Predictions are like asses, everyone has one and they typically stink. On ESPN Selection show, three of the four “experts” predicted a Duke-North Carolina title game. First, if that really does happen, I’m taking it as a true sign of the apocalypse. If you’re not a fan of either school, that matchup certainly would make you feel like you are “trapped in a cycle of suffering.”
When it comes to making projections, if you have a crippling gambling addiction like me, that cost you your wife and child, then the smart money says to go chalk. Upsets happen, yes. Our ability to predict them, not so much. On the CBS selection show on Sunday, Seth Davis nearly declared victory for all the 12-13-14 seeds in the tournament. Now you can run with that and see where it takes you.
Anyhow, here are Big Shirtless Rob’s worthless predictions for the 2017 NCAA Tournament:
Note: All stats come from Ken Pom. If you’re not paying to have access to his site, you don’t know a lick about college basketball.
Yeah, I make round one predictions. There is no shame in it.
#16 New Orleans over #16 Mount St. Mary’s
Fun fact: Mount St. Mary’s began the season 1-11. Anyhow, the Mountaineers can’t rebound. They are 328th in offensive rebound percentage. What makes that really bad is they’re actually better at offensive rebounding than they are at defensive rebounding (336th).
#11 Wake Forest over #11 Kansas State
I think a proper introduction is due: America, meet John Collins. You’re going to like this guy.
#16 NC Central over #16 UC Davis
One team (NC Central) can play solid defense. The other (UC Davis), can’t score.
#11 USC over #11 Providence
No one thinks the Trojans belong in the tournament. Never underestimate the power of a good chip on the shoulder.
#1 Villanova over #16 New Orleans
This one won’t be close. Out of the entire basketball landscape that features 351 teams, only two teams are worse at holding onto the ball than the Privateers. The Wildcats will force over 20 turnovers and win by 39.
#9 Virginia Tech over #8 Wisconsin
The Badgers can’t defend the three (306th according to Ken Pom), while the Hokies love to launch it from deep (9th in 3p%)
#12 U.N.C. Wilmington over #5 Virginia
Watching the Cavaliers try to score a basket is much like watching me hit on the prom queen. It’s pathetic and pointless. The Seahawks can’t play defense, but against Tony Bennett’s squad, they don’t really have to.
#4 Florida over #13 East Tennessee State
Since center John Egbunu went out with a torn ACL, the Gators are just 3-3, although to be fair, five of those games were against tournament teams. This is why the Buccaneers are a popular upset pick in the first-round. I’m not buying it. Egbunu was inconsistent at best. Sure it hurts Florida’s front-court depth, but they’ll be able to hold off East Tennessee State.
#6 S.M.U. over #11 U.S.C.
We already have our first rematch of the season. These two went at it back on November 25. The Trojans walked away with a 78-73 victory, behind 12 three-pointers. However, that game was in the Galen Center and the Mustangs are a much improved team. Since starting the season 4-3, SMU has won a stunning 26 of 27 games.
#14 New Mexico State over #3 Baylor
Sorry Scott Drew, but no team has impressed me less than the Bears. Since starting the season 20-1, Baylor has dropped six of eleven and since mid-January, have just one win over a tournament team (West Virginia on Feb 27).
#2 Duke over #15 Troy
This matchup features two teams that had to win four games in four days to earn a tournament title. Of course, Duke’s run featured four victories against four teams in Ken Pom’s top-35, while the Trojans have yet to face a top-35 team.
#10 Marquette over #7 South Carolina
Come on, there isn’t a god in existence that would deny us a Kryzewski vs Wojciechowski matchup in round two.
#1 Gonzaga over #16 South Dakota State
The Gonzaga Bulldogs are to basketball what Allison Williams is to on-screen nudity. They’re always there, always teasing us, yet when it’s all said and done, we don’t even get a nipple. Still, the Jackrabbits, who were under .500 before their conference tournament, should give them little trouble.
#8 Northwestern over #9 Vanderbilt
A year after we saw the Chicago Cubs win a World Series, it’s fitting that Chicago’s forgotten stepchild, Northwestern, makes it to the NCAA Tournament, ending a 78-year drought. I would say that hell has frozen over, but it hasn’t snowed in Chicago this year because of
Global Warming natural weather patterns. The Commodores are the slight favorite, but I’m not impressed since it seems like half their victories came against the Gators.
#5 Notre Dame over #12 Princeton
This is a dangerous game and it has nothing to do with Princeton. I know almost nothing about the Tigers except they’re terrible at getting to the free throw line and they’re even worse at making them. Instead, the Irish should be worried because this is the first game on Thursday afternoon. That’s always a dangerous game for the higher seed. Still, I have too much faith in Mike Brey.
#4 West Virginia over #13 Bucknell
No team is better at forcing turnovers than Bob Huggins’ squad. Bad news for the Bison, who turn it over at an alarming rate.
#6 Maryland over #11 Xavier
When was the last time a team lost six straight in the month of February, didn’t win their conference tournament, but still made it to the Big Dance? Seriously, I’m asking. Anyhow, I don’t see Xavier advancing without Edmond Sumner and you shouldn’t either.
#14 Florida Gulf Coast over #3 Florida State
This should be interesting. The Seminoles are the king of Florida sports right now, thanks to both the football team and basketball team playing at a high level. Yet, this game is in Orlando. If you were wondering, the Eagles play in Fort Myers, which is three hours away, while Tallahassee is nearly a four hour drive. Something tells me this will feel like a home game for a proven Gulf Coast squad.
#10 Virginia Commonwealth over Saint Mary’s
Sorry Saint Mary’s, being Gonzaga’s bitch every year is no way to go through life.
#2 Arizona over #15 North Dakota
Fun fact, trying to find a black girl in a Arizona sorority video is like playing Where’s Waldo, if Waldo didn’t exist. At least North Dakota has that over the Wildcats.
#1 Kansas over #16 North Carolina Central
Let’s just assume that the Jayhawks got their “what the hell just happened” out of their system against TCU in the Big 12 tournament.
#9 Michigan State over #8 Miami, Fl
Both teams enter the tournament having dropped three of four and while both coaches are two of the best, my money is on Izzo.
#5 Iowa State over #12 Nevada
The Cyclones have beaten six of the last seven tournament teams they have faced and that includes a overtime win at Allen Fieldhouse.
#4 Purdue over #13 Vermont
Celeb Swanigan. That is all.
#11 Rhode Island over #6 Creighton
The Rams have only beaten two teams this year that are in the tournament, Cincinnati and VCU (twice), but they’re getting healthy and have won eight straight. Speaking of, Creighton was a popular final four sleeper pick, but then guard Maurice Watson tore an ACL and that’s how a 18-1 start to the season turned into a 7-8 finish.
#3 Oregon over #14 Iona
This has been a popular first-round upset because of the injury to Oregon’s Chris Boucher. I get it. It’s going to sting…eventually. Luckily for the Ducks, the Gaels of Iona are not one of the teams that can take advantage of it. Oregon will shutdown Iona’s from long range and win by 20.
#10 Oklahoma State over #7 Michigan
Since skidding off the runway the Wolverines have skidded into our hearts, winning four straight to take the Big Ten tournament championship, including one win wearing their practice jerseys. Yet, this is a team that was just 17-11 in the 28 games for the tournament and I just don’t see them having an answer for Jawun Evans.
#2 Louisville over #15 Jacksonville State
In case you don’t know, Jacksonville State is not in Jacksonville, Florida. It’s in Alabama. According to Wikipedia, which can never be wrong, there are 19 different cities named Jacksonville. Are they all named after Andrew Jackson? Seems to obvious to me, although I guess Indiankillerville would have been too over the top?
#1 North Carolina over #16 Texas Southern
The Tigers of Texas Southern are 77th in Offensive Rebound %, according to Ken Pom. Not bad. Of course, the Tar Heels are first, so there’s that.
#9 Seton Hall over #8 Arkansas
It’s the battle of the bubbles, as these two sat on the bubble all through January and February. Anyhow, the man to know is Angel Delgado. He leads the nation in rebounds, with 13.1 boards per game. He also averages 15.3 points per game.
#5 Minnesota over #12 Middle Tennessee
Everyone remembers what Middle Tennessee did last year, taking down Michigan State in the tournament’s biggest upset. That was last year. It’s hard to be a Cinderella twice.
#4 Butler over #13 Winthrop
When you sweep Villanova in two games, like Butler has done, you’re doing something right.
#11 Wake Forest over #6 Cincinnati
Expect a high scoring affair because 17 times this season either Wake or their opponent scored at least 88 points. Twice, both teams broke 88. In their last nine games, a team has broken 88 in eight of them (four times it was the Demon Deacons, four times it was their opponent).
#3 UCLA over #14 Kent State
UCLA’s Lonzo Ball has a father and he’s the absolute worse. Really, the worse. Nothing would make me happier than to watch the cutaways to dad as Kent State upsets the Bruins in round one. It won’t happen, but it would be sweet.
#10 Wichita State over #7 Dayton
With the Shockers in the South, it’s probably save to rename this region the Ken Pom region. Why? Three teams in this corner of the bracket are among his top-eight. North Carolina and Kentucky are 3rd and 4th, while Wichita State sits 8th. Something tells me the committee doesn’t read Ken Pom.
#2 Kentucky over #15 Northern Kentucky
The Noresmen (of Northern Kentucky, in case you didn’t know) are a fun little story, as they earned a trip to the Big Dance in the first year they became eligible.
#1 Villanova over #9 Virginia Tech
The Wildcats are the defending champ, are part of lego history and lost just three games this year, but is it me or are they really not getting a lot of love this year? Hell, they’re not even the favorite in the East region. Seniors Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins have played 128 career games for Nova and have won four Big East regular season titles, two Big East tournament titles and one national title.
#4 Florida over #12 U.N.C. Wilmington
As long as the Gators aren’t facing Vanderbilt, they should be fine to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
#6 S.M.U. over #14 New Mexico State
I love S.M.U. and so does Ken Pom (ranked 11th). Semi Ojeleye, a Duke transfer, is one of the better players most people have never seen. By the end of the first weekend of the tournament, that will change.
#2 Duke over #10 Marquette
Coach K doesn’t like facing his former players. He tries to avoid scheduling them. However, this year he’ll have no choice. Wojo’s squad is the best in the nation at three-point percentage and a team that can hit from deep is a dangerous team. However, they couldn’t a paralyzed cat in a paper bag, plus Duke’s perimeter defense is top-notch, as they are 4th in the nation in defending the 3p%.
#1 Gonzaga over #8 Northwestern
Here is the concern I have for the Bulldogs. I agree they are one of the best, but around this time of year, it’s not just about talent. Outside of a half against Saint Mary’s and that loss against BYU, they really haven’t been challenged since early December. We have no idea how they will perform in a one-point game with less than a minute on the clock. I’m not willing to predict a Northwestern upset, but I’m curious to see a tight game.
#5 Notre Dame over #4 West Virginia
The Mountaineers thrive off turnovers, but that will be a problem against the Irish. Notre Dame is first in the nation in turnover %, which is pretty amazing since they share the rock so well.
#6 Maryland over #14 Florida Gulf Coast
The Terrapins have dropped six of ten entering the tournament and I’m not really convinced that Mark Turgeon is a great coach, but it’s hard to pick against a team that has road wins at Northwestern, Minnesota and Michigan.
#2 Arizona over#10 Virginia Commonwealth
Did you know Allonzo Trier was on the cover of The New York Magazine when he was thirteen years old? It was a 8,000-word essay. I can guarantee you I will live and die on this earth and I’ll never have 8,000 words even said about me.
#1 Kansas over #9 Michigan State
Tom Izzo vs Bill Self. If this was a porn, I might actually pay to watch it. Still, this year’s Spartans are not like previous Spartans. The Jayhawks will advance, winning by double-digits.
#4 Purdue over #5 Iowa State
Celeb Swanigan. That is all.
#11 Rhode Island over #3 Oregon
Rhode Island’s E.C. Matthews will be one of your favorite stories in this year’s tournament. Last year, he tore his ACL just 10 minutes into the season and now he’s going to lead the Rams into the Sweet Sixteen.
#2 Louisville over #10 Oklahoma State
Here’s what worries me about the Cardinals. Of all the players on their roster, none of them have any post-season experience. Only a few played a small role back in 2014-15, but that’s it. During their collapse against Duke in the ACC Tournament, that lack of experience showed. I’m not saying they won’t beat the Cowboys, but the further along we go, the harder it becomes.
#1 North Carolina over #9 Seton Hall
I love this matchup. I really, really do. It’s Carolina’s monster frontcourt vs Angel Delgado, the rebound king. Both these teams are top-30 in offensive and defensive rebounding. I’m picking the Tar Heels, but this will be close.
#5 Minnesota over #4 Butler
Two Patino’s, which should be the name of pizza joint somewhere in Jersey, will be in the Sweet Sixteen.
#3 UCLA over #11 Wake Forest
If there ever was a game that will feature two teams that will break 100, this is the one. My pick: UCLA takes it, 108-100.
#2 Kentucky over #10 Wichita State
Kentucky Coach John Calipari doesn’t like the way the selection committee does things. Well, we don’t like one-and-done players. We don’t always get what we want.
#1 Villanova over #4 Florida
One advantage that Nova has over the Gators (besides being better) is the fact the East Regional will be played in Madison Square Garden, a venue the Wildcats just played at three times in the Big East tournament. Of course, Florida played there as well, losing to Duke at MSG back in early December.
#2 Duke over #6 S.M.U.
If I was a member of the Cameron Crazies, this game would scare the shit out of me. The Mustangs are way better than their six-seed. They can run, they can shoot and they love to rebound. There is also the whole Semi Ojeleye revenge factor to consider. Still, I don’t have the guts to pick against Duke. Man, I’m pathetic.
#1 Gonzaga over #5 Notre Dame
Can I just say Mark Few is due?
#2 Arizona over #6 Maryland
I expect Melo Trimble to have a fantastic tournament, but I just don’t see Maryland keeping the Wildcats off the glass.
#1 Kansas over #4 Purdue
Frank Mason, Josh Jackson, Devonte’ Graham > Celeb Swanigan
#11 Rhode Island over #2 Louisville
As the season has gone on, the Rams have gotten better and better, especially on the defensive end. In fact, in Atlantic 10 games only, Rhode Island is 1st in defense efficiency, first in effective FG%, first in defensive 3p% and 1st in defensive block%.
#1 North Carolina over #5 Minnesota
One of the sexier match ups I’m looking forward to if things play out would be Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy vs. Isaiah Hicks of Carolina. The latter has the height, but I’m curious what he could do against Murphy’s short (6’6) but stout 240-pound frame.
#3 UCLA over #2 Kentucky
This game features five freshmen who will most likely be first-round picks. That impressive, but doesn’t Kentucky typically have five first-round freshmen all by themselves? Anyhow, the Bruins have been a problem for Coach Cal. Not only did they lose to UCLA at home this year, but they lost to them out in Los Angeles the year before.
#2 Duke over #1 Villanova
Okay, how do you beat Villanova? Pack the paint. The Wildcats are second in the nation in offensive adjusted efficiency. They’re second in 2p% and FT%, However, they’re average at best from three. Case in point…in their three loses this year, Villanova shot just 18 of 84 from three (21%).
#2 Arizona over #1 Gonzaga
The last time these two faced off back on December 3, the Bulldogs walked away with a seven-point win in the Staples Center. Of course, that game didn’t feature Allonzo Trier and Parker Jackson-Cartwright and this time, having those two will make all the difference for Arizona.
#1 Kansas over #11 Rhode Island
Danny Hurley’s bunch has been my Cinderella throughout this tournament, but the slippers fall off against the Jayhawks. Too much firepower to contend with.
#3 UCLA over #1 North Carolina
Right around here, the Steve Alford chatter to Indiana will begin to peak.
#2 Duke over #2 Arizona
This is what is scary…barring injury, this will be the longest stretch this Duke team will be healthy. Amile Jefferson will be a scoring threat inside, Grayson Allen will be tearing it up through the lane and Harry Giles will start to remind folks of what he accomplished in high school.
#1 Kansas over #3 UCLA
The Bruins might have the lottery picks, but in the Final Four, experience trumps all.
#2 Duke over #1 Kansas
These two faced off back in mid-November in Madison Square Garden and the Jayahwks nearly blew a 10-point lead with under seven to play, before Frank Mason went all hero on everybody. The thing to remember in that game was the Blue Devils were without Jason Tatum and without Harry Giles. That’s huge, at least when it comes to Tatum, who is entering the tournament as one of the most dangerous players out there.