March Madness 2015 Predictions: Midwest Region- Tuesday, March 17th
Round of 64 picks(1) Kentucky over (16) Hampton
A No. 16 seed has never upset a No. 1 seed. The chances of Kentucky being the first-ever No. 1 seed to fall to a No. 16 seed are slimmer than my chances of getting a kiss from Ashley Judd. So, you're telling me there's a chance?
(9) Purdue over (8) Cincinnati
This should be a close and low-scoring game. With two of Thursday's 16 matchups yet to be determined, this game has the lowest over-under among the 14 tournament games with lines. Although Purdue is the lower seed, they are favored to win and I think they squeak out a win here.
(12) Buffalo over (5) West Virginia
The 12-over-5 upset has become so common these days, that it doesn't really feel like an upset when it happens. Bobby Hurley's Bulls, who are making their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament, are the smallest underdog (-4.5) among the four No. 12 seeds in this tournament, based on odds from Sportsbook.ag. Although it will be difficult against "Press Virginia," Buffalo takes some positive momentum -- an eight-game winning streak -- with them into this game.
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(4) Maryland over (13) Valparaiso
Valpo has won a school-record 28 games and I think they will keep this game close, but Melo Trimble and the Terps will be a little too much for the Crusaders.
(11) Texas over (6) Butler
The seeding would suggest that this is an upset, but Vegas has favored Texas by 1.5 points in this matchup. Although they have been inconsistent and have disappointed compared to expectations, the Longhorns rank eighth in the nation in rebounding and first in blocked shots.
(3) Notre Dame over (14) Northeastern
It will be difficult for Northeastern to keep up with (and slow down) the Irish offense. One of the best offensive teams in the country, Notre Dame ranks second behind only Wisconsin in adjusted offensive efficiency (via kenpom.com).
(7) Wichita State over (10) Indiana
One of seven teams ranked inside top-20 in adusted offensive and defensive efficiency, the Shockers are the lowest seed of that group with Kentucky being the only other team in this bracket to have that distinction.
(2) Kansas over (15) New Mexico State
No team has faced a tougher strength of schedule than Kansas, who won 14 of 20 games against top-50 teams in BPI.
Round of 32 picks(1) Kentucky over (9) Purdue
Purdue's reward for winning their 8-9 matchup is Kentucky in their second game. Congrats! In my 2015 NBA Mock Draft, there are four Kentucky players among the top-17 prospects and a total of five in the first round. Perhaps more amazing than Kentucky's talent level is their unselfish play.
(4) Maryland over (12) Buffalo
I flip-flopped a few times with this matchup, but I think Maryland gets the win here. The Bulls have played only two ranked opponents -- Kentucky and Wisconsin -- and lost both games. Meanwhile, the Terrapins had an impressive win over the Badgers last month.
(3) Notre Dame over (11) Texas
Son of ex-NBA player Harvey Grant and younger brother of Sixer Jerami Grant, Notre Dame senior point guard Jerian Grant is one of the nation's best players. Named the ACC Tournament MVP and finishing second behind Duke's Jahlil Okafor as ACC Player of the Year, Grant leads Notre Dame in scoring (16.5 PPG) and the ACC in assists (6.5/G). I like Grant and the Irish to hold off the talented but inconsistent Longhorns.
(7) Wichita State over (2) Kansas
Teams with strong guard play can really make a run in the tournament and the Shockers, an underseeded No. 7 seed, definitely have strong guard play led by Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker. While he hasn't played since Feb. 23rd and his expected one-and-done season hasn't gone as well as expected, Cliff Alexander, a top-five recruit, isn't expected to be cleared to play in the tournament and it's one more reason that I like the Shockers to pull off the upset here.
Sweet Sixteen(1) Kentucky over (4) Maryland
The Terps have strong guard play, but they can't match up with Kentucky's talented and deep front court full of McDonald's All-Americans. (Then again, who can?)
(3) Notre Dame over (7) Wichita State
Notre Dame has won just two of their previous eight tournament games with wins against only Akron (2011) and George Mason (2008) since 2004. And five of those six losses were against lower-seeded (i.e., worse) teams. So, in other words, a win in the Sweet Sixteen would give them more wins in this year's tournament than they had in the previous decade.
Elite Eight(1) Kentucky over (3) Notre Dame
Entering the tournament with a 5-0 record in March, Notre Dame has wins against Louisville, Duke and North Carolina on the road or a neutral site. As noted earlier, the Fighting Irish are one of the best offensive teams in the country. That said, Kentucky is as good as any other team on the defensive end and I like them to get to the Final Four. Will they cut down the Midwest Region nets?
-> 2015 March Madness Final Four Predictions
-> Other brackets: South Region - East Region - West Region
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