Author: Cole Bayer
Andy Katz and I possess one major commonality when it comes to filling out our NCAA Tournament brackets: we’re both going to be wrong. So why not at least support your campus radio station and listen to my analysis instead of his? (If you’re reading this, Andy, all respect.)
Below, you will find a round-by-round, region-by-region preview of the key matchups, storylines, and upsets that could happen during the college basketball postseason. Consider it the only research you’ll have to do this March because I can verifiably guarantee that the following predictions all have a chance of occurring. Technically.
- #1 Gonzaga withstands #16 Georgia State
It took me three exhaustive hours of deliberation to decide on this one, but I have come to the conclusion that Gonzaga will win.
- #7 Murray State dispatches #10 San Francisco
Ah yes, my favorite state in the US—Murray. Its main exports are believed to be basketball and poor references to Joker. Moreover, rent is so high in The Golden City that the San Francisco squad was unable to secure a gym for practice. I’ll go with Murray State.
- #13 Chattanooga shocks #4 Illinois
So apparently Chattanooga’s mascot is named Scrappy Moc. I have no idea what that means, but it sounds awesome. Not many people expect them to beat Illinois, but imagine how ingenious you’ll appear amongst your office pool buddies if they do. Also, I just looked it up, and Scrappy Moc is a northern mockingbird. Dang, that is awesome.
- #14 Colgate topples #3 Wisconsin
Chill, chill, chill. This is only included as a reverse jinx attempt, don’t worry. By assuming such an outcome, it limits the odds of an upset, right? I think that’s how it works. It’ll all make sense soon enough, I promise. Just keep reading.
- Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks edge the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves
Teams not in the Lower 48 should still have fun too. (Note that I rescind my prior guarantee of possible occurrence for this matchup.)
- #5 UConn outshines #4 Arkansas
When it comes to animals, a husky is never not cute. A razorback might be cute in some circumstances, but once you associate Bret Bielema with it, it ceases to be cute.
- #14 Yale marches on past #11 Virginia Tech
My bracket prediction process has regressed to aimlessly picking upsets until one of them (excluding that aforementioned selection from the Midwest region) hits. That’s how you end up with Yale in your Sweet Sixteen.
Sidenote: Forget Scrappy Moc, Virginia Tech has a sharpshooting Middleton High School alumnus on its team named Storm Murphy. Whoa.
- #2 Villanova handles #7 Ohio State
This game would be played on March 20, which is the six-year anniversary of Villanova’s second-round win over another Big Ten foe: Iowa. Such historical precedent—coupled with the Moon’s expected phase of waning gibbous in Pennsylvania that night—should be enough to propel the Wildcats to victory.
- #3 Wisconsin surges past #11 Iowa State
Wait, wasn’t Wisconsin just projected to lose to Colgate in the opening round? Yes, but there is no rule against weaving convoluted narratives into your bracket. After the win over the Badgers, it is discovered that Colgate’s entire starting five played with dental caries—a violation of their university’s code of conduct. With the subsequent self-imposed postseason ban commencing 30 minutes before the second-round game against Iowa State, Wisconsin—which had stuck around in hope of such a development—is tabbed to play the Cyclones instead. Capitalizing on the opportunity brought about by Colgate-gate, the Badgers dance on to the Sweet Sixteen.
Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight
Okay, this whole regional and round-based progression is taking a while, so we’re just going to lump the preantepenultimate and antepenultimate rounds together.
- Sweet Sixteen: #1 Baylor bounces #12 Wyoming
Despite a magical tournament run, Wyoming’s status as the top coal-producing state finally catches up to its basketball team, as multiple players develop pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis and are unable to play against Baylor.
Edit: It appears that Wyoming actually just lost to Indiana in the First Four. I blame it on the pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.
- Sweet Sixteen: #4 Providence stuns #1 Kansas
Honestly, this was the easiest prediction to make. Providence’s mascot is a Friar. KU’s is a Jayhawk. Not the same as a chicken, but still a friable bird. Oops, actually, never mind. Turns out that neither of those was what I thought it was. Oh well, I’m still taking Providence.
- Elite Eight: #12 UAB burns #2 Villanova
At this point, I’ve referenced teams’ mascots an inordinate amount of times in my analysis, but I just don’t understand how anyone could pick against a literal dragon. Look for the UAB Blazers to burst into the Final Four for the first time in school history.
- Elite Eight: #1 Gonzaga escapes #2 Duke
With a strong young frontcourt, Duke is one of the few teams that can match up with Gonzaga’s talented big men. The freshmen rivalry between Duke’s Paolo Banchero and Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren is must-see television, and the Blue Devils will do everything they can to deliver retiring head coach Mike Krzyzewski to one last Final Four. But the Zags, motivated to return there after last year’s title game disappointment, will outpace Duke and avenge a November loss to Krzyzewski’s squad.
- #14 Yale vanquishes #1 Gonzaga
Never mind the admiration you received for choosing Chattanooga over Illinois. If you predict this and those bookworms from New Haven can pull it off, the FBI would investigate you for time travel capabilities. And when Yale inevitably loses in the first round to Purdue, people will laugh a bit because you had them in the national title game, but then they’ll forget. Eventually. So hop aboard the bandwagon for this Cinderella story, which won’t reach midnight until one final test rolls into the Superdome on April 4…
- #3 Wisconsin defeats #14 Yale for the National Championship
What a run for the Badgers, as they become the first team in tournament history to lose a game and still win the title. After extinguishing the Blazers of UAB, the battle against Yale comes down to the wire, but a half-court dunk from Carter Higginbottom wins it for Wisconsin as the final buzzer sounds (yes, à la Space Jam).
In the ensuing celebration, UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank pays homage to Tom Brady and Leo DiCaprio when she announces her return for one more semester at Wisconsin. Back in Madison, the Starship robots throw a massive rager on the roof of Gordon’s Dining and Event Center. What a night.
Well, there you have it—exactly how the NCAA Tournament may possibly occur this year. I wagered a kidney on these predictions, so I’m really banking on them to come true. Regardless, happy March!