Jay Wright, Villanova

Matty Brackets gave his predictions. Now it’s time to pick the teams fielded in the 2022 NCAA Tournament. March is here!

How do you pick a bracket? The NCAA Tournament always fields upsets, regardless of what the experts say. But what if I told you there’s a way to make sure you win your bracket pool?

Unfortunately, there’s no secret code. This isn’t an infomercial where I can sell you a plan. But I can lay out my plan (which is probably just as good as yours). So proceed with caution.

West Region

First Round

1. Gonzaga vs 16. Georgia State

Gonzaga has the best frontcourt duo in the country and no 16-seed is matching up with that.

Winner: 1. Gonzaga

8. Boise State vs 9. Memphis

Memphis fought for this seed, winning 12 of their last 14 games. Bosie State is no slouch, put it’s hard to pick against a hot Penny Hardaway-coached team.

Winner: 9. Memphis

5. UConn vs 12. New Mexico State

I’ve tossed and turned over this one and I still don’t have an answer. On one hand, the Huskies are playing some of the best basketball in the country and can be a nightmare matchup. But the Aggies do match up well against Adama Sanogo with 6-foot-11, 277 pound Will McNair Jr. Teddy Allen is also a primetime player and arguably the best scorer on the floor. I can see UConn making the Sweet 16. But I can also see an upset.

Winner: 12. New Mexico State

4. Arkansas vs 13. Vermont

I’ve seen Vermont as a popular upset pick, but do you really want to pick against Eric Musselman in March? The Razorbacks head coach is built for a sustained run in this tournament. Arkansas is 40th in adjusted offense and 16th in adjusted defense. Those types of metrics usually don’t fail in the first round.

Winner: 4. Arkansas

6. Alabama vs 11. Notre Dame

The Crimson Tide played 16 games against teams in this year’s NCAA Tournament and went a solid 9-7 in such games including wins over Gonzaga, Baylor, Tennessee, and Houston. They’re a sleeper.

Winner: 6. Alabama

3. Texas Tech vs 14. Montana State

If there’s any crazy upset that passed my mind, it was Montana State over Texas Tech. The Bobcats average close to 80 points per game so scoring shouldn’t be the issue. But the three-point game isn’t strong enough to beat a team like the Red Raiders.

Winner: 3. Texas Tech

7. Michigan State vs 10. Davidson

This is your classic pick-em game. The Wildcats do just about everything right, but defensively are mid at best. The Spartans had a successful Big Ten Tournament and I like that to carry over.

Winner: 7. Michigan State

2. Duke vs 15. CSU Fullerton

The Coach K retirement tour isn’t about to end too early on. Like Gonzaga, the Paolo Banchero – Mark Williams combo down low isn’t what any mid-major team wants to see. And Duke can hit threes too. I smell a blowout coming.

Winner: 2. Duke

Second Round

1. Gonzaga vs 9. Memphis

If you like two athletic teams that will get up and run down the floor, this one’s for you. High-scoring basketball will be on display, but Gonzaga should be able to outlast the Tigers and stall a few runs.

Winner: 1. Gonzaga

12. New Mexico State vs 4. Arkansas

For the Huskies fans still reading, if you do get by New Mexico State, I think that’s a Sweet 16 appearance. But this game is all about matchups and Arkansas’ speed is too much for the Aggies to handle.

Winner: 4. Arkansas

6. Alabama vs 3. Texas Tech

Bama is 14th in adjusted offense. Texas Tech is first in adjusted defense. Usually, defense wins out, but Alabama has enough to counter it. They’re a tremendous rebounding team, especially on the offensive glass. Threes will need to fall though, or else the Crimson Tide will be in for a tough day.

Winner: 6. Alabama

7. Michigan State vs 2. Duke

The committee obviously put this (potential) matchup together on purpose. There’s no other reason other than a Tom Izzo vs Mike Krzyzewski battle for the ages. Michigan State has enough to hang with the Blue Devils – that’s for sure. But in the end, Duke’s offensive options are more vast and should be able to bring home this win into the Sweet 16.

Winner: 2. Duke

Sweet 16

1. Gonzaga vs 4. Arkansas

Talk about chalk, Arkansas can give Gonzaga loads of trouble. The Razorbacks make more free throws per game than any team in the country. If Drew Timme or Chet Holmgren get in foul trouble, the Bulldogs are in trouble. But Arkansas also turns the ball over at a high rate, and Gonzaga should capitalize.

Winner: 1. Gonzaga

6. Alabama vs 2. Duke

Alabama plays a lot of one-on-one ball, where Duke is 10th in the country in assists per game. So if the Blue Devils are making their shots, Bama’s offense will need to be on point. Duke also has as good ball security as anyone in the country, so Nate Oats’ pressure might not break down the Blue Devils.

Winner: 2. Duke

Elite 8

1. Gonzaga vs 2. Duke

It’s the re-match everyone wants out of this region and the cards show it happening. As great of a story it would be, Gonzaga’s title chase is on and their guards are more ready for this moment. Final Four on the line, I’ll take senior guards Andrew Nembhard and Rasir Bolton.

Winner: 1. Gonzaga

East Region

First Round

1. Baylor vs 16. Norfolk State

Joe Bryant can get a few points but Norfolk State averages 14 turnovers per game. Do you think that’s going to work against Baylor? Me neither.

Winner: 1. Baylor

8. North Carolina vs 9. Marquette

The Golden Eagles peaked too early in the season and the Heels are peaking at the right time. Sometimes momentum is more telling than any statistic can be.

Winner: 8. North Carolina

5. Saint Mary’s vs 12. Indiana

Ahh, the classic 5 v 12 matchup. I already picked one of them and why not another? Ever since the ‘First Four’ was implemented in 2011, 2019 was the only year one of those teams DIDN’T win at least another game. I like that trend to continue with the Hoosiers. Top 25 in blocks per game, Saint Mary’s struggles inside and isn’t the best three-point shooting team either.

Winner: 12 Indiana

4. UCLA vs 13. Akron

The post-Final Four slump didn’t last long for UCLA, who reeled together through some challenges and pulled in a four-seed. Akron is going to have trouble slowing down the Johnny Juzang led Bruins.

Winner: 4. UCLA

6. Texas vs 11. Virginia Tech

Keve Aluma and Justyn Mutts are a force-down low and Hunter Cattoor can hit shots for the Hokies. Texas is an awful rebounding team and doesn’t share the basketball. It’s tough to win that way against a Mike Young-coached team.

Winner: 11. Virginia Tech

3. Purdue vs 14. Yale

It seems like Purdue often doesn’t live up to NCAA Tournament expectations while Yale is a team to watch in March. But this Purdue team is much different from Boilermakers teams of the past. Trevion Williams and Zach Edey rotate to make sure they always have an excellent post-presence down low and the Ivy League champion won’t be able to contend with that.

Winner: 3. Purdue

7. Murray State vs 10. San Francisco

One name to remember is K.J. Williams. But don’t sleep on Tevin Brown, the engine that gets everything going in the backcourt. I like the Racers to beat San Francisco at the finish line.

Winner: 7. Murray State

2. Kentucky vs 15. Saint Peter’s

The only chance Saint Peter’s has is… there is none. Try telling the Peacocks they have to guard Oscar Tshiebwe. Another 20 point 20 rebound game is on the horizon.

Winner: 2. Kentucky

Second Round

1. Baylor vs 8. North Carolina

Without Big 12 DPOY Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua for the entire tournament, the Bears already have a tall task of repeating as NCAA Tournament champs. Three-point threat L.J. Cryer is also sidelined, which makes things that much more difficult. Pair that against a double-double machine in Armando Bacot and a North Carolina team with plenty of perimeter scorers and the Heels look primed to take down the first one-seed of the tourney.

Winner: 8. North Carolina

12. Indiana vs 4. UCLA

A lot of old heads are going to like this game if it happens, but really everyone should. Mike Woodson and Mick Cronin are two fiery coaches who get their teams to play hard. A classic is brewing. Myles Johnson can slow down TJD and the Bruins guards take care of the rest.

Winner: 4. UCLA

11. Virginia Tech vs 3. Purdue

Can the Hokies pull off another power conference upset and continue its hot streak? I say no – Purdue might be a streaky team but in the end, their ball movement and star power get it done.

Winner: 3. Purdue

7. Murray State vs 2. Kentucky

While K.J. Williams might be able to give Tshiebwe trouble down low, the Wildcats just have too many offensive options for the Racers to contend with.

Winner: 2. Kentucky

Sweet 16

8. North Carolina vs 4. UCLA

Another matchup between two legendary college basketball programs, North Carolina has all the tools to take down UCLA and move on to the Sweet 16. But the Bruins are one of four teams in the country in the top 15 in adjusted offense and defense.

Winner: 4. UCLA

3. Purdue vs 2. Kentucky

Kentucky struggles to knock down threes consistently at times and Purdue has what you need to keep Tshiebwe from taking over a game. It could set up another blue blood matchup in this region, but the Boilermakers spoil that.

Winner: 3. Purdue

Elite 8

4. UCLA vs 3. Purdue

It might not be chalk but it’s still a great team between two title contenders. UCLA has a solid paint presence but against Purdue, you need more than that. The road ends here for the Bruins’ quest for back-to-back Final Four appearances.

Winner: 3. Purdue

South Region

First Round

1. Arizona vs 16. Wright State

The Wildcats could give up a good chunk of points but don’t let it fool you. The Wildcats will also likely roll past them and could put up 100+ themselves.

Winner: 1. Arizona

8. Seton Hall vs 9. TCU

The Pirates and Horned Frogs are very similar teams, but TCU is one of the worst free-throw shooting teams in the country at under 70% as a team. It might be a defensive slugfest, but one team has to win in the end and I like the Hall.

Winner: 8. Seton Hall

5. Houston vs 12. UAB

It’s been a popular first-round upset pick and for good reason. Jordan Walker has the Blazers on fire and the Cougars are struggling after early-season injuries started to catch up with them. Still, Houston is the favorite and ranks very high in offensive and defensive efficiency. But the way Walker is playing, it’s hard to bet against UAB.

Winner: 12. UAB

4. Illinois vs 13. Chattanooga

If Illinois becomes one-dimensional by feeding Kofi Cockburn, they might get into trouble against the Mocs. The Illini will need its full arsenal on display to contend with Chattanooga’s big three. Malachi Smith, David Jean-Baptiste, and wait for it – Silvio De Sousa – are as strong as any team in the country, let alone mid-major.

Winner: 13 Chattanooga

6. Colorado State vs 11. Michigan

A lot of people are siding with the Wolverines as if David Roddy doesn’t exist. Sure, Hunter Dickinson is a matchup nightmare no matter who he faces, but don’t count out the Rams’ star. He just might carry this team on his back.

Winner: 6. Colorado State

3. Tennessee vs 14. Longwood

Longwood is another dangerous scoring team but is fairly young, which doesn’t quite lead you to expect big things against a veteran Tennessee team. It’s time for the Vols to make a deep run.

Winner: 3. Tennessee

7. Ohio State vs 10. Loyola Chicago

It’s one of the evenest games of the NCAA Tournament and my only deciding factor is Loyola-Chicago’s offensive slumps. E.J. Liddell doesn’t want to go home in the first round again, and he’ll make sure the Buckeyes advance.

Winner: 7. Ohio State

2. Villanova vs 15. Delaware

Some things don’t lead long explanations. This is one of them. It’s Jay Wright. It’s Collin Gillespie.

Winner: 2. Villanova

Second Round

1. Arizona vs 8. Seton Hall

The Pirates are a dangerous team because they can defend and also make tough shots. But Arizona makes the game easy and should be able to close out Kevin Willard. Will this be his last game as the Pirates’ coach?

Winner: 1. Arizona

12. UAB vs 13. Chattanooga

In a true Cinderella story matchup, one double-digit seed as a chance to move on to the Sweet 16. I prefer the Mocs’ size over a one-man show in Jordan Walker. Sure, other players on UAB can get into the action with their scoring, but the undersized Blazers need KJ Buffen to step up in the paint.

Winner: 13. Chattanooga

6. Colorado State vs 3. Tennessee

The Vols are coming into the tournament as one of the hottest teams in the country, winners of seven straight. I like that streak to continue to the second weekend.

Winner: 3. Tennessee

7. Ohio State vs 2. Villanova

The Buckeyes match up just dandy in the paint, but Collin Gillespie as a knack for taking over games and is superior to Ohio State’s backcourt.

Winner: 2. Villanova

Sweet 16

1. Arizona vs 13. Chattanooga

Sorry to Moc Nation, but making it this far was fun, right? Not gonna happen again versus Arizona.

Winner: 1. Arizona

3. Tennessee vs 2. Villanova

This is one of those games you just can’t wait to see happen. Both are playing their best basketball entering March Madness. However, I look at Villanova’s low turnover rate and ability to stay out of foul trouble. It’ll be close, but I favor the Cats.

Winner: 2. Villanova

Elite 8

1. Arizona vs 2. Villanova

In a battle between the Cats, Arizona and Villanova take center stage to try and move on to the Final Four. I love Arizona’s identity, but for a first-year head coach to take down Jay Wright seems nearly impossible.

Winner: 2. Villanova

Midwest Region

First Round

1. Kansas vs 16. Texas Southern

I really do like Texas Southern’s heart to get here year after year but the Jayhawks are built for success in this tournament. Losing to a 16-seed is out of the question.

Winner: 1. Kansas

8. San Diego State vs 9. Creighton

Creighton’s offense came into bloom once the calendar struck March and San Diego State’s offense stalls – 11.9 assists per game as a team. The Bluejays’ Big East Tournament success helps them carve out another postseason win.

Winner: 9. Creighton

5. Iowa vs 12. Richmond

Jacob Gilyard is an impact player as the nation’s all-time leader in steals. The margin isn’t even particularly close. However, Keegan Murray is a difference-maker too and Jordan Bohannon’s leadership pays dividends.

Winner: 5. Iowa

4. Providence vs 13. South Dakota State

Providence is the luckiest team in not only the NCAA Tournament but in college basketball according to KenPom. Meanwhile, the Jackrabbits average close to 87 points per game. Five of their top seven scorers all hit over 40% of their three-point attempts. That includes Charlies Easley and Alex Arians at both over 50% from deep. It’s gonna rain in Buffalo.

Winner: 13. South Dakota State

6. LSU vs 11. Iowa State

The Cyclones struggles for the second half of the season but picked up enough quality wins in the early portion to make the field. LSU’s duo down low in Tari Eason and Darius Days is lethal.

Winner: 6. LSU

3. Wisconsin vs 14. Colgate

The Raiders are becoming a staple in March but lack a bit of star power they had in the past. The Badgers do have a stud in Johnny Davis.

Winner: 3. Wisconsin

7. USC vs 10. Miami

I’m in love with Miami’s ability to score – four guys who can drop 20+ on any given night. That type of offense is hard to come by and it doesn’t even include Sam Waardenburg as the top perimeter threat.

Winner: 10. Miami

2. Auburn vs 15. Jacksonville State

Interesting tidbit – Jacksonville State is actually located in Alabama, along with Auburn. Anyways, War Eagle.

Winner: 2. Auburn

Second Round

1. Kansas vs 9. Creighton

Ochai Agbaji is ready to give Bill Self that championship in 2022. Creighton is difficult, but the Jayhawks are strong all across the board.

Winner: 1. Kansas

5. Iowa vs 13. South Dakota State

Can the Jackrabbits get three-happy and pull off another upset? I’m sure they could, but the Hawkeyes can also hit from deep and rank top 15 in adjusted efficiency margin. It might be a close one, but Keegan Murray and co. move on.

Winner: 5. Iowa

6. LSU vs 3. Wisconsin

Days and Eason still have the upper hand against the Badgers, but Brad Davison’s leadership can prove to be critical here.

Winner: 3. Wisconsin

10. Miami vs 2. Auburn

Want an upset? Take the Hurricanes. Auburn’s been playing iffy as of late and rely on a freshman to get it done Miami is loaded with upperclassmen and this game’s in Greeneville, SC, so the Canes crowd can rally in support.

Winner: 10. Miami

Sweet 16

1. Kansas vs 5. Iowa

Iowa matches up well with most teams but against Kansas, you really need to be perfect in every spot. The Jayhawks rebound a bit better and move the ball so well.

Winner: 1. Kansas

3. Wisconsin vs 10. Miami

I love Wisconsin’s draw. It’s another reason why the NCAA Tournament is all about matchups. The Badgers can stop Miami’s offense and create a little bit of their own.

Winner: 3. Wisconsin

Elite 8

1. Kansas vs 3. Wisconsin

Riding momentum, I like the Badgers’ chances in this one. Agbaji vs Davis would be something special to watch, but I tend to side with Davison’s leadership here. Remy Martin can also get it done and if there’s an Elite 8 game that could go to an overtime or two, it’s this one.

Winner: 3 Wisconsin

Final 4

1. Gonzaga vs 3. Purdue

Can the Boilermakers get one more? Sure, but the Zags are on a mission to avenge last year’s tough loss. Chet Holmgren and Drew Timme make life difficult, even for the frontcourt Purdue puts on the floor.

Winner: 1. Gonzaga

2. Villanova vs 3. Wisconsin

Jay Wright has been here before and so has his fifth-year senior Collin Gillespie. Davison also has loads of experience, but NCAA Tournament experience is a different animal.

Winner: 2. Villanova


1. Gonzaga vs 2. Villanova

Somehow, with how great these two programs have been as of late, we’ve never been treated to a national championship game between the two. With that being said, the Zags got dudes, but Nova has the dudes to stop them. Both teams are exceptional at controlling the pace of games but the Wildcats adapt a bit better. They’re your champions.

Winner: 2. Villanova

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