2017 Final Bracket

What happens between my preliminary bracket and my final bracket? An awful lot of research,that’s what. But it really all begins during the regular college basketball season. I watched dozens of games this year, or at least pieces of games, enough to have informed opinions about most of the teams now in the bracket. Which is one of the problems, of course, especially this year. Because pretty much every team has flaws, issues that could be exploited and they could be out of this tournament. This year’s bracket is like a house of cards just waiting to implode. Careful now.

If the preliminary bracket is based on gut feelings, the final bracket is based on cold hard facts, facts that might not matter in the end, but facts nonetheless. Remember how I started my preliminary bracket with my Final Four teams? Well, they haven’t changed one iota. That’s one rule I have. Keep the Final Four team steady throughout. There has been quite a bit of movement lower down the rounds, though, from replacing a shaky Florida, to trusting in Xavier, to taking an ETSU ride. Every single matchup was on the table and dissected before coming up with this final bracket.

Here is the entire final bracket, with my changes in bold:

EAST (ROUND of 64)

(1)VILLANOVA vs. (16)Mt.Saint Mary’s* — (1)VILLANOVA
(8)WISCONSIN vs. (9)Virginia Tech — (8)WISCONSIN
(5)Virginia vs. (12)UNC WILMINGTON — (12)UNC WILMINGTON
(4)Florida vs. (13)E. TENNESSEE STATE — (13)E. TENNESSEE STATE
(6)SMU vs. (11)USC* — (6)SMU
(3)BAYLOR vs. (14)New Mexico State — (3)BAYLOR
(7)S. CAROLINA vs. (10)Marquette — (7)S. CAROLINA
(2)DUKE vs. (15)Troy — (2)DUKE

MIDWEST (ROUND OF 64)

(1)KANSAS vs. (16)UC Davis* — (1)KANSAS
(8)Miami vs. (9)MICHIGAN STATE — (9)MICHIGAN STATE
(5)IOWA STATE vs. (12)Nevada — (5)IOWA STATE
(4)PURDUE vs. (13)Vermont — (4)PURDUE
(6)Creighton vs. (11)RHODE ISLAND — (11) RHODE ISLAND
(3)OREGON vs. (14)Iona — (3)OREGON
(7)Michigan vs. (10)OKLAHOMA STATE — (10)OKLAHOMA STATE
(2)LOUISVILLE vs. (15)Jacksonville State — (2)LOUISVILLE

SOUTH (ROUND of 64)

(1)NORTH CAROLINA vs. (16)Texas Southern — (1)NORTH CAROLINA
(8)Arkansas vs. (9)SETON HALL — (9)SETON HALL
(5)Minnesota vs. (12)MIDDLE TENNESSEE — (12)MIDDLE TENNESSEE
(4)BUTLER vs. (13)Winthrop — (4)BUTLER
(6)Cincinnati vs. (11)KANSAS STATE* — (11)KANSAS STATE*
(3)UCLA vs. (14)Kent State — (3)UCLA
(7)Dayton vs. (10)WICHITA STATE — (10)WICHITA STATE
(2)KENTUCKY vs. (15)Northern Kentucky — (2)KENTUCKY

WEST (ROUND of 64)

(1)GONZAGA vs. (16)S. Dakota State — (1)GONZAGA
(8)NORTHWESTERN vs. (9)Vanderbilt — (8)NORTHWESTERN
(5)NOTRE DAME vs. (12)Princeton — (5)NOTRE DAME
(4)WEST VIRGINIA vs. (13)Bucknell — (4)WEST VIRGINIA
(6)Maryland vs. (11)XAVIER — (11)XAVIER
(3)Florida State vs. (14)FLORIDA GULF COAST — (14)FLORIDA GULF COAST
(7)SAINT MARY’S vs. (10)VCU — (7)SAINT MARY’S
(2)ARIZONA vs. (15)N. Dakota — (2)ARIZONA

EAST (ROUND of 32)

(1)VILLANOVA vs. (8)Wisconsin — (1)VILLANOVA
(12)UNC WILMINGTON vs.(13)E. Tennessee State — (12)UNC WILMINGTON
(6)SMU vs. (3)Baylor — (6)SMU
(7)S. Carolina vs. (2)DUKE — (2)DUKE

MIDWEST (ROUND of 32)

(1)KANSAS vs. (9)Michigan State — (1)KANSAS
(5)IOWA STATE vs. (4)Purdue — (5)IOWA STATE
(11)RHODE ISLAND vs. (3)Oregon — (11)RHODE ISLAND
(10)Oklahoma State vs. (2)LOUISVILLE — (2)LOUISVILLE

SOUTH (ROUND of 32)

(1)N. CAROLINA vs. (9)Seton Hall — (1)N. CAROLINA
(12)MIDDLE TENNESSEE vs. (4)Butler — (12)MIDDLE TENNESSEE
(11)Kansas State* vs. (3)UCLA — (3)UCLA
(10)WICHITA STATE vs. (2)Kentucky — (10)WICHITA STATE

WEST (ROUND of 32)

(1)GONZAGA vs. (8)Northwestern — (1)GONZAGA
(5)Notre Dame vs. (4)WEST VIRGINIA — (4)WEST VIRGINIA
(11)XAVIER vs. (14)Florida Gulf Coast —(11)XAVIER
(10)VCU vs. (2)ARIZONA — (2)ARIZONA

EAST (SWEET 16)

(1)VILLANOVA vs. (12)UNC Wilmington — (1)VILLANOVA
(6)SMU vs. (2)DUKE — (2)DUKE

MIDWEST (SWEET 16)

(1)KANSAS vs. (5)Iowa State — (1)KANSAS
(11)Rhode Island vs. (2)LOUISVILLE — (2)LOUISVILLE

SOUTH (SWEET 16)

(1)N. CAROLINA vs. (4)Butler — (1)N. CAROLINA
(3)UCLA vs. (10)Wichita State — (3)UCLA

WEST (SWEET 16)

(1)GONZAGA vs. (4)West Virginia — (1)GONZAGA
(11)Xavier vs. (2)ARIZONA — (2)ARIZONA

EAST (ELITE 8)

(1)VILLANOVA vs. (2)Duke — (1)VILLANOVA

MIDWEST (ELITE 8)

(1)Kansas vs. (2)LOUISVILLE — (2)LOUISVILLE

SOUTH (ELITE 8)

(1)N. Carolina vs. (3)UCLA — (3)UCLA

WEST (ELITE 8)

(1)GONZAGA vs. (2)Arizona — (1)GONZAGA

FINAL FOUR

(1)VILLANOVA vs. (1)Gonzaga — (1)VILLANOVA
(2)LOUISVILLE vs. (3)UCLA — (2)LOUISVILLE

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

(1)VILLANOVA vs. (2)Louisville — (1)VILLANOVA

The biggest change was taking Xavier not just out of the round of 64 but into the second week of the tournament, having them knock out both Maryland and Florida Gulf Coast. For the record, even if Florida State wins that round of 64 game against Gulf Coast, I would still pick Xavier to win the round of 32 game. I also trusted Middle Tennessee to get one round further, and put my faith in Oklahoma State to stop a red hot Michigan team.

And that’s my Final Bracket for 2017. Now comes the waiting to see how those round of 64 games shake out.

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