As a TCU fan, it’s very difficult for me to look at this region as objectively as I’d like to. With Baylor at the head of the pack, it’s hard for me to say that I think that they’re going to run through this bracket. But, here’s the deal – as a semi-objective writer, they’re really really good. This year, they’ve beaten Illinois, Kansas, Texas, and West Virginia once, and they’ve beaten Texas Tech and Oklahoma State twice. Those are all solid tournament teams that have a chance to make a deep run, and Baylor’s made pretty quick work of them. Their offense is deep with knock down shooters Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, and Davion Mitchell, and their defense is strong enough to hold down their opponents.
But they’re not the only team in this bracket that I like. Chris Beard is one of the best coaches in the NCAA, and he has the experience leading teams to the Final Four, which is what he did two years ago when he brought Tech all the way to the Finals. At 17-10 with losses to a lot of tournament teams, it will be a tall order, but the Red Raiders excel at forcing turnovers, scoring defense, and getting to the line. Mac McClung is one of the best scorers in the country, but Marcus Santos-Silva’s inside defense and rebounding might be the most important piece of this Texas Tech puzzle. I like their chances to make another magical Final Four run for all of their fans back in Lubbock.
I love 12 over 5 upsets because they seem to happen the most out of any underdog victory. There’s something really exciting about this Villanova team this year. They’ve lost just one game, and they use an 11 man rotation that throws all different sets at their opponents. As for Villanova, they are sliding. After losing Collin Gillespie, they look like a shell of what they were earlier in the year, which was solidified by their loss to Georgetown in the Big East tournament. As for Purdue losing to UNT, at least one 13 seed has beaten a 4 seed in 25 of the last 35 years, so why not UNT? Purdue is tall, as they always are, but they’re going to have some trouble scoring against this Mean Green defense which has been lockdown all year.
I’m not an Ohio State believer and could easily see myself shaking things up to have them lose to Florida in the second round. They have the makings of a good team especially with their elite free throw % and turnover rate, but they seemed to struggle down the stretch against good opponents. Even as a two seed, I think the ceiling for the Buckeyes is going to be the Sweet Sixteen.
That leaves a matchup of Texas Tech against Baylor in the Elite Eight. For Baylor, it’s very tough to beat a team three times in one year, and that’s the logic I’m going with by picking Tech. This game feels like a toss up, so you have to find the advantages as they present themselves. Give me the Red Raiders joining Gonzaga from the West region as my first two teams heading into the Final Four.
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