ALL PICKS, SIMULATIONS, AND INSIGHTS
Why can't an improved Gonzaga team that made a run to the Sweet 16 last season without Karnowski -- and had a late lead over Final Four-bound Syracuse -- get more love? The Bulldogs will when they win the whole thing. Yeah, the program made history. But Northwestern over its past 12 games will struggle against Vanderbilt. Luke Kornet is a 7-footer who made 38 percent of his 3-pointers in league play. Plus, Vandy has won seven of its last nine. This is a team that had a point lead over Kentucky two weeks ago in Rupp Arena and beat Florida twice in six days.
The Commodores are soaring. Northwestern will not enter the NCAA tournament with the same momentum. Northwestern is not alone. Slumping Wisconsin , still a victim of its own offensive droughts, will lose to Virginia Tech wins over Duke, Michigan, Miami, Virginia in the first round. Also in the first round, an experienced Xavier team will win a close game over a Maryland squad that needs major contributions from multiple freshmen making their first NCAA tournament appearances.
Without injured guard Akeem Springs 9. Those excited about Michigan 's shooting in the Big Ten tournament might not realize Oklahoma State is ranked first in adjusted offensive efficiency. Jawun Evans and the Cowboys will win that opening-round shootout.
Short-handed Michigan State will fall against Bruce Brown In the second round, Iowa State, led by point guard Monte Morris Oregon goes to the Final Four without Chris Boucher. They can't spread the floor the same way without him and his 3-point shooting 36 percent in Pac play.
Plus, the loss damages their depth and interior defense. But the Ducks nearly knocked off Arizona in the Pac tournament championship without him. Same with its defensive efficiency. Oregon is strong enough, however, to fight through the Midwest Region and punch its ticket to Glendale, Arizona, without Boucher. In its past 12 games, Iowa State finished , a tally that included a road win over Kansas. If the Cyclones can beat Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse, they can do the same at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, a town Iowa State fans swallowed as they cheered their squad to a Big 12 tournament championship over the weekend.
They'll come strong again when the Cyclones face the Jayhawks -- an elite team that squeezed by an abundance of opponents in games decided by five points or less -- in the Sweet This will be another thriller, but Iowa State will limit its turnovers and advance. Virginia lacks an offensive catalyst beyond London Perrantes , which is one of the reasons the Cavaliers failed to finish multiple games they led at halftime this season.
They're an aggressive defensive team, but Kevin Keatts' squad doesn't commit many turnovers second nationally in turnover rate, per KenPom. They'll keep this game close and finish Virginia in the final minute. At least you have great weather, because you won't have much success in the NCAA tournament. Miami may escape Michigan State, but the Hurricanes can't handle Kansas in the second round with their unreliable, turnover-prone offense.
I liked Florida far more before shot-blocker John Egbunu 's season-ending knee injury. The Gators are over their past six games without him. They'll lack the depth to overcome a hot-shooting UNC Wilmington or efficient Virginia in the second round.
Yeah, Duke's messy season complicates projections about this up-and-down crew. But if you're a Duke fan, you know you have the pieces to make a run and earn a slot in a prime-time matchup against Villanova in the Elite Eight. History will show the Alabama dynasty as one of the greatest achievements in college football history.
The Crimson Tide once again enter fall camp as the defending National Champions. They have won a stunning five titles in 10 years. And with all the impediments in major collegiate athletics, both on the field and off, this is a feat we may not see again for a long, long time. But I'm not here to worship at the altar of Alabama. In fact, last year's national title was another sham, their second garbage, BS national title of their dynasty.
The Crimson Tide did not win their division last year. They did not win their conference title last year. Yet they were once again "grandfathered" into the College Football Playoff based on, I don't know, recruiting rankings? There is no coherent argument that anyone can make as to why Alabama made the playoff last year.
That they won two games is irrelevant; they never should've been there to begin with. It is similar to their sham title in , when they were placed in the BCS Title Game against LSU a team they had lost to at home that season despite - stop me if you've heard this one - not winning their division or their conference.
Further, the SEC was a joke last year. It was an absolute joke, and it was not a good football conference. LSU lost to Troy. Florida and Tennessee were total trash fires, and six of the 14 teams in the league got new coaches after the season. But hey, Alabama must be great, right? All the writers said so.