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NCAA Tournament Roundtable

Let’s go dancing!

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Four-North Carolina Central Eagles vs North Dakota State Bison Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The team in the SEC who you think is capable of making the biggest run and why?

Robert O’Neill: While it’s probably a lazy/safe answer, I’m going with the Kentucky Wildcats. Aside from their slipup to a very good Tennessee team in the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats have been playing incredibly well on both sides of the ball this season. They’re ranked in the top 15 in adjusted offense AND adjusted defense on KenPom, marking just the fourth time the Wildcats have finished that high in both categories under John Calipari. The other three times, the Wildcats either won the National Championship, made it to the Final Four, or made it to the Elite Eight.

Chris Novak: I will also go with the ‘lazy’ answer of Kentucky. I think this team is playing great basketball right now, and although they ran into Tennessee in the SEC Tournament, they are more than capable of making a lengthy run. I trust John Calipari a bit more than Rick Barnes, frankly. The other teams meanwhile have their own hurdles to overcome. So, give me Cal, as I think UK will get to the Elite Eight before losing to UNC.

Matthew Gelenites: The “lazy” answer is Kentucky, but it’s the best answer. Great combination of inside and outside scoring. Amazing athletes that have really come together in conference play.

Julian Mitchell: I’m keeping with the lazy theme and saying Kentucky. Mostly because I think Virginia is an absolute buzzsaw that also has a chip on its shoulder.

Zach Remelius: I hate to be an echo chamber to everyone else but it is Kentucky. Calipari’s team has been great all year (save for the Duke game) and I think they will make a run to the Elite Eight before bowing out to North Carolina.

Niesha Middlebrooks: I have Kentucky making the biggest run in the tournament, of course. This team is known for making a big splash in the NCAA Tournament, so what’s the difference in this year, yeah? Calipari always has mentally and physically prepared just for this. They are a dominant team, on both sides of the ball. However, they’re going to be out in the Elite Eight against UNC.

The team in the SEC who you think is getting upset early on and why?

Robert O’Neill: I really don’t like Auburn’s matchup against New Mexico State in the 5/12 game. They won the SEC Tournament and are in the top 15 of KenPom, and their “reward” is having to travel across the country to face a 30-win New Mexico State Aggies team that boasts very similar metrics to the Tigers? If you’re looking for a 5/12 upset, this is probably a good pick.

Chris Novak: I honestly did not pick any team to lose early on. Auburn might have to travel across the country, but while NMSU is great inside, I’m not sure they can keep up with Auburn’s hot shooting from deep. So… I actually don’t foresee anything happening. At least in the Round of 64. I do have Belmont picking off LSU.

Matthew Gelenites: LSU loses to Yale. Why? Tony Bedford was 8-28 as the coach of North Texas. He struggled in the SEC tournament as well.

Julian Mitchell: I have LSU losing in the second round to Maryland. The Will Wade situation will end up being too much of a hurdle for the team to overcome, although I’m not extremely confident in this pick.

Zach Remelius: LSU has been through quite a bit over the last couple weeks but I don’t think Yale will be able to keep up. However like Chris I have Belmont bouncing LSU in the second round, which will make a lot of people happy.

Niesha Middlebrooks: LSU is leaving early. With the drama involving their coach WIll Wade, can affect the team on the big stage? Yes. They can beat Yale in the first round but at this moment in time, there’s too much smoke to clear out before the first round game.

Who plays more games: Ole Miss or Florida?

Robert O’Neill: Ole Miss. Nevada was one of the nation’s best teams all year and got woefully underseeded as a 7-seed, and they’re likely going to take that out on the Gators.

Matthew Gelenites: I like Breein Tyree too much not to pick Ole Miss. thy have a good matchup against Oklahoma too so I can see them getting past to the round of 32.

Chris Novak: I am going to go with Ole Miss here, as well. Florida has a stingy defense, but Nevada has more playmakers than the Gators do at this juncture.

Julian Mitchell: Push. Although Nevada was the darling last year and have been great this year, there’s just something about Florida in the tourney. They’re never not tough and always win at least one game. I believe they might just be the biggest “better than their record indicates” team in the field. Ole Miss and Florida both go home in the second round, however.

Zach Remelius: Ole Miss gets to play Oklahoma and Florida has to play an underseeded Nevada team, can you guess who I have? Give me the SEC coach of the year and Breein Tyree to get to the second round and Florida gets bounced by the Wolfpack.

Niesha Middlebrooks: I have Florida playing more in the Tournament. I think they are a better team than Nevada but they are getting ousted in the second round against Michigan.

Who plays more games: Auburn or Mississippi State?

Robert O’Neill: Mississippi State. As noted above I think Auburn is going to lose in the first round.

Chris Novak: Puuuuuuuuuuush. Both play one before falling to the 4 seeds in their region.

Matthew Gelenites: Auburn, they just have shot the lights out recently. I think they can continue the shooting streak.

Julian Mitchell: This is the recency bias special. I have Auburn knocking out UNC en route to an Elite 8 matchup with UK. Jared Harper, Bryce Brown and company can straight up shoot and I think that can carry them to at least three wins. Let’s not forget, this was a top 10 team at one point.

Zach Remelius: I have Auburn making it to the Sweet Sixteen beating New Mexico State and finishing off what is left of the Kansas Jayhawks to make the Sweet Sixteen. Mississippi State gets knocked off by Virginia Tech in round two so Auburn

Niesha Middlebrooks: I have both teams going down by a close upset.

The team you’re most confident in making the Final Four: Kentucky or Tennessee?

Robert O’Neill: Kentucky. Nothing against the Vols, of course, but I think Virginia’s going to be out for revenge in that region after what happened last season.

Chris Novak: Kentucky. Although I feel they’re going to lose to UNC, I am more confident in them getting to Minneapolis than I do Tennessee. Calipari, baby.

Julian Mitchell: The Wildcats because I think the bracket will open up for them a little better. I just don’t see UVA being an easy out for anyone, including Tennessee. The factors that can hurt Kentucky, however, are that Hagans and Quickley haven’t been game changers offensively and that this team is susceptible to long field goal droughts at times.

Zach Remelius: Kentucky!!!! I don’t trust Rick Barnes in the tourney and Calipari will have his team ready to go. Before even the Elite Eight UT may have to play a Cincinatti team that will be a tough out, and Villanova or Purdue that has the potential to be brutal. Kentucky I believe will coast to the Elite Eight and when UNC and UK matchup anything can happen.

Niesha Middlebrooks: Of course, I’d take Kentucky all day. Yes, Tennessee has a great team but they can’t beat Virginia. Kentucky has continuously shown their ability to show up and dominate on the big stage. I have them out in the Final Four against UNC. The Tarheels are just a better team.

What’s the biggest upset that you foresee happening in the NCAA Tournament?

Robert O’Neill: Either Northeastern over Kansas or Vermont over FSU.

Matthew Gelenites: I, for no reason believe Oregon will upset Wisconsin because I really, really like Kenny Wooten.

Chris Novak: Matthew… Go Ducks. Anyways, give me UC Irvine over Kansas State. K-State’s defense is elite, but neither of these teams are great offensively. If one or two things break UC Irvine’s way, the Anteaters will score a big 4-13 upset.

Julian Mitchell: I have Oregon taking out Wisconsin and Kansas State. Everyone likes to dunk on the Pac-12, but it was extremely competitive if nothing else. Wisconsin will be a tough test, but if they can get past them, they surely can beat Kansas State. Plus, Dana Altman has a history of coaching them up. I also have Villanova winning two games.

Zach Remelius: I have Oregon in the Sweet Sixteen but I have a lot of chalk and it makes me rather uncomfortable. I really wanted to pick my hometown Billikens over the Hokies but I couldn’t do it.

Niesha Middlebrooks: I have Murray State as the Cinderella team but going to the Sweet Sixteen and losing to Gonzaga.

Who are your Elite Eight teams?

Robert O’Neill: Duke, Michigan State, Gonzaga, Michigan, Virginia, Villanova, North Carolina, Kentucky

Matthew Gelenites: Duke, Michigan State, Gonzaga, Nevada, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky

Chris Novak: Duke, Sparty, Gonzaga, Nevada, UNC, Kentucky, UVA, Villanova

Julian Mitchell: Duke, Michigan State, Marquette, Michigan, Virginia, Tennessee, Auburn and Kentucky

Zach Remelius: Duke, Michigan State, Virginia, Villanova, Gonzaga, Michigan, North Carolina, and Kentucky

Niesha Middlebrooks: Duke, Michigan State, Gonzaga, Michigan, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky

Who are your Final Four teams?

Robert O’Neill: Duke, Michigan, Virginia, Kentucky

Matthew Gelenites: Duke, Kentucky, Gonzaga, Virginia

Chris Novak: Duke, Nevada, Villanova, UNC

Julian Mitchell: Duke, Michigan, Virginia, Kentucky

Zach Remelius: Duke, Michigan, Virginia, North Carolina

Niesha Middlebrooks: Duke, Michigan, Virginia, North Carolina

Who do you have winning it all?

Robert O’Neill: Duke

Matthew Gelenites: Duke in a rematch

Chris Novak: Tarrrrrr… Heeeeeeeels…

Julian Mitchell: Virginia

Zach Remelius: The confetti falls on Roy Williams and North Carolina

Niesha Middlebrooks: I love Roy Williams and the Tar Heels, but I think Zion Williamson is an incredible player and will help the Blue Devils pull out the win.