2017 NCAA Tournament preview

March 16, 2017

As March Madness is now upon us, here’s a look at The Rambler staff’s predictions for this year’s tournament:

West Region

The West region of this year’s NCAA Tournament has a surplus of quality teams. With Gonzaga being a number 1 seed, they are expected to make a deep run with a massive front court paired with experienced guard play. Although much doubt surrounds the near perfect Bulldogs due to an underwhelming strength of schedule, the Zags are for real and boast an impressive resume, being rewarded with a top seed.

Teams such as Notre Dame, West Virginia, Florida State, and Saint Mary’s all have a chance to make a lasting impact on the tournament and will almost certainly ruin some brackets. It is these teams that make this arguably the most talented part of this year’s bracket as all have a legitimate chance to get hot and win multiple games in a row. The most entertaining first round contest may very well be Vanderbilt taking on Northwestern in the 8-9 game. However, the best team could be 2 seed Arizona. They are projected to match up against Gonzaga in the regional final.

My pick is Arizona to advance to its first Final Four under Sean Miller, in large part due to 7’0″ matchup nightmare Lauri Markkanen along with the return of lead guard Allonzo Trier from a suspension earlier in the year. Here are my picks for the West Region for this season’s NCAA Tournament:

Round of 64

1 Gonzaga vs. 16 South Dakota St–Gonzaga

8 Northwestern vs. 9 Vanderbilt–Vanderbilt

5 Notre Dame vs. 12 Princeton–Notre Dame

4 West Virginia vs. 13 Bucknell–West Virginia

6 Maryland vs. 11 Xavier–Maryland

3 FSU vs. 14 FGCU–FSU

7 Saint Mary’s vs. VCU 10–Saint Mary’s

2 Arizona vs. 15 North Dakota–Arizona

Round of 32

Gonzaga vs. Vanderbilt–Gonzaga

Notre Dame vs. West Virginia-West Virginia

Maryland vs. FSU–FSU

Saint Mary’s vs. Arizona–Arizona

Sweet Sixteen

Gonzaga vs. West Virginia–Gonzaga

FSU vs. Arizona–Arizona

Elite Eight

Gonzaga vs. Arizona–Arizona

South Region

The South Region is looking very strong in the first round. Many possible teams are likely to come out of this corner, but only one can survive. The teams are as follows: #1 – North Carolina, #2 Kentucky, #3 – UCLA, #4 – Butler, #5 – Minnesota, #6 – Cincinnati, #7 – Dayton, #8 – Arkansas, #9 – Seton Hall, #10 – Wichita State, #11 – Kansas State, #12 – Middle Tennessee, #13 – Winthrop, #14 – Kent State, #15 – Northern Kentucky, and #16 – Texas Southern.

This region is one of the hardest to pick for me because there are teams that really battle with each other no matter what the rankings are. Past March Madness tournaments have proven that upsets happen, and when you enter the tournament, your record is 0-0.

These are the matchups of the South Region along with my predictions:

Round of 64

1 North Carolina vs. 16 Texas Southern — North Carolina

8 Arkansas vs. 9 Seton Hall — Seton Hall

5 Minnesota vs. 12 Middle Tennessee — Minnesota

4 Butler vs. 13 Winthrop — Butler

6 Cincinnati vs. 11 Kansas State — Cincinnati

3 UCLA vs. 14 Kent State — UCLA

7 Dayton vs. 10 Wichita State — Wichita State

2 Kentucky vs. 15 Northern Kentucky — Kentucky

Round of 32

1 North Carolina vs. 9 Seton Hall — North Carolina

5 Minnesota vs. 4 Butler – Minnesota

6 Cincinnati vs. 3 UCLA — UCLA

10 Wichita State vs. 2 Kentucky — Kentucky

Sweet Sixteen

1 North Carolina vs. 5 Minnesota — North Carolina

3 UCLA vs. 2 Kentucky — UCLA

Elite 8

1 North Carolina vs 3 UCLA — UCLA

I did not predict many upsets in this bracket, but I have chosen the UCLA Bruins to advance into the Final Four. Beating UNC will be an upset, but this tournament is made off of upsets. UCLA has ended their season in a strong way with the lead of freshman guard Lonzo Ball.

East Region

The East region is a very good one with Duke and Villanova in it. Although we do not see too many upsets in this region a couple here and there are bound to happen, such as USC and Marquette upsetting both of their opponents, and Duke losing to Baylor. Last year’s champion, Villanova, is the team I think will represent this region in the final four. Here are my Eastern Region predictions:

Round of 64

Villanova vs. St. Mary’s —Villanova

Wisconsin vs. Va. Tech—Wisconsin

Virginia vs. UNC Wilmington —Virginia

Florida vs. ETSU— Florida


Baylor vs. New Mexico st.—Baylor

South Carolina vs. Marquette — Marquette

Duke Vs Troy— Duke

Round of 32

Villanova vs. Wisconsin —Villanova

Virginia vs. Florida— Florida

USC vs. Baylor— Baylor

Marquette vs. Duke — Duke

Sweet Sixteen

Villanova vs. Florida—Villanova

Baylor vs. Duke— Baylor

Elite Eight

Villanova vs. Baylor— Villanova

Midwest Region

Known to many experts as the weakest region in the 2017 NCAA Basketball Tournament, the Midwest region has many intriguing match ups and possible upsets that could really shake up the bracket. The teams in this region 1. Kansas, 2. Louisville, 3. Oregon, 4. Purdue, 5. Iowa State, 6. Creighton, 7. Michigan, 8. Miami (FL), 9. Michigan State, 10. Oklahoma State, 11. Rhode Island, 12. Nevada, 13. Vermont, 14. Iona, 15. Jacksonville State and 16. UC Davis.

Of course the favorites to win the region will be the number 1 seed Kansas Jayhawks, but there are some sleeper teams to look for in this region. Watch out for the Big Ten Tournament Champion Michigan Wolverines to make a little run and upset Louisville possibly on their way to the second weekend. Also, the preseason 23rd ranked Rhode Island Rams are one of those high seeds to make a run just like Syracuse did last season. Some teams to have disappointing tournaments out of this region could definitely be Louisville and Oregon whose leading rebounder is out with an injury, as well as Miami and Purdue. My predictions round by round are as follows:

Round of 64

1. Kansas vs. 16. NC Central/UC Davis– Kansas

8. Miami (FL) vs. 9. Michigan State– Michigan State

5. Iowa State vs. 12. Nevada– Iowa State

4. Purdue vs. 13. Vermont– Purdue

6. Creighton vs. 11. Rhode Island– Rhode Island

3. Oregon vs. 14. Iona– Oregon

7. Michigan vs. 10. Oklahoma State– Michigan

2. Louisville vs. 15. Jacksonville State– Louisville

Round of 32

1. Kansas vs. 9. Michigan State– Kansas

4. Purdue vs. 5. Iowa State– Iowa State

3. Oregon vs. 11. Rhode Island– Rhode Island

2. Louisville vs. 7. Michigan– Michigan

Sweet Sixteen

1. Kansas vs. 5. Iowa State– Kansas

7. Michigan vs. 11. Rhode Island– Michigan

Elite Eight

1. Kansas vs. 7. Michigan– Kansas

My overall prediction is that the no. 1 seed Kansas Jayhawks will represent the Midwest Region in the Final Four in Phoenix.

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