March Madness is back: Round of 64 thoughts and picks

Welcome to the first ever blog of Born & Raised Sports. I know its a cheesy name for a sports blog, but the one I had in mind was already taken so I thought why not. Let me preface the actual content of this blog by saying a couple things I’m sure you’re thinking right now (as I assume the only people who may be reading this are friends who know me or know of me).

1. You’re not a journalism major, so you don’t know how to write well.

2. You go to a Big 10 school, so you’re going to be a Big 10 homer.

3. You’re a millennial from the affluent western suburbs of Chicago, so you know jack shit about sports.

4. All you’re going to talk about are the Illini, Cubs, Bulls, Bears, and Hawks.

5. Who does he think he is and why the fuck is he doing this.

Truth is, I’m damn proud to be from the Chicagoland area, so will a be a homer at times for the teams I support? Probably. If you have a problem with it, I don’t give a shit, don’t read. I’m 19 years old and the only thing I’ve found that I’m very good at is sports. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not athletically gifted IN THE SLIGHTEST. What I mean to say is, I’m good at watching, betting on, and knowing general shit about sports. So I thought, fuck it. Why not express my feelings on a platform that will (hopefully) one day reach more people than I probably ever could at an advertising desk job. Now, without further ado, I give you, my analysis and picks for the round of 64 March Madness games, the best two days in all of college basketball. Also, before anyone gets on me about this, I have a bracket filled out, I’m not one of those bracket guys who fills it out as he goes so he can brag to his friends and say some dumb goon shit like, “ha bitch, look what upset I picked correctly”.

Also random disclaimer, (if you didn’t know already) I swear quite a bit. So yeah, if you don’t like that I guess you don’t have to read.

EAST REGION

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1 Villanova v. 16 Mount St. Mary’s/New Orleans

To be honest, and I know I’m going to come off sounding like a jackass, but it doesn’t matter who wins the play-in game on Tuesday, neither of these teams is dethroning Nova. Even without the veteran leadership of last year’s senior Ryan Arcidiacono, Nova finished the season 31-3, steamrolling the big east tournament and securing the #1 overall seed. Returning key players Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, and Jalen Brunson all have all played huge roles and look to be key players again going forward in this years tourney. Really, I know pretty much nothing about Mount St. Mary’s and New Orleans, but I do know that a 16 seed has never upset a 1 seed (knock on wood) and not just anyone can upset a powerhouse like Nova. Side note, I still think it’s pretty cool to say I saw Jalen Brunson play in high school against my high school, even though we did get absolutely melted.

8 Wisconsin v. 9 Virginia Tech

Now this game is interesting. VT hasn’t been in the tournament since ’07 but Buzz Williams seems to have the program veering back on course with wins against Duke, Michigan, Virginia, and Miami over the course of the season. A very deep team, VT are very balanced, with a number of capable scorers across the board. Wisconsin is coming off an end of season rough patch and a loss to rivals Michigan in the final of the Big 10 tournament (I say rivals but there really aren’t even rivalries people care about in the big ten aside from Ohio State v Michigan). Everyone knows Wisconsin as a team full of white dudes who can shoot and play defense, this year is no different. In short, they’re still boring as fuck. Their x-factor is they return four players who have played in two final fours (Bronson Koenig, Nigel Hayes, Vitto Brown, and Zak Showalter). Oh yeah, and they bring national player of the year candidate Ethan Happ. To put it bluntly, I like Wisconsin in this game.

5 Virginia v. 12 UNC-Wilmington

I’m sure at this point, readers of this blog are wondering when I’m going to pick an upset, a cinderella for them to cheer for. Well folks, this isn’t it. Virginia is going to ghetto stomp UNC Wilmington. Duke may have had trouble with them last year, but lets just remember their forms of defense include tripping people. Also, it doesn’t help that you got a guy like Brandon Ingram who’s arms are the size of fucking pencils trying to guard the 3. But I digress. Everyone knows Virginia and Tony Bennett are known primarily for their hard-nose defense. In addition to that, they’re also bench city. 4th best in defensive efficiency in the highly touted ACC with wins against Louisville x2, UNC, and Notre Dame also add to their impressive resume. UNC-Wilmington likes to push the pace, press, and cause turnovers, a strategy that often has very positive outcomes in the tourney. Not this time. Virginia advances.

4 Florida v. 13 East Tennessee State University

Before doing my research, all I really knew about ETSU was that they had a jacked baseball player who won some college baseball home run derby. That having been said, ETSU looks primed for an upset in this first round for a couple of reasons. 1. T.J. Cromer. Kids a fucking animal. Drops 41 in the semis and 23 in the final… ICE. 2. They’re deep. 9 players see 13+ MPG and fresh legs always provide a boost. Onto Florida. Replacing the iconic Billy Donovan is no easy matter and new UF coach Mike White has done a bang up job. Only one problem. The SEC is a not a traditionally well-balanced basketball conference. And don’t get on me and say some shit about how they’ve got four teams in the dance this year. Aside from Kentucky, nobody ever goes anywhere in the tourney from the SEC. Florida does have some big time wins against Kentucky, South Carolina, and Miami, but it won’t be enough to save them. First upset of the day, ETSU takes down Florida in the Gators backyard.

6 Southern Methodist University v. 11 Providence/University of Southern California (USC)

SMU pulled off a very decisive victory in the AAC championship game that I for one didn’t see coming. A very tough defensive team that likes to control the tempo, SMU has the weapons to go far in this tournament. However, their lack of depth is worrying. On the other hand, Providence has coped well with the loss of star Kris Dunn to the NBA. They’ve also pulled off some big wins as of late over opponents such as Butler, Xavier, Creighton, and Marquette. I’m a big USC guy. I like the way they play basketball, and I like their versatility and depth on the offensive end this year (four players averaging over 10 PPG). I like USC over Providence but I don’t think they’ll get past SMU and their melodic play style. SMU pulls out of this matchup.

3 Baylor v. 14 New Mexico State

I’m going to keep this one short cause I’m pretty sure nobody in their right mind is going to bet against Jonathan Motley and Baylor. Kids a literal brick shithouse and can, and will carry the Bears to an astounding first round victory. Let’s also not forget that Baylor was ranked #1 at one point earlier in the season after defeating top tier opponents such as Oregon, Louisville, Michigan State, and Xavier. New Mexico State is above average defensively but without a real test this season, I see them having no shot at overcoming the mountain that is Baylor basketball.

7 South Carolina v. 10 Marquette

Annnddd we’ve reached the first pick that has kinda been swayed by a bias. Shoutout to cousin Jake. Normally, I side with defensive teams in postseason tournament settings such as these but in the case of South Carolina, I just don’t see enough quality wins against ranked opponents to side with them. South Carolina is led by former 5-star recruit P.J. Dozier and Sindarius Thornwell (hell of a name). Maybe I’m anti-SEC, but when the conference is dominated by two teams year after year, it’s hard to give them the respect. Marquette on the other hand has had some big time wins against tournament opponents such as Seton Hall, Creighton x2, Xavier x2, and then #1 Villanova. While not horrible on defense, Marquette is pretty bad, but they make up for it in their 3-point shooting percentage, which led the nation at almost 43%. They also know how to share the ball, with five players averaging in double digits and seven getting 20+ minutes per game. Marquette heats up from behind the arc and knocks out South Carolina.

2 Duke v. 15 Troy

No offense kids that go to Troy, (I don’t know why someone from Troy would be reading this) but I couldn’t tell you where the fuck Troy University is. Duke is a very predictable team. While not super elite on defense, you know they’re going to get the job done against lesser opponents while overwhelming them on the offensive end of the floor. With shooters like Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen combined with a matchup nightmare in Jayson Tatum, Duke is going to be hard to beat. Just like the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, Duke will always have amazing white dudes who most everyone hates, but has to respect cause they’re so damn good. Duke sends a naive Troy team back to the sticks of Alabama in an easy win.

WEST REGION

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1 Gonzaga v. 16 South Dakota State

I’m literally going to sound like a broken record on every one of these 1 v 16 matchups. It’s never happened, and it will not happen this year. Gonzaga are almost a perfect team this year. Depth, shooting, inside presence, defense, efficiency, you name it, they’ve got it. Only problem with the Bulldogs is their competition, which in the WAC, is questionable at times. Wins against BYU and St. Mary’s can usually only take a team so far, but with wins this year against opponents such as Florida, Iowa State, and Arizona, it looks like this year could be the year. South Dakota State has an excellent scorer in Mike Daum, but with a fluke-like tournament run, the 18-16 Jackrabbits don’t really stand a chance. Bulldogs power though the first round with ease.

8 Northwestern v. 9 Vanderbilt

Here’s another pick where, when I saw the bracket announcement, I already knew who I was picking regardless of who the team played. Northwestern is probably a fine team. They’ve got quality wins over opponents like Dayton, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Maryland, and are a very balanced offense. That would all be well and good if not for the fact that they lost to Illinois… twice. Now, I attend Illinois and I assume a lot of the people reading this go to Illinois and I don’t want people to get the wrong idea. I love the school and the program, but we (Illinois) FUCKING SUCK. So if a team as bad as Illinois can beat Northwestern, I don’t really even need to see the resume of their opponent. However, I’ll do it cause why not. Wins over Florida x3, Iowa State, and South Carolina are impressive, but they’re a very heavy 3-point shooting team (shooting 38% on the year). It can really go either way for them, if the threes are falling, they’re gold, if not, they’re doomed (I guess thats pretty self explanatory but thought I’d say it anyway). Vanderbilt takes the upset and moves on to face giants Gonzaga.

5 Notre Dame v. 12 Princeton

I’m not really going to get into it, but I hate Notre Dame. Every time I see that short red haired college kid running around in the Leprechaun outfit it makes me want to punch a hole in my TV. Also, I’m so sick and tired of Notre Dame fans telling people how great they are and everyone wearing those stupid shirts that say “Fighting Irish” or “Play Like A Champion Today”. All that having been said, their basketball team has been stellar this year, racking up wins against Northwestern, Louisville, Miami, Virginia, and Florida State x2. They’re a very balanced offensive team and like to work fast on the court. Princeton, however, are on the literal opposite end of the spectrum. They move slow, control the tempo, and have a wide variety of options in scoring with five averaging in double digits. Like many others, their downfall for me is in their strength of schedule, which the ivy league is not known for producing. As much as it pains me to say it, the Fighting Irish fight on past the Tigers and into the second round.

4 West Virginia v. 13 Bucknell

I know some people say he’s a dick, but I fucking love Bob Huggins. Moreso Bob Huggins the coach, not the man. His signature look of the oversized sweater paired with his tough press tendencies make him a hard coach to beat, as proven in the past few years of the tournament. As is their usual downfall, the Mountaineers aren’t very good offensively in the half court, which could be something to look out for if Bucknell is able to slow them down. Poor free throw shooting often kills teams in tournaments, and it could be the achilles heel for a Bucknell team with tremendous upside. Boasting the player of the year in their conference, Bucknell will threaten, but will not be able to defeat, the Mountaineers of West Virginia. WVU moves on.

6 Maryland v. 11 Xavier

When looking at this matchup and the seedings, one wouldn’t expect this game to be a as close as it probably will be. Both teams are very similar in a variety of ways. They are both very heavily reliant on star guard play to act as a catalyst for the rest of their offense. For Maryland, junior Melo Trimble is the man. While streaky, he can pull magic out of the bag and put the team on his back in streaks of brilliance. Meanwhile, Xavier’s golden boy is Trevon Bluiett, a 6 foot 6 junior the offense is run through and centered around. While Xavier’s season has been characterized by a few big wins such as Seton Hall, Creighton, and Butler, Maryland’s campaign has been defined by consistency in a strong Big 10 conference. All this having been said, I like the Musketeers for the upset over Maryland.

3 Florida State v. 14 Florida Gulf Coast University

Everyone that watched the fateful 2013 tournament has a special place in their heart for Dunk City. This is not that same team. In fact, they’re almost a polar opposite. FGCU this year has been a very slow tempo, possession-based team. While the dunks they traded in makes for a show not as glamorous, their 3-point shooting makes up for it tenfold. However, like any shooting-heavy team, if the shots aren’t falling, they’re in trouble. If I’m being honest, those last five sentences were out of respect for the joy Dunk City gave me in high school. Florida State is going to annihilate Florida Gulf Coast. The Seminoles can flat out score, and Dwayne Bacon and Johnathan Isaac are no joke. While they could be in trouble if they are forced to go to the free throw line, this matchup looks to be an easy W for the Seminoles. Noles’ beat down Dunk City and advance to the second round.

7 St. Mary’s v. 10 Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)

I was really hoping that when Shaka Smart announced he was leaving VCU that he was going to pick Illinois as his new home but money talks. Even after Smart’s departure, it seems as though the turnover-heavy mentality is still in place, with the Rams averaging around 15 caused turnovers a game. In addition to their scrappy defense, VCU also boasts a very deep, healthy team, with 9 players averaging double digit minutes. I think the best way to describe the Gaels is by saying they are very San Antonio Spurs-esque in their unselfish ball movement that defines them. I’m going to keep saying this again and again, but I truly believe that strength of schedule and major wins are a major indicator for a team’s success in the tournament. With only one quality win (Dayton) I have doubts about St. Mary’s chances in the first round. Rams suffocate the Gaels and advance.

2 Arizona v. 15 North Dakota

This is another one of those games where I feel like its a no-brainer. While North Dakota can score in bunches, they just don’t have the personnel to hang with the Wildcats. Future draft picks Allonzo Trier and Lauri Markkanen lead the way for a ferociously athletic and aggressive team who aren’t afraid to shoot or drive into the paint. The Wildcats can do it all, and look to be a force going forward in the tournament. Arizona mauls the Fighting Hawks, advance to the 2nd round.

MIDWEST REGION

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1 Kansas v 16 North Carolina Central/UC Davis

I have no respect for that fucking traitor Bill Self. However, that man knows how to recruit and coach a basketball team and this years’ Jayhawks team is the real deal. Along with the point I continue to make that a 16 seed has never beaten a 1 seed, I believe it really does not matter who Kansas plays, they are going to steamroll everyone in their road to the Final Four. This is another situation where I really don’t think any justification is needed for my pick but I’m going to do it anyway. Kansas ended ranked #1 in the polls. Kansas has beaten: then #1 Duke, Iowa State, Kentucky and Baylor. They boast two of the best players in all of college basketball in Frank Mason III and Josh Jackson. No offense to North Carolina Central or UC Davis, but I don’t think any of their accomplishments come anywhere close to that. Kansas by 1000.

8 Miami (Florida) v. 9 Michigan State

For me, this pick has come down to a coin flip and thats because I can’t really weigh which team is better suited to win this game. On the Miami side, their guard play has been above average the entire year. With resume builder wins UNC, Virginia, and Duke, Miami has proven to the world they have that spark that can propel them over the top. On the flip side, Michigan State relies very heavily on freshman Miles Bridges. While Bridges is a go-to man, the Spartans are still very generous with the ball, maintaining a very high assist percentage on made field goals. As the team is young, it is obviously expected that the turnover ratio has not worked in their favor. This is something that is troublesome and definitely needs to be cleaned up come tournament time if Sparty wants any chance of advancing. Michigan State’s quality wins include Minnesota x2, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Michigan State squeaks past the Canes with a little help from the Izzo factor.

5 Iowa State v. 12 Nevada

Iowa State this year is an odd case. Coming in red hot off a Big 12 tournament victory, the Cyclones have also had some big time moments against Kansas, Baylor, and West Virginia over the course of the year. While they do run a small ball-type lineup with four guards, their guards can really ball. They all average 12+ PPG and almost 4 rebounds. Nevada on the other hand has not really had any signature wins and mainly focuses on balance, with five players averaging in double digits. Like other teams however, Nevada’s downfall will be their lack of a bench. The pace of play put on Nevada by the Cyclones will be too much for significant minutes by the starters and it will prove too much. Cyclones blow away the Wolf Pack and advance.

4 Purdue v. 13 Vermont

Purdue is scary. That’s probably the best way to put it if I’m honest. While they may not be the best shooting team, they boast the nation’s best front court duo in 6 foot 9 Caleb Swanigan and 7 foot 2 Isaac Haas. It’s literally like a black hole for rebounds down there in the paint. Plus, I just want to take a second to ask what the fuck a Catamount is and how that is one of the most non-threatening mascot names of all time. Even if it is a scary animal, the name just sounds soft. Anyways, Purdue has had some big time wins this season including Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Northwestern x2, and Maryland. Many teams don’t have the size or depth to hang with the Boilermakers’ frontcourt and will pay the price because of it. Unfortunately, Vermont is one of those teams. After losing to the all the ranked opponents they had to play, they had smooth sailing through the American East conference. Their efficiency on both ends of the court is worrisome though as they could have the chance to expose the Purdue defense. Boilermakers pummel the Catamounts (but seriously what the hell kind of name is that) and advance.

6 Creighton v. 11 Rhode Island

Creighton has proven themselves time and time again with wins against top opponents Wisconsin, Providence x2, Butler x2, and Xavier x2. Their offense is centered around guards Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas with help from big Justin Patton. The Bluejays only weakness has seemed to be their inconsistency on the boards and defense. Rhode Island, while in a weaker conference in the A10 have proven themselves with wins against Cincinnati and VCU x2. A well rounded team, their only weakness seems to be their free throw troubles. Their depth and size up front will help them against a shooter-heavy Creighton side. Rhode Island pulls off the upset of the Blue Jays and moves on to the second round.

3 Oregon v. 14 Iona

Another game where I have very little doubt in my pick. Oregon was bound to get a 2,3, or 4 seed which would most likely mean they would crush their opponent. Although they’ve had some close calls in games down the stretch, they can still boast a 29-5 record with victories against high seeded tournament teams such as UCLA and Arizona. To put it bluntly, Dillon Brooks is a stud and he has the talent to single-handedly carry the Ducks very far in this tournament. Add a supporting cast and no weaknesses and you’ve got yourself a tournament-ready Oregon team. Led by Jordan Washington, Iona is at times very one dimensional, relying heavily on the star. This coupled with a mediocre bench is a problem waiting to happen. Oregon roasts Iona and gets one step closer to the Final Four.

7 Michigan v. 10 Oklahoma State

Michigan is RED HOT and pissed off coming off of a Big 10 tournament victory where they had to play games in practice jerseys as their in-game jerseys were lost on a flight (which is weird and nobody talks about that and how that dude was probably shitting himself). Derrick Walton Jr. and Zac Irvin have proven themselves in the tourney before and their experience is going to mean a lot if Michigan wants to make a deep run. However, the Wolverines can become inconsistent at times, causing them to easily lose games. Oklahoma State, while they can score in buckets, are not a very deep team and this coupled with the fact that their only big win during the regular season came against West Virginia leads me to lean Michigan’s way. Wolverines claw their way through a tough matchup and move on.

2 Louisville v. 15 Jacksonville State

Louisville has an impressive resume that includes wins over Wichita State, Purdue, Kentucky, Duke, and Notre Dame. To say it was a lucky mistake that the 20-14 Gamecocks made it to the dance would be an understatement. With best wins coming only against unranked opponents, it seems as if the Gamecocks will not have the personnel to deal with the powerhouse that is Louisville basketball. Watch out for Louisville star Donovan Mitchell to be a key factor on both ends of the floor in their domination of Jacksonville State. Cards roll into the second round with ease.

SOUTH REGION

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1 North Carolina v. 16 Texas Southern

It seems like every year, all the analysts say that this UNC team is the best they’ve had in a while, but I think this year takes the cake. Freshman phenom Justin Jackson leads the way for the Tar Heels with his versatility in scoring the ball. That, coupled with backcourt partner Joel Berry II’s shooting prowess and a powerful front court duo of double-double machines in Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks makes the Heels a force to be reckoned with. Texas Southern, while riding a nine game win streak and sporting the SWAC player of the year, doesn’t stand a chance. It’s all well and good that their coach has put them up against top competition in the non-conference like Louisville, Arizona, and Baylor, but it doesn’t really mean shit when you get waxed by them. Don’t get me wrong, as an Illinois fan, I will forever hate North Carolina for what they did to our hopes and dreams in the ’05 title game, but I cannot deny this team has that special something. North Carolina advances with ease.

8 Arkansas v. 9 Seton Hall

If you haven’t figured it out already, I’ve got a bias against SEC basketball in the big dance. This matchup is going to be no different. I’ve been burned way too many times thinking an SEC team has some quality wins, or that they got an easy draw, or a multitude of other things. Without fail, I always get cucked by those bastards. Not this year. Not unless it is a sure thing like Kentucky. I preach time and time again that depth is good in the tourney, and Arkansas do have a big advantage here with that. However, with their only quality wins coming against South Carolina and Vanderbilt, Arkansas have still not proven themselves to me this year. Seton Hall on the other hand has a weapon in Angel Delgado that is unlike anything Arkansas can cope with. The junior forward led the NATION in rebounds and averaged a double double with 15.3 PPG and 13.1 RPG. His effort, combined with streaky shooter Khadeen Carrington make for a deadly combination. Pirates pull off the upset against Arkansas in the first round.

5 Minnesota v. 12 Middle Tennessee State

While the numbers don’t show it, I think Minnesota is a very overrated team in this tournament. While they are coming off a very disappointing Big 10 tournament, there is a lot of upside for the Gophers. Versatility is the key word for the Minnesota offense, with balanced guard play and some good forwards and bangers in the paint. They are able to also show their quality with wins against tournament contender teams such as Purdue, Northwestern, and Maryland. Middle Tennessee State, on the other hand, is anything but stable. Their high scoring offense can hang with anyone in the country, but it’s a slippery slope, as they tend to slack off on defense at times. The Blue Raiders are no stranger to an upset, as they pulled off a shocker last year against 2 seed Michigan State. Gotta pick a big upset that doesn’t make much sense somewhere right? So I’m going with MTSU in a first round upset of the Gophers.

4 Butler v. 13 Winthrop

At 23-8, Butler boasts one some of the best regular season ranked wins of anyone in the field in their victories over Arizona, Cincinnati, Villanova x2, and Xavier x2. This alone is why I have them over Winthrop, but when you look closer, there are an abundance of real reasons too. Playing time is very well spread out amongst the Bulldog players, with 9 individuals receiving double digit minutes per game. For Winthrop, the 3-point bomb can make or break them. If they’re on, Big South player of the year Keon Johnson and teammate Anders Broman are going to have a field day and may be able to pull off the upset. However, I see the Bulldogs defense toughening up and pulling them through to the second round.

6 Cincinnati v. 11 Kansas State/Wake Forest

This year’s Cincinnati team has been known for both their lockdown defensive efforts and rebounding, two factors that will carry them far in the tournament. Coming off a (for me) surprise loss to SMU in the AAC title game, the Bearcats are going to come out of the gate hungry against either Kansas State or Wake Forest and will make sure to bury them. Cincinnati also boasts great wins against Iowa State, SMU, and Xavier. Cincinnati storm past whoever they play.

3 UCLA v. 14 Kent State

UCLA has been the team everyone has followed and wanted to watch year round. The Bruins, ran by future lottery pick Lonzo Ball, play absolutely electric basketball. Their fast-paced offense punished lazy teams, resulting in an average of over 90 points per game for UCLA. In addition to their stars, the Bruins also are very deep offensively, with six players averaging in double figures. Key wins for the Bruins include Kentucky, Oregon, USC x2, and Arizona. Kent State is basically the Jimmy Hall show, who, while a double double monster, will not be able to slow the Bruins tricky, fast-paced, transitional offense all by himself. Without the supporting cast and top quality wins, the Golden Flashes fall to the Bruins in the first round.

7 Dayton v. 10 Wichita State

Everyone’s favorite cinderella team is back. Gregg Marshall’s Shocker squad will definitely be playing angry this year after receiving an insultingly low seed for a 30-4, conference winning team. Granted, its the Missouri Valley, but the Shockers were beat their only two ranked matchups. The Shockers, while they have lost tournament legends Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker still hold the same principles of bench depth, unselfishness, and and three point shooting near and dear to their hearts. Holding opponents to a measly 44% from the field also helps their case to advance. On the flip side, Dayton returns their tournament veterans Scoochie Smith and Charles Cooke who will make sure that not only things don’t get out of hand, but also that the pace of the game is how they would like and the scoring continues. A lack of quality ranked wins worries me and because I’ve been burned too many times for doubting Wichita State, I’m finally giving in and picking the Shockers to get through this year.

2 Kentucky v. 15 Northern Kentucky

Honestly, John Calipari never ceases to amaze me. Year in, year out, the chubby 50-something year old is able to draw top recruits to Lexington, Kentucky and every year without fail, they get hot toward the end of the year and go into the tournament guns blazing. This year is obviously no different. Led by lottery picks Malik Monk and De’Aron Fox, the 29-5 Wildcats proved once again they are a force to be reckoned with in their victories over quality teams like Michigan State, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida. Northern Kentucky really doesn’t stand a chance against the SEC champs. Kentucky rocks their northern counterparts and advances to the second round.

Thank You.

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7 hours and 5,000+ words later, there you have it… my 2017 round of 64 picks. If you’ve actually gotten this far, thank you, I really appreciate you reading all of my bullshit. I know theres probably spelling or grammatical errors but its the first blog, there’s MANY more to come, I’ll get better, cut me some slack (I promise I’ll work on condensing my thoughts). Also, feel free to let me know if I got any facts wrong, I started writing this at like 7am on no sleep and its 6pm right now. If you enjoyed, or even if you didn’t, tell your friends, give me some feedback, and share, share, share.

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