March Madness 2015: Analysis and Predictions

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March Madness 2015: Analysis and Predictions

The Final Four will take place in Indianapolis this year, which will cap off what should be an exciting couple weeks of basketball

The Final Four will take place in Indianapolis this year, which will cap off what should be an exciting couple weeks of basketball

TNS

The Final Four will take place in Indianapolis this year, which will cap off what should be an exciting couple weeks of basketball

TNS

TNS

The Final Four will take place in Indianapolis this year, which will cap off what should be an exciting couple weeks of basketball

Kyle Laska and Tyler Skinner, News Editor and Staff Writer

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With the coming of the NCAA Tournament comes man’s best friend: The bracket. In order to help alleviate the troubles and stress that come with filling out a bracket, analysis and predictions for each first round game have been provided. The tournament is always unpredictable and there’s no telling who will win, but that doesn’t mean it’s worthless to try. This article begins with reasons why each team could win, followed by predictions for who will win each game, and ending with predictions on things like best player in the first round and the biggest sleeper. Good luck with your brackets.

MIDWEST BRACKET

#1 Kentucky vs #16 Manhattan/Hampton

Why Kentucky could win: They haven’t lost all season and are far and away the best team in their region, if not all of D1 basketball. They can sleep easy knowing that they have a better player than their opponent at every single position.

Why Manhattan/Hampton could win: Anything can happen. Its the NCAA Tournament, and after all, both of these teams won their conference tournaments, so they are coming into the game feeling good.

#8 Cincinnati vs #9 Purdue

Why Cincinnati could win: They play elite defense, only letting teams score 55.3 points per game against them this year. They swept the best team in their conference, SMU, this year in their two meetings.

Why Purdue could win: 7-foot center A.J. Hammons has a two-inch height advantage over the two tallest Bearcats. A tough Big 10 schedule will have this team tournament-ready against Cincinnati, in a weaker conference.

#5 West Virginia vs #12 Buffalo

Why West Virginia could win: Playing in the best conference in college basketball has them used to playing higher quality opponents than Buffalo. Although they have seven losses against ranked teams, West Virginia is a great defensive and rebounding team, which is death to teams that are less than the best at shooting.

Why Buffalo could win: Buffalo plays the game at a high speed, and is able to put up points in a hurry. If they are knocking down their shots, then the Mountaineers can get all the offensive rebounds they want, it just won’t make a big enough difference.

#4 Maryland vs #13 Valparaiso

Why Maryland could win: A top team for most of the season, Maryland gets a chance to prove what they have been doing against inferior opponents hasn’t been a fluke. Senior Dez Wells has suffered through some of his team’s not living up to the hype, but this season, the Terps have overachieved, and he will want to lead this team out on top.

Why Valparaiso could win: They have made the tournament as recent as two years ago when they were a 13-seed, but lost to Michigan State. They are older and wiser, and better. Earlier this year, they beat Murray State (almost made the tournament) by 35 points; if they bring that to the tournament, there is a very real chance they could upset Maryland.

#6 Butler vs #11 Texas

Why Butler could win: A team with a reputation for playing big come March, Butler has a different coach now, but still the same fighting spirit. They showed that in conference play by being the number two overall team in the league. Defense and rebounding are this team’s strong suit, and that is dangerous in the NCAA Tournament.

Why Texas could win: If there is a team that can defuse good defense, then Texas is that team. With NBA prospect Myles Turner, a force on the inside, that opens up the court for the whole Longhorns offense. If they work through the inside and then pass out to the open shooter, Texas will prove why they deserved to be in the tournament even though they posted an 8-10 record in conference play.

Notre Dame will bring their elite offense against Northeastern

Notre Dame will bring their elite offense into their matchup with Northeastern

#3 Notre Dame vs #14 Northeastern

Why Notre Dame could win: They became just the third out-of-state team in ACC history to beat both Duke and UNC in the ACC Tournament, and first since 1993. With just five losses on the season, the Irish took care of business against bad teams this year, and this is not expected to be much different.

Why Northeastern could win: Although it is an extreme longshot, Northeastern did win at Richmond (they were a bubble team) and won big in their championship game for their conference tournament.

#7 Wichita State vs #10 Indiana

Why Wichita State could win: Their BPI (Basketball Power Index) ranking showing them as #13 overall in the nation, and they will play with a chip on their shoulder after seeing their 7-seed on Selection Sunday.

Why Indiana could win: The Big Ten was highly competitive all year long, which is why the Hoosiers were just 9-9 in conference. If they can beat the Shockers, then that would validate them making this bracket, and veteran coach Tom Crean should have his players going all out.

#2 Kansas vs #15 New Mexico State

Why Kansas could win: They were in the conversation for a 1-seed, but ended up losing in the Big-12 Championship to Iowa State. Senior Perry Ellis has been dominating inside the paint, and will continue to do so against a lesser opponent.

Why New Mexico State could win: Kansas’s star freshman, Cliff Alexander has been suspended for the Big 12 tournament and will likely continue to be ineligible into the NCAA Tournament. If New Mexico State can get Ellis in foul trouble, it could leave the Jayhawks thin in the frontcourt and open for some easy baskets.

WEST BRACKET

#1 Wisconsin vs #16 Coastal Carolina

Why Wisconsin could win: Led by arguably the most dominant player in the country, senior Frank “The Tank” Kaminsky, the Badgers had a furious comeback to win the Big Ten Tournament on Selection Sunday. If they bring half of that effort to this game, they should be okay.

Why Coastal Carolina could win: They have outscored opponents by 10 points per game this year, and only lost by three points to Ole Miss. Both of those prove that they can stay competitive, and if they can stay in the game, then maybe they can cause some havoc and create the biggest upset in the history of March Madness.

#8 Oregon vs #9 Oklahoma St

Why Oregon could win: A sweep of Utah this year proves that Oregon is not just a football school; they pack a punch, and even have Pac-12 player of the year, Joseph Young, to represent them.

Why Oklahoma State could win: Nobody on Oregon is over 6’7’’ or heavier than 206 lbs. The Cowboys will be able to go right at the “big men” of Oregon and dominate the inside. If they do that, then they can gear up for a matchup against Wisconsin.

#5 Arkansas vs #12 Wofford

Why Arkansas could win: Bobby Portis leads this team, which has been ranked most of the season, and when he gets going, this team is hard to stop. Especially facing a mid-major school, a power force on the inside could end this game before it starts.

Why Wofford could win: They only lost twice since the conference season started, and they have built a winning atmosphere in their locker room. The Terriers do not turn the ball over, and that is a recipe for success in the tournament.

#4 North Carolina vs #13 Harvard

Why North Carolina could win: This team is getting hot at the right time and ran through the ACC Tournament before losing to Notre Dame in a close game. With a great point guard (Marcus Paige) and two good big men (Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson), this team will be tough to beat throughout the tournament.

Why Harvard could win: They have done it two years in a row. If they again catch fire from the three-point line, they could keep the streak going.

#6 Xavier vs #11 BYU/Ole Miss

Why Xavier could win: This tournament is all about getting hot at the right time, and the X-Men could be doing just that. They took fellow 6-seed Butler down in the Big East Tournament, and then the next day, downed 4-seeded Georgetown.

Why BYU could win: The eye test has been very kind to BYU, and without it, they may not have gotten into the tournament. Basketball fans all across the country have been watching the Cougars all season and seeing their potential, that broke through when they won at Gonzaga (2-seed) in their last game of the season. If they can play like that here, then they will be able to move on for sure.

Why Ole Miss could win: Somewhat of a surprise to make the tournament, they fell late in the season, losing four of their last five games in a weak SEC. If they can get back to where they were earlier in the season when they took Kentucky (1-seed) to overtime in Kentucky, won at Oregon (8-seed), and beat Cincinnati (8-seed) on a neutral court, then the Rebels will be looking into the third round.

#3 Baylor vs #14 Georgia State

Why Baylor could win: They are the definition of battle-tested after facing the third-hardest schedule in all the NCAA, and still only losing nine times on the season. Over the course of the season, the Bears have taken care of every mid-major team they played, and this is not expected to be different if they just be themselves.

Why Georgia State could win: Last time they were in the tournament (2001), Georgia State beat Wisconsin. Also, playing in Jacksonville is relatively close compared to Baylor coming across the country. With only one loss at home all year, maybe the Panthers can make themselves at home in Jacksonville.

VCU's fast pace of play and smothering press might not be enough to stop Ohio St.

VCU’s fast pace of play and smothering press might not be enough to stop Ohio St.

#7 VCU vs #10 Ohio State

Why VCU could win: They have been electric in the tournament in past years (although they were knocked out last year in an upset), and are poised for success after winning the A-10 Tournament. They will play defense at a high level and try to force turnovers to pass through Ohio State.

Why Ohio State could win: They have a future NBA lottery pick in point guard D’Angelo Russell. He is the perfect person to stop VCU because he won’t turn the ball over, and he can score around their stifling defense.

#2 Arizona vs #15 Texas Southern

Why Arizona could win: They were in the conversation for a number-1 seed, and are one of the best teams in the country. They have a big-time point guard and a very big center, and both are a huge advantage against any team, let alone a low-major.

Why Texas Southern could win: They beat Michigan State and Kansas State on the road earlier this year, so they have proven they can beat a high-major team. The team is senior-led, so they will be hungry for the win of a lifetime.

EAST BRACKET

#1 Villanova vs #16 Lafayette

Why Villanova can win: Villanova’s season was filled with playing teams that they should’ve beaten, and they beat them. They have a great coach and a roster full of capable players who can play well together.  This is a team they should beat, and Villanova has had no problem against sleepers to this point.

Why Lafayette can win: Senior F Dan Trist is a good scorer and a leader. He will have to step up and play one of the best games of his life, not just with his play but with his leadership. The Leopards also have the eighth-best field goal percentage in the nation, and it is always an advantage when you can make your shots.

#8 NC State vs #9 LSU

Why NC State can win: Duke, Louisville, and UNC all fell victim to the Wolfpack this year. NC State also took Notre Dame to overtime, and lost to Virginia by just 4. This team can really play, and they’ve got the rap sheet to prove it.

Why LSU can win: LSU might have one of the best sophomore duos in the nation in Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin. Both averaging over 15 points and 9 boards a game, they can easily break down opponents and take over games.

Northern Iowa looks to continue their winning streak coming in off of a MVC title

Northern Iowa looks to continue their winning streak coming in off of a MVC title

#5 Northern Iowa vs #12 Wyoming

Why Northern Iowa can win: After going 30-3 and winning their conference tournament, the Panthers have reason to be upset with a #5 seed. Senior Seth Tuttle leads this team in points, rebounds, and assists, per game. Expect him to take on a large role going into the tournament.

Why Wyoming can win: The Cowboys have their own version of Tuttle in Larry Nance Jr. Nance can change a game in many aspects and that should help open the game up for his teammates who will have to play above their normal level of play.

#4 Louisville vs #13 UC-Irvine

Why Louisville can win: It’s unwise to bet against Rick Pitino, as he can coach with the best of them. Also, there’s not a player in the nation that can match Montrezl Harrell’s toughness and grit. A great coach, a grinder, and a roster of talented shooters makes this team scary.

Why UC-Irvine can win: After stringing together a series of wins to win the Big West, the Anteaters are hoping to ride the momentum through the tourney. Will Davis is a capable leader and scorer, and his leadership will need to be felt.

#6 Providence vs #11 Boise/Dayton

Why Providence can win: 6’6” senior F LaDontae Henton will be one of the most influential players in the tournament. If he plays well, Providence will be tough to stop. If he doesn’t, a first-round exit is a strong possibility.

Why Boise/Dayton can win: Derrick Marks can score with the best of them, and his presence will be felt all game for the Broncos. Dayton has the biggest advantage in the tournament: They are playing in Dayton, on their home court against Boise St. in the first round. If they win, they go to nearby Columbus, for their next game. They’ll have plenty of Flyers fans at their games.

#3 Oklahoma vs #14 Albany

Why Oklahoma can win: Oklahoma is an above-average rebounding team. Rebounding in the NCAA Tournament is huge as they can control both clock and the pace of the game. If they are able to control both these factors, Oklahoma is a very difficult team to stop.

Why Albany can win: A 15-1 conference record is no joke, and after starting 2-6 overall, the Great Danes finished 24-8. March is when hot teams pull off upsets, and this is a hot team.

#7 Michigan St vs #10 Georgia

Why Michigan St. can win: The Spartans never quite got things going this year, going 2-6 in games against top-25 teams. However, they played close games and they played well, for the most part. Denzel Valentine is a gamer and he always comes ready to take over a game. It also doesn’t hurt to have Tom Izzo on the sideline and an elite scorer in Travis Trice.

Why Georgia can win: Senior Marcus Thornton is averaging 12 points and 7 rebounds a game. While these aren’t too flashy, he helps to control the game for the Bulldogs. With the help of Nemanja Djurisic, the Bulldogs rebound with the best of them. Size is an advantage, and the ‘Dawgs have an advantage.


#2 Virginia vs #15 Belmont

Why Virginia can win: The Cavaliers started out 19-0, and after a close loss to Duke, they rebounded by going on a nine-game win streak. The Cavs play phenomenal defense and they play an organized style of basketball. When Justin Anderson is healthy, the Cavaliers are a top team.

Why Belmont can win: Belmont just squeaked into the tournament, and they are lucky to be playing. When you’ve got luck on your side, anything can happen.


SOUTH BRACKET

#1 Duke vs #16 UNF/RMOR

Why Duke can win: Coach K is the best coach in the nation and he will undoubtedly have his team ready to go. C Jahlil Okafor is one of the most dominant players in all of college basketball, and is an absolute nightmare for opposing teams. When you add in role players, it becomes too much for opposing teams.

Why UNF/RMOR can win: North Florida is a top-25 scoring team in the nation, and they are currently riding an eight-game winning streak coming into the tournament. Robert Morris has won its last six en route to taking their conference title. Both teams come in hot, and that certainly doesn’t hurt.

#8 San Diego St. vs #9 St. John’s

Why San Diego St. can win: San Diego St. didn’t win their conference tournament, but they did what they do best: play defense. The Aztecs allow the second-fewest points per game in the nation and even in their loss to Wyoming for the conference title, they only allowed 45 points. Points are hard to come by against this team, and defense wins games.

Why St. John’s can win: Senior G D’Angelo Harrison is a scorer and he will take on a larger role in getting points up against a stingy Aztecs defense. With teammate Rysheed Jordan also scoring and assisting well, the Red Storm have the weapons to put up more than enough points.


#5 Utah vs #12 SF Austin

Why Utah can win: The Utes don’t let their opponents score much, holding opponents to about 56 points a game. They rebound and block shots well, and they play good team defense. Offensively, senior G Delon Wright can do it all, averaging 15 points, 5 boards, and 5 assists a game.

Why SF Austin can win: A couple of numbers to know about SF Austin: 9, 5, 1. They rank 9th in points per game in the nation, 5th in field goal percentage, and first in assists per game. This is a scary offense, and in a popular 12-5 upset pick, this could be the pick.

Georgetown has the talent, but they've got a matchup with a sleeper in Eastern Washington

Georgetown has the talent, but they’ve got a matchup with a sleeper in Eastern Washington

#4 Georgetown vs #13 Eastern Washington

Why Georgetown can win: Georgetown played good teams all year, and they held their own. They beat Villanova and Butler, and they almost beat Wisconsin. They’ve got a man down low with the 6’10”, 350 lb. Joshua Smith. They’ve also got a guard in D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, who is an absolute playmaker.

Why Eastern Washington can win: Sleepers win in March because they have playmakers who step up and carry them. Eastern Washington’s Tyler Harvey does just that. Averaging 23 points a game, paired up with Venky Jois, who averages 16 points and 7 boards, means it’s time to pay attention to the Eagles.

#6 SMU vs #11 UCLA

Why SMU can win: After starting 2-3, the Mustangs finished the season 25-3. Former NBA coach Larry Brown has his team in a great spot and has them winning. Junior G Nic Moore looks to lead the team and keep them on their hot streak.

Why UCLA can win: A team that, in our opinion, shouldn’t be anywhere near the tournament, the Bruins were given a shot. Fortunately for them, that’s all you can ask for in March. Coach’s son Bryce Alford is a good player, and UCLA does have talent. It’s time to see if they can finally get it together.

#3 Iowa St. vs #14 UAB

Why Iowa St. can win: Coming out of an elite conference as the champions is no joke. Iowa St. is led by Georges Niang, who is one of the better all-around guards in the nation. After beating teams like West Virginia, Kansas, and Oklahoma, among many others, the Cyclones deserve a ton of respect in the tournament.

Why UAB can win: UAB came out of nowhere to win the Conference USA auto-bid. Junior G Robert Brown will have to be better than he’s ever been because this game falls on if he can score. They shocked the world to win their conference, why not shock the Cyclones?


#7 Iowa vs #10 Davidson

Why Iowa can win: Senior F Aaron White is a leader, and that’s important for a team to have. He puts up about 16 points a game, and he adds 7.5 boards a game, too. Junior transfer Jarrod Uthoff has been fantastic adjusting to his new team, averaging 12 points a game. Iowa has been good all year long, and that won’t change in March.

Why Davidson can win: Davidson puts up 80 points a game, along with 17 assists a game (6th and 3rd in the nation, respectively). Senior G Tyler Kalinoski is a big reason why. He will have to channel his inner superstar to take out Iowa because he will need to go above and beyond against an above-average Iowa defense.


#2 Gonzaga vs #15 North Dakota St.

Why Gonzaga can win: Losing 2 games all year by 3 points each, both against tournament teams, is a solid argument for a 1-seed. Kyle Wiltjer and Kevin Pangos are a great duo to have, and Gonzaga leads the nation in field-goal percentage.They’re also 10th in points per game, 6th in assists per game, 30th in offensive rebounding per game, and 2nd in defensive rebounding per game. That seems like enough reasons to pick them.

Why North Dakota St. can win: Senior G Lawrence Alexander averages 19 points a game. This is particularly impressive considering just how bad the Bison are on offense. This might be a stretch, but maybe Alexander goes for 75 points and the Bison can upset.

MIDWEST

 

#1 Kentucky vs #16 Manhattan/Hampton

Kyle’s Winner: Kentucky

Tyler’s Winner: Kentucky

 

#8 Cincinnati vs #9 Purdue

Kyle’s Winner: Purdue

Tyler’s Winner: Cincinnati

 

#5 West Virginia vs #12 Buffalo

Kyle’s Winner: West Virginia

Tyler’s Winner: West Virginia

 

#4 Maryland vs #13 Valparaiso

Kyle’s Winner: Maryland

Tyler’s Winner: Valparaiso

 

#6 Butler vs #11 Texas

Kyle’s Winner: Texas

Tyler’s Winner: Texas

 

#3 Notre Dame vs #14 Northeastern

Kyle’s Winner: Notre Dame

Tyler’s Winner: Notre Dame

 

#7 Wichita State vs #10 Indiana

Kyle’s Winner: Wichita State

Tyler’s Winner: Wichita State

 

#2 Kansas vs #15 New Mexico State

Kyle’s Winner: Kansas

Tyler’s Winner: Kansas

WEST

 

#1 Wisconsin vs #16 Coastal Carolina

Kyle’s Winner: Wisconsin

Tyler’s Winner: Wisconsin

 

#8 Oregon vs #9 Oklahoma St

Kyle’s Winner: Oregon

Tyler’s Winner: Oklahoma State

 

#5 Arkansas vs #12 Wofford

Kyle’s Winner: Arkansas

Tyler’s Winner: Arkansas

 

#4 North Carolina vs #13 Harvard

Kyle’s Winner: North Carolina

Tyler’s Winner: North Carolina

 

#6 Xavier vs #11 BYU/Ole Miss

Kyle’s Winner: BYU

Tyler’s Winner:Xavier

 

#3 Baylor vs #14 Georgia State

Kyle’s Winner: Baylor

Tyler’s Winner: Baylor

 

#7 VCU vs #10 Ohio State

Kyle’s Winner: Ohio State

Tyler’s Winner: Ohio State

 

#2 Arizona vs #15 Texas Southern

Kyle’s Winner: Arizona

Tyler’s Winner: Arizona

 

EAST

 

#1 Villanova vs #16 Lafayette

Kyle’s Winner: Villanova

Tyler’s Winner: Villanova

 

#8 NC State vs #9 LSU

Kyle’s Winner: NC State

Tyler’s Winner: LSU

 

#5 Northern Iowa vs #12 Wyoming

Kyle’s Winner: Northern Iowa

Tyler’s Winner: Northern Iowa

#4 Louisville vs #13 UC-Irvine

Kyle’s Winner: Louisville

Tyler’s Winner: Louisville

 

#6 Providence vs #11 Boise/Dayton

Kyle’s Winner: Providence

Tyler’s Winner: Dayton

 

#3 Oklahoma vs #14 Albany

Kyle’s Winner: Oklahoma

Tyler’s Winner: Oklahoma

 

#7 Michigan St vs #10 Georgia

Kyle’s Winner: Michigan State

Tyler’s Winner: Michigan State

 

#2 Virginia vs #15 Belmont

Kyle’s Winner: Virginia

Tyler’s Winner: Virginia

 

SOUTH

 

#1 Duke vs #16 UNF/RMOR

Kyle’s Winner: Duke

Tyler’s Winner: Duke

 

#8 San Diego St. vs #9 St. John’s

Kyle’s Winner: San Diego State

Tyler’s Winner: San Diego State

 

#5 Utah vs #12 SF Austin

Kyle’s Winner: Stephen F. Austin

Tyler’s Winner: Stephen F. Austin

 

#4 Georgetown vs #13 Eastern Washington

Kyle’s Winner: Georgetown

Tyler’s Winner: Georgetown

 

#6 SMU vs #11 UCLA

Kyle’s Winner: SMU

Tyler’s Winner: SMU

 

#3 Iowa St. vs #14 UAB

Kyle’s Winner: Iowa State

Tyler’s Winner: Iowa State

 

#7 Iowa vs #10 Davidson

Kyle’s Winner: Iowa

Tyler’s Winner: Davidson

 

#2 Gonzaga vs #15 North Dakota St.

Kyle’s Winner: Gonzaga

Tyler’s Winner: Gonzaga

 

Kyle

3 Players to Watch for:

  1. Jerian Grant (Notre Dame) – A true playmaker, he’s one of the best scorers in the tournament. Grant is an absolute beast who can have a huge impact on any game.
  2. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (Georgetown) – He single-handedly takes over games and scores at will. Georgetown will go as far as he does.
  3. Joseph Young (Oregon) – A big-game type of player, Young can dominate at any moment. Look for him to rack up points and carry the Ducks.

 

First-Round MVP: Denzel Valentine (Michigan State) – Watching a player with the size and  athleticism of Valentine is scary for opponents. He shoots well from beyond the arc and can battle in the post with almost anyone. Valentine and the Spartans have a tough match against Georgia, but that’s where Valentine excels.

Valentine's size and athleticism make him a difficult matchup for anyone guarding him

Valentine’s talent makes him a difficult matchup for anyone guarding him

 

Most-Influential Coach (1st Round): Larry Brown (SMU) – One of basketball’s greatest teachers, the former NBA Coach of the Year has turned SMU into a respected basketball team. If anyone is going to influence a game, look for it to be Brown, as he has influenced every aspect of building SMU into what it is right now. Plus, he’s a great play caller, which doesn’t hurt.

 

Biggest Sleeper: Even though I have them losing, Eastern Washington deserves some recognition. I can’t see them beating Georgetown, but I know deep down that they can. Tyler Harvey could easily be mentioned in the players to watch as he’s putting up almost 23 points a game. When you’ve got that type of player, you can’t be counted out. (i.e. Kemba Walker, Stephen Curry)

 

Best team to lose: Utah. It sucks for Utah that they drew Stephen F. Austin in the first round. The Utes are still the favorite and can easily win this game, but SFA just scores too well and they have that underdog quality you look for in a team. The Utes started out strong but cooled off down the stretch, and that’s never good in March.

 

Tyler

3 Players to Watch for:

  1. D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State) – Ohio State can go as far as he can carry them. When he is on his game, OSU won’t lose, and there is a very real chance that he can take them to the Sweet 16.
  2. Seth Tuttle (Northern Iowa) – He has helped put a small school from Iowa on the map, and now they are all the way up to a 5-seed. They have a great chance to be in the Sweet 16, and maybe even stage an upset into the Elite 8.
  3. Bobby Portis (Arkansas) – He is a matchup nightmare because he can dominate the paint, but also step out and hit jumpers. On the defensive end, when he is on, he can take out the opponent’s best forward.

 

First-Round MVP: Fred VanVleet (Wichita State) – This matchup against Indiana is going to be good, and if it goes down to the end, then expect to see VanVleet take over and will his team to victory.

 

Most-Influential Coach (1st Round): Rick Barnes (Texas) – This team was a preseason favorite, but it is still a successful season if they win in the tournament. A first-round upset of Butler would put them in position to have a “good season.”

Rick Barnes' coaching will have as much of an impact on the game as anyone else

Rick Barnes’ coaching will have as much of an impact on the game as anyone else

 

Biggest Sleeper: Valparaiso – They have made the tournament a couple times in recent years, but never pulled off the upset. This year they are matched up against Maryland, who could be worn down from their Big Ten schedule.

 

Best team to lose: VCU – Poised to be a sleeper in the tournament, they just got a terrible placement, matched up against 10-seeded Ohio State, who has everything that VCU can lose to. In most other matchups in the tournament, VCU would be loved, but not against talented freshman D’Angelo Russell and company.

 

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