I’ll never forget when my approach to filling out brackets changed. As an underclassman at Wisconsin I watched a lot of basketball. Armed with statistical analysis and hours upon hours of spectating, I filled out my bracket more prepared than ever. My girlfriend at the time was the polar opposite. With exactly zero minutes of basketball watched and somehow even less interest, she begrudgingly completed a bracket based on what campuses she enjoyed visiting the most, culminating with a national champion pick of Kansas. I knew this would backfire because Kansas had a bad reputation for choking in March and I made sure to adjust my own bracket accordingly. Anyway long story short, Kansas won the national championship, she beat me in the pool, and I began my long journey down the road toward not watching the games at all.
There are countless approaches to completing an NCAA Tournament bracket and they all stink a whole bunch, but the one thing they all have in common is the need to pick upsets. You can’t just create the Paul Chryst of brackets and call it a day; it’s uncouth. But if you’re reading this and you still haven’t finished your bracket you don’t have time to tell your Abilenes from your Norse from your Gophers! But fear not dear reader, a few of your beloved “writers” got together to share a sneak peek at some of our upset picks for March.
It is physically impossible to choose all of our upsets, but if you’re dumb enough to want to do that, well...you probably frequent OTE.
(13) UC Irvine over (4) Kansas State
MC ClapYoHandz: Impressive small program meets [insert meh Big 12 team here]. The Anteaters knocked out St. Mary’s earlier in the year and are capable of taking over this defensive showcase and taking home their 17th-straight win.
MC: Because, I mean, it’s going to happen.
(14) Yale to the Sweet Sixteen
Beezer07: The prediction is Maryland loses to a feisty Belmont squad, while a clearly superior LSU team falls apart without their probably-did-crimes head coach. After that, Yale does what an Ivy does every few years: win in the second round and make the Sweet Sixteen.
(12) Oregon to the Sweet Sixteen
MNWildcat: o hai, Oregon! I’m doing the momentum thing and seeing if it works. (It probably won’t.) I was tempted to take Belmont, too, because they can shoot kinda good and I don’t believe in LSU, but that’s about it. What a boring bracket.
(11) St. Mary’s to the Sweet Sixteen
MC: Is my analysis largely influenced by the one game I saw them play (beating Gonzaga over the weekend)? Maybe. But this team plays solid offense and is really under-seeded, Villanova haven’t been their magical selves this year, and let’s be real, it’d be a good opportunity to laugh at Purdue.
(11) Ohio State to the Sweet Sixteen
Beezer: They have their full team again, they were playing better-ish toward the end, they looked good early in the season, and it’d be fun.
(7) Wofford to the Elite Eight
MC: YOLO or whatever, let’s get. Buck. Wild. This is one of those where it could easily be a bracketbuster but the opposite way, going in deep on an upset team that doesn’t follow through. But this team is really good. They finished the year ranked #19 in the country, and if you’re getting national attention and earning a 7-seed from the Southern Conference, you’re capable of pulling off some weird stuff. I’m not sure I actually believe they’d get by Kentucky, but Kentucky can get fucked. Plus, last year golden retrievers won as a 16-seed. These are terriers that got all the way up to 7! Trust dogs.
(5) Marquette to the Elite Eight
MNW: Mostly because I’m an irascible homer.
(4) Wisconsin to the Elite Eight
DJ Carver: Wisconsin over Virginia because Wisconsin is comfortable with that playing style and has absolutely zero issue uglying that shit up with them.
MC: I don’t even have this happening.
(3) Texas Tech to the Final Four
Jesse Collins: Somehow, I think that team is pretty good and they are really well coached. Defense is good enough to slow down and muddy up the Gonzaga game plus, Gonzaga will probably disappoint. Otherwise, I’ve got really boring picks.
(3) Purdue to the Final Four
DJ: Purdue beats Wisconsin to get into the Final Four because I like to take teams that have a strong lead guard that can take over a game himself. Carsen Edwards can do that when he’s on. I only did this in one bracket but it’s not impossible.
(4) Kansas to the Final Four
MNW: I have Kansas in the Final Four, which is neither fun nor, really, an upset outside the strictest legal definition that they’re a 4-seed. And it’s dumb, because I love these low seeds in the Final Four; one of the most annoying sprotstalk taeks I heard driving home on Sunday was that the VCU/Butler/Loyola Finals Four were boring because it was bad basketball. No! That’s a shitty take! Keep it in your boring head where you also think Blue Moon is the peak of craft beer.
(6) Villanova to the National Championship Game
Beezer: Why? Because I’m not trying to have my 1st round game between Ole Miss and Oklahoma be used as the tiebreaker between me and the 5,000 other people who also had Duke, Kentucky, Michigan, and UVA. Nova shoots lots of 3s, has a coach who knows what he’s doing, gets a decent pod matchup, etc. But it still won’t be enough to beat Gonzaga! Also I still have Duke and Kentucky in the Final Four because the world is shit.
Additionally, for those of you that follow our own stewmonkey13’s rating system, it has produced the following upsets:
Belmont to the Sweet 16
Murray St. to the Sweet 16
Buffalo to the Elite 8
Nevada picks off Michigan
New Mexico St. to the sweet 16
Houston to the Final 4 (I see you, Indiana fans).
So there you have it, totally reasonable takes on the tourney that will in no way backfire in anyone’s face. What upsets are you laying claim to this year? Share them in the comments and reveal the imbecile you truly are.