Bracket 2015: Round of 32

ncaa-basketball-wisconsin-michigan-850x560Now that we’re less than 24 hours away from the big dance, it’s getting to be crunch time to get your bracket all sorted out and finalized before the first game tips off at 12:15 on Thursday afternoon. That also means you have time to change your mind about a dozen times about your bracket, but it doesn’t mean you have to change it. However, by 12:15 whatever your bracket looks like is it. That’s your bracket for 2015, so don’t have any regrets.

With that in mind, today I will be sharing with you the entire rest of my bracket in segments, starting here with the round of 32. Keep in mind that as each round progresses I will be commenting on how my picks did and giving you updated information on each contest, and predictions for future rounds. For those of you playing the Round-by-Round edition, this will help you adjust your picks as each round continues, and for those of you playing the regular brackets it will help you see if the team you chose was really the right team.

As with the round of 64 I will start with the South and end up in the Midwest.

THE SOUTH

Duke (1) vs. San Diego State (8) – Duke has too much firepower for San Diego State to hang in this one, unless of course the Blue Devils remind us that they went through a stretch in the middle of the season where they couldn’t win a game. If the Aztecs can take out Duke in this matchup it bodes well for their chances to make the final, but I don’t think they can trade shot for shot in this one. Pick: DUKE.

S.F. Austin (12) vs. Georgetown (4) – If Georgetown does survive its opening round against E. Washington this will be the end of the road for them against a hot shooting team in S.F. Austin that has no fears. The Hoyas just don’t play well this time of year, not lately anyway, and the 4-seed was generous for them. Look for S.F. Austin to exploit them from outside and pull off the upset. Pick: S.F. AUSTIN.

SMU (6) vs. Iowa State (3) – There’s a reason for the 3 beside Iowa State’s name, and that’s because they’re played really great fundamental basketball all season, but especially down the stretch. That’s what they’ll need if they’re going to defeat an SMU team that won its conference and is also coming into the dance on fire. I think Iowa State will do just enough. Oh yeah, and did I mention they have Georges Niang? Pick: IOWA STATE.

Davidson (10) vs. Gonzaga (2) – Yes, Gonzaga’s had trouble in the past in just this type of situation, in tournament time against a team they should dismantle. I think they might have some trouble this time around too, but they’ve proven this year that they’re resilient and they won’t let the past decide the future. In this future they have the better team and they will play like it. Pick: GONZAGA.

THE EAST

Villanova (1) vs. LSU (9) – Well, LSU definitely matches up well against Nova, I have to admit that. But the Tigers have been inconsistent, not always putting together a full game. Ask BYU how that worked out for them, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. What Villanova does well is that they don’t beat themselves, and in order for LSU to emerge from this contest intact they’ll have to be flawless. I don’t see it happening. Pick: VILLANOVA.

N. Iowa (5) vs. Louisville (4) – There’s just something to be said about Rick Pitino doing what he can with what he has. While last season’s tournament was a disappointment, and this year has been a bit up and down, I think he will make the right choices here to avoid getting beat by a hot N. Iowa team. While it might not be the trendy pick in a year when N. Iowa is supposed to turn the corner, I nevertheless go with the coach in red in a close contest. Pick: LOUISVILLE.

Dayton (11) vs. Oklahoma (3) – So it’s a bit of a stretch to assume that Dayton will be here, especially after Hampton and Ole Miss won on Wednesday night, but I’m still going to assume it, because Dayton was always the best team in the First Four, and they matchup well not only with Providence but also with Oklahoma. The Flyers have the strength defensively to cause problems for that Sooner offense, and I think they keep the score down. That’s the recipe for another upset. Pick: DAYTON.

Georgia (10) vs. Virginia (2) – Many experts are saying that Virginia is playing like a #1-seed, and they’re also expecting Michigan State to be playing this game against them, but I disagree with both. When push came to shove Virginia lost those close games that they should have won this year, and for me this one will be close. Georgia is no pushover, and Virginia wasn’t playing its best basketball at the end of the season. But cream rises to the top, and Virginia qualifies. Pick: VIRGINIA.

THE WEST

Wisconsin (1) vs. Oregon (8) – These Ducks aren’t the same Ducks we saw the past couple of seasons in the tournament, and Wisconsin is decidedly better than they were a year ago. The Badgers know how to win not only the blowouts but the close games as well, and I think this one will be a blowout. They’re an offensive juggernaut and nothing about Oregon says they can hang with them in that respect. Pick: WISCONSIN.

Arkansas (5) vs. North Carolina (4) – This was probably my toughest decision this round because the Razorbacks are a solid team, and North Carolina has been inconsistent. But the Tarheels come into this one on a bit of a run, so they have momentum on their side, and momentum might be the deciding factor come crunch time. Something tells me, though, that Arkansas has the resume to surprise. I’m taking the road less traveled. Pick: ARKANSAS.

Ole Miss (11) vs. Baylor (3) – I had BYU penciled in here, but it’s a good thing I have an eraser. If Ole Miss doesn’t have those lapses that led to such low scoring in the first half against BYU in the First Four it would have been an epic blowout instead of an epic comeback. But now that the beast has awoken, I think they have good matchups the first two rounds, including this one against Baylor. They remind me of that Tennessee team from last year that made a surprise run. I like them to spring the major upset. Pick: OLE MISS.

Ohio State (10) vs. Arizona (2) – Similar to Virginia, many experts say Arizona is really playing like a #1-seed as well, and I would have to once again agree. They may not want a rematch against Wisconsin (they won the first time around) but I have a hard time not seeing one materialize in the Elite 8 the way both teams are playing. That means I don’t see a weakened Ohio State team causing much resistance in this round of 32 matchup. Pick: ARIZONA.

THE MIDWEST

Kentucky (1) vs. Cincinnati (8) – I just don’t see a Cincinnati squad that has trouble scoring matching up well against Kentucky on the offensive end, but their defense might be pesky enough to cause some trouble for the Wildcats. It won’t be anything they can’t figure out, though, so while I see Cincinnati hanging around in this one, Kentucky will pull away at the end. Pick: KENTUCKY.

West Virginia (5) vs. Valparaiso (13) – A lot of people don’t see West Virginia getting by the Bulls in the round of 64 for good reason. They aren’t a strong #5-seed, but they will beat the virginal Bulls to get to this point. However, against a tough Valparaiso squad I think the line ends. The glass slipper is a tough one to fit every year, but I think Valpo has what it takes to move on to the second week with its outstanding defense. Pick: VALPARAISO.

Texas (11) vs. Notre Dame (3) – While Texas is better than an 11-seed, Notre Dame has been seeded correctly in this region because offensively they’re the third best team. Some would say they’re the best offensive team in this region, but regardless, the defense can break down early and often, forcing the offense to be dynamic. If they’re having an off night it could snowball quickly, but I don’t see them needing a dynamic defense against Texas. Pick: NOTRE DAME.

Wichita State (7) vs. Kansas (2) – There’s just something about this Kansas team that smells fishy. They have the same name as some elite teams in the past, and they have Bill Self, but they are afraid of this matchup, as well they should be. Wichita State is the best 7-seed in the tournament, and Self has been trying his best to avoid them for good reason. They match up well against the Jayhawks, who have been maddeningly inconsistent this year, losing several games they should have won. It’s high time for a Shocker in this one. Pick: WICHITA STATE.

The Fantasy Ace

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