SBD’s Expert Brackets: No Consensus, No Problem?

Much like opinions and a**holes, everyone has an NCAA Tournament bracket. That doesn’t mean you should show yours off. However, our writers have decided to forgo common decency and let you see their picks for this year’s March Madness. Why would they allow such an intimate, personal detail to go public? So you don’t make the same picks in SBD’s Million Dollar Bracket Madness contest. (No, we’re not actually eligible to win.)

Below are the brackets of our resident geniuses as well as a quick rationalization for why they chose a team that will be eliminated by Friday. You can almost definitely do better than them, so laugh at their picks for a minute then go fill out your own!

Eric’s Picks

Ah yes, a Final Four featuring two ones, a two and a three! Call me Bull’s-Eye BBQ sauce, because I am a bold original. Of all the teams I have advancing to Glendale, I’d have to say I’m most confident in the Wildcats. No, not that one, the other one.

I’m sure leaving Grayson Allen and the Blue Devils out of the Sweet 16 will result in screaming and kicking from Duke fans. Really, I’m just trying to get a leg up on my fellow competitors. I think it’s very likely a three-ball raining team like Marquette could trip Duke up. And if I’m being honest, seeing Duke go on to win the tournament would be a real errant foot to the penis.

In terms of upsets, I’m getting back on the Dunk City train again. The Seminoles don’t feel long for this tournament anyways: they were 7-8 in games played away from home and even though they play down the road in Orlando, you’d have to imagine the crowd will be pulling for the much more entertaining underdog.

It also seems like an Ivy League school could shock for the second straight year. Notre Dame has made a run to the Elite Eight in each of the past two years, and sustaining that success for another would be very unlike the Fighting Irish I’ve grown up with. Also shame on the committee for not putting their first game on St. Patty’s Day. Not because of the Irish connection, but because there’s no way Princeton students would allow themselves two consecutive days of partying when they win.

I really wanted to believe in Gonzaga this year, I really did. But just because Charlie Brown really wants to kick that football, it doesn’t mean Lucy will stop being a b****.

Speaking of wants, I legitimately wanted to pick Kansas to win the whole thing, but apparently I screwed that up. I wonder how long it will take until Bill Self and company make me glad that I checked the wrong box? Let’s set the over/under at halftime of the Iowa State game.

Sascha’s Picks

Disclaimer: I’m a lifelong Gonzaga fan. I can’t not pick them. If they win and I pick someone else, I would never forgive myself. That said, if my son’s life was at stake, I would probably end up picking Duke. That’s not to say the Zags don’t have a shot at downing the Blue Devils if they meet in the Final Four. There are legitimate reasons to like Gonzaga in a head-to-head matchup. To start with, the Zags have a really good point guard in Nigel Williams-Goss. Having any point guard means advantage Gonzaga. And we all know how clutch guard play can turn the tables in March.

Duke is heating up at the right time, though. They were the pre-season number one for one simple reason: they have more talent on their roster than any team in the nation. They don’t have the perfect assembly of personnel – see point guard dig, above – but Grayson Allen and Frank Jackson have shown they can run the point well enough lately. This team is battle-tested and has more top-50 wins than any other in the country, including a bunch at neutral sites. That home loss to NC State seems like a lifetime ago.

Give me the Tar Heels to come out of the South. If Joel Berry doesn’t get into foul trouble, they beat Duke in the ACC tournament. They also have a really easy run to the Elite Eight (comparatively). I’m picking Kentucky to get bounced by drastically underrated Wichita State, but one of the reasons I can’t roll with UCLA to get to the Final Four is a potential rematch with UK. Bam Adebayo has come a long way since the first meeting. He won’t get outplayed by TJ Leaf again, and I see John Calipari out-coaching Steve Alford if they meet again.

Apart from a potential Sweet 16 matchup with Iowa State, a team that won at Allen Fieldhouse this year, Kansas has a decent route to the Final Four. Their lack of size won’t be as big a problem against Oregon now that Chris Boucher is out for the year. If they meet Louisville in the Elite Eight, their perimeter defense will expose the Cardinals’ offensive limitations.

I see UNC being a matchup nightmare for the Jayhawks in the Final Four, though. The Heels will be grabbing offensive rebounds like they’re playing against their little brother.

A final between Gonzaga and UNC would be a fascinating game. This year’s Zags have the athleticism and the size to keep up with the blue bloods. You might call me a homer for rolling with Gonzaga, and it’s a fair point. My counterpoint is that: (a) I’m not from Washington and (b) KenPom agrees with me.

Matt’s Picks

It looks like I’m the biggest risk-taker of the bunch here, with no top seeds advancing to the National Championship. In spite of how annoying LaVar Ball is, his son is the best player in the tournament. And I believe Lonzo will rise to the occasion. Scoring points comes far too easy for UCLA, and they play better defense than they get credit for. Both Wichita State and Seton Hall will pave the way for Ball and company. But even if the Bruins have to take on the Wildcats, they already ended their 42-game home winning streak earlier this season. UNC’s length would certainly cause problems, though.

I like Kansas emerging from the Midwest. Frank Mason III has been everything the Jayhawks needed him to be and more. The senior guard can get to the rim at will. Josh Jackson has been growing into his potential, and his athleticism on the wing will be too much to handle. If Iowa State can avoid the dreaded 5-12 upset in the first-round, the Cyclones could ruin some brackets.

I’m sure my buddy Sascha appreciates he’s not the only one who believes Gonzaga will snap their Final Four drought. As he mentioned, Nigel Williams-Goss is a phenomenal player, who will be vital come the Sweet 16. “Press Virginia” relies on their aggressive defense to score, but Williams-Goss is a one-man press-break. When the Bulldogs beat Arizona earlier this season, the Wildcats were without Allonzo Trier. I believe the Zags will once again prove how complete a team they truly are in that matchup. But they don’t have the talent to matchup with Duke, though.

The Blue Devils have finally put it all together, and I like their path to the Elite Eight. Baylor is going to continue choking early in the tournament, and neither Marquette nor SMU pose a serious threat to Duke. In their eventual meeting with no. 1 Villanova, Grayson Allen and Luke Kennard will be too much to handle on the perimeter.

The final between UCLA and Duke would be quite entertaining. Not only for the points, but the internal debate over who to cheer for. Guard play will prove decisive, and a Grayson Allen blowup has to happen eventually, right?