who most of the best women’s teams are. I do think that the #1 seeds, Stanford and UConn, will breeze past their opponents, but NC State may cut it close.
My women's upsets:
One will be (12) UC Davis beating (5) Missouri State. UC Davis has done well in a good Big West Conference and been competitive against some good teams like Oregon. Missouri State also hasn’t beaten anyone notable besides teams in their conference.
I also think that teams like (11) FGCU, (13) VCU, and (12) SF Austin will upset their opponents. FGCU actually has been able to beat the top of their conference in their tournament, unlike their opponent Michigan, who lately can’t beat their best Big 10 teams like Northwestern and Maryland. VCU will win because they’ve been on a recent surge in the conference tournament after having a mediocre regular season, winning the Atlantic 10 conference.
Indiana like most teams that will be upset, hasn’t been able to win against the best teams in or outside of the Big 10. (12) SF Austin will also beat (5) Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech didn’t do that well in their conference tournament and is susceptible to losing against the best teams in a conference. SF Austin should be able to beat Georgia and I think they will win by more than 10 points.
Second Round input:
I have a good number of upsets in the second round as well. The women’s tournament can be a lot more competitive than the men’s. (11) UC Davis continues to advance in the tournament, beating (4) Arkansas. UC Davis like I’ve said can beat the best teams out of their conference with their great success in their conference. Arkansas also hasn’t been great lately against the lowly competition.
(6) Oregon will also beat (3) Georgia because Oregon has had a long success in the NCAA tournament and while Georgia has been a great team this season, Oregon’s long-term experience will guide them to a win.
This may be surprising but I think (7) Northwestern will beat (2) Louisville. Northwestern is actually a better team than people would think, being able to compete with the best Big 10 teams like Michigan and Maryland. Louisville also lately hasn’t been able to beat not-great teams with ease as a 2 seed should be. While the game will be close, Northwestern will be able to pull out a good win.
As the tournament advances, while the games can become a bit more predictable, I still think that there will at least one upset. The first being (6) Texas against (2) Maryland. Texas is a team I’m surprisingly high on after watching them in the Big 12 tournament. While they lost, it seems with their regular season they can compete with the best teams. Maryland will force OT but will fall in the extra frame. This I don’t consider an upset but I have (2) Baylor losing to (3) Tennessee. Tennesse has been playing great in a pretty good SEC women’s conference and I think they can hold their own in this game
Elite Eight and Final Four:
Everyone will advance as they should in these games. Texas A&M is a team that surprises me with how good they’ve been playing and while they won’t beat NC State, they will keep it close. I do have a hot take that (1) South Carolina will lose to (6) Texas in the Elite 8. Texas has the star power to beat South Carolina but they just need to stop AP All American Aliyah Boston. The Final Four is where it will get interesting. UConn vs NC State has the potential to be a better game than the championship. I have UConn advancing to the final and even though I like Texas, they can’t stop all of Stanford’s players and will lose by at least 10+.
Here is where the best game will be played (1) Stanford vs (1) UConn. And my winner will be… UConn! UConn has the best coaching in women’s basketball with Geno Auriemma and his talented staff (which will have to coach the first couple of games as Geno stays in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19). They also have a rising star in Paige Bueckers, who has been blazing this season. She's best in the biggest moments, and I think she will continue her success in the most important game.