NCAA Tournament 2014: Complete Bracket Picks Based On Latest Projections
NCAA Tournament 2014: Complete Picks Based On Latest Bracket Projection
The latest version of Joe Lunardi's NCAA bracket projections were released on February 27th and while they're not set in stone, it's interesting to look at some of the projected match ups in the early going. There are still plenty of teams that could move their way in and out of the tournament as well as many teams that could move up or down in terms of seeding in the tournament field. All of that aside, based on how the bracket would look if the season ended today, it's time to look at every match up.
There will be favorites that fulfill expectations and favorites that disappoint. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there will be teams that roll over and lose like they're supposed to and there will be others that turn into the tournament's Cinderellas. It's hard to spot those teams now, but there are several that fit the mold and that could make for a very entertaining March.
How each team matches up at each juncture of the tournament will go a long way in deciding which team is cutting the nets in early April in Dallas. While there's a chance that a team not in the projected tournament field could possibly win it all, there's a very good chance that a team in this projection will be crowned national champions this season. Only time will tell who captures the heart of the nation and who ultimately wins it all, but if the season ended today, here's how the tournament could play out.
West Region First Round
1 Arizona def. 16 Davidson
9 Gonzaga def. 8 George Washington
5 North Carolina def. 12 North Dakota State
4 San Diego State def. 13 Stephen F. Austin
11 BYU def. 6 Ohio State
3 Virginia def. 14 Mercer
7 Oklahoma def. 10 Colorado
2 Creighton def. 15 UC Santa Barbara
In this region, there aren't many upsets to look for. However, BYU is a very capable sleeper that could knock off Ohio State out of the Big Ten. Some interesting match ups include George Washington vs. Gonzaga and Oklahoma vs. Colorado because those games are seemingly up for grabs. North Dakota State is a sneaky team, so it wouldn't be shocking if they upended North Carolina.
Midwest Region First Round
1 Wichita State def. 16 Alabama State/Weber State
8 Memphis def. 9 Pittsburgh
5 UCLA def. 12 Minnesota/St. John's
4 Saint Louis def. 13 Belmont
11 Oklahoma State def. 6 Massachusetts
3 Michigan def. 14 New Mexico State
10 California def. 7 New Mexico
2 Kansas def. 15 North Carolina Central
There are some more opportunities for some upsets in this region. If Minnesota can sneak into the tournament, they could present problems for UCLA, but they're inconsistent. Oklahoma State would be a really tough match up for a six-seed Massachusetts team and as an 11-seed they would likely be the favorite. California has the chance to be a sleeper in the tournament and could knock off New Mexico with their mix of size and speed.
South Region First Round
1 Florida def. 16 Western Michigan
8 VCU def. 9 Stanford
5 Louisville def. 12 Harvard
4 Iowa State def. 13 Iona
6 Texas def. 11 Tennessee/Providence
3 Michigan State def. 14 Delaware
7 Connecticut def. 10 Xavier
2 Duke def. 15 Georgia State
While some upsets are possible in this region, not enough look likely enough to project them as winners. Michigan State has struggled lately, but they play really well in the tournament and a first round exit is unlikely. Tennessee could be a sleeper this season, but a first-round match up with Texas is a tough one. The Longhorns are playing well as of now and they could stifle the Volunteers. Xavier is another team that could knock off the favorite in their match up; their game with Connecticut is essentially a toss-up.
East Region First Round
1 Syracuse def. 16 High Point/Robert Morris
8 Arizona State def. 9 Kansas State
5 Kentucky def. 12 Green Bay
13 Middle Tennessee def. 4 Cincinnati
11 Baylor def. 6 Iowa
3 Villanova def. 14 Vermont
7 SMU def. 10 St. Joseph's
2 Wisconsin def. 15 Boston University
This region is definitely the one with the most upset opportunity and most intriguing match ups. Cincinnati has been uneven as of late and Middle Tennessee is a team that could sneak up on them. Baylor would be one of the better 11-seeds in recent memory and they could give Iowa, an inexperienced NCAA tournament team, a run for their money. Vermont could keep it close against Villanova and SMU vs. St. Joseph's is interesting as both teams are capable of being surprises in the tournament.
West Region Second Round
1 Arizona def. 9 Gonzaga
5 North Carolina def. 4 San Diego State
3 Virginia def. 11 BYU
7 Oklahoma def. 2 Creighton
Arizona should continue to roll as they simply have more talent than Gonzaga, although the Bulldogs are capable of pushing them to the brink. North Carolina has been playing well as of late and will move past San Diego State if they can play within themselves. Virginia is one of the nation's most underrated teams and could move past BYU if they keep up their offensive efficiency. Oklahoma gained experience in the Big 12 that will help them knock off Creighton if they can limit Doug McDermott offensively.
Midwest Region Second Round
1 Wichita State def. 8 Memphis
4 Saint Louis def. 5 UCLA
11 Oklahoma State def. 3 Michigan
2 Kansas def. 10 California
Saint Louis vs. UCLA could potentially be a great second round match up, but the Billikens' steady offensive attack could help them win a game against a more talented team. Oklahoma State has banded together since Marcus Smart's on-court incident and could be a really surprising team in March.
South Region Second Round
1 Florida def. 8 VCU
5 Louisville def. 4 Iowa State
3 Michigan State def. 6 Texas
2 Duke def. 7 Connecticut
Florida looks to continue to roll into the Sweet Sixteen as the tournament's best team and some other match ups are interesting here as well. Iowa State's inexperience could cost them against Louisville and it wouldn't be shocking if Texas knocked off Michigan State. Duke could have trouble with Connecticut, but Coach K will have his boys playing well at the right time.
East Region Second Round
1 Syracuse def. 8 Arizona State
5 Kentucky def. 13 Middle Tennessee
11 Baylor def. 3 Villanova
7 SMU def. 2 Wisconsin
Kentucky would be fortunate if they drew Middle Tennessee in the second round as they just have too much firepower for that team. Baylor getting hot at the right team means everything and that could be enough to get them past Villanova. SMU really could be the surprise team of this entire tournament and if they play defense the way they can, they're capable of knocking off the Badgers.
1 Arizona def. 5 North Carolina
3 Virginia def. 7 Oklahoma
1 Wichita State def. 4 Saint Louis
2 Kansas def. 11 Oklahoma State
1 Florida def. 5 Louisville
2 Duke def. 3 Michigan State
5 Kentucky def. 1 Syracuse
7 SMU def. 11 Baylor
In the Sweet Sixteen, there figure to be several intriguing match ups. The East Region presents the most interesting upset possibilities as there could be some funky match ups in the Elite Eight as Kentucky matches up well against Syracuse with their physicality and SMU plays solid overall team basketball. A potential Duke-Michigan State match up would be a treat to watch as the two powers have matched up in the tournament in the past.
1 Arizona def. 3 Virginia
2 Kansas def. 1 Wichita State
1 Florida def. 2 Duke
7 SMU def. 5 Kentucky
Virgina could easily beat Arizona with their stout defense, but Arizona's overall talent could be enough to propel them to the Final Four. Kansas will take it personally that Wichita State is being called the best team in Kansas and they will find a way to win a game that figures to be very chippy. Florida and Duke would be extremely fun to watch, but Florida's senior leadership might be a bit too much. In a very strange match up, SMU can continue their dream season if they body up on Kentucky's larger offensive players in the post.
Kansas def. Arizona
Florida def. SMU
The star power on Kansas will be too much this March as Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid look to take home some hardware before making a beeline for the NBA. SMU's Cinderella season will come to an end against Florida who is clicking on all cylinders this season and has several seniors that are hungry for a championship in their final season.
Florida def. Kansas
Experience may be the difference in this projected national championship game. Where Kansas has the raw skill, Florida has the experience and desire and that could be enough to claim the title. The Gators are solid in all facets of the game and haven't struggled much this season. This has the makings of a legendary championship and Florida would come out on top by a small margin.
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