Hoping NCAA Tourney picks are on course

Greg Ceilley  REVIEW SPORTS EDITOR

After a disappointing showing in last year’s predictions for the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament, I better take the “Advanced Bracketology” course before I fill out the brackets for this year’s March Madness.

Being a sports editor and an avid college basketball fan, the pressure is on me to bounce back this year and make several accurate NCAA tourney picks. Sure, I listened to many of the college hoops gurus like Dick Vitale and Jay Bilas make their predictions, and I read up on several of the teams. So, I’m well-versed on the tournament field and ready, I think, to make my predictions.

I normally do fairly well in my tourney prognosticating but there are years where Lady Luck wasn’t on my side and there were several upsets. There are always upsets in the tourney but you just hope you can correctly pick at least a few of them.

These are key areas which have benefited my brackets a majority of past tourneys:

Go with the teams that are hot going into the NCAA Tourney; favor teams with a lot of postseason experience and ones who have top-notch, veteran coaches such as Tom Izzo of Michigan State, Rick Pitino of Louisville and Billy Donovan of Florida; don’t go with your heart as much as going with your mind; and give teams that are playing close to home an edge.

Also, going with my first hunch and using my gut-instinct have helped sometimes in making picks. I hope all these tips are helpful but then again I have struggled from time to time making my picks, so you have to take your chances.

The Wisconsin Badgers have had an outstanding season and I look for them to make a deep run in tourney but fall in the Elite 8 to No. 1-seeded Arizona in the West Regional. I don’t think the Badgers’ defense is strong enough to make it to the Final Four but of course I hope I’m wrong.

There’s a lot of parity this season in NCAA hoops, and you could make an argument for several teams that are capable of winning the title. Florida, the nation’s top-ranked team and the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, Virginia, Michigan State, Iowa State and Louisville are on a roll heading into the tourney. Then there are teams like Michigan, Wisconsin, UCLA, Arizona and Kansas that also have to be reckoned with.

My guest prognosticator is Jason Duff, head boys basketball coach at Plymouth High School. His Final Four teams include Florida, Michigan State, Arizona and Wichita State. Coach Duff’s championship prediction: Michigan State defeating Wichita State.

Yours truly has the following picks: Final Four – Florida, Michigan State, Arizona and Louisville; title game – Florida beating Louisville.

Let the March Madness games begin.


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