The Cavalier’s March Madness Predictions + Tips on Filling Out Your Bracket
March 16, 2022
The best week in sports has finally arrived, and it is now time to do what 70 million other Americans do every year but never completely correct. From Selection Sunday until the first round begins on Thursday sports fans across the country are able to make their own predictions and no one will be able to disagree with them, because in reality, none of us really know.
There is a very high possibility that ESPN’s College Basketball analysts finish with a worse bracket than your grandmother who picked her bracket based on which mascot would win in a fight. However, to some contrary belief, there is a method to the madness. Before I start on my own predictions, here are some keys to filling out your bracket if you are new.
If you would like to compete in the Journalism bracket group, here is the link: Journalism Bracket Group
Tip #1: Put at least 2 top eight teams (one or two seeds) in your final four.
- The seeds are not randomly generated, these are the best teams and will usually prove it in march.
Tip #2: Pick some early-round upsets.
- 5 vs. 12 and 6 vs. 11 upsets happen multiple times every year, so don’t be afraid to pick them. Maybe even advance one of those 11’s to the Sweet Sixteen if you’re feeling dangerous.
Tip #3: Pick at least one double-digit seed to reach the Sweet 16.
- Picking your cinderella team is probably the most fun part of filling out a bracket. It’s even more fun when they make a run, so choose a team you’ve never heard of to win a game or two, just not a 15 or 16 seed.
Tip #4: Your National Champion needs to be a 1, 2, or 3 seed.
- A top 3 seed wins the tournament 89 percent of the time, so it would be wise to cut off your cinderella runs before the Final Four. Five out of the last six champions are one seeds, with Baylor in 2021 and Virginia in 2019 being the two most recent winners.
On to my predictions, do not trust these predictions more than your own. This is not gambling advice. However, my bracket is a bit more trustworthy this year as the 2019 National Champion Virginia did not make the field. This is not gambling advice, trust your instincts.
#1 Gonzaga vs. #16 Georgia State
If there is any game you should feel confident about in your bracket, it should be this one. Do not ruin your bracket by picking against Gonzaga here. Expect Gonzaga to win in a rout.
Prediction: Gonzaga 93 – Georgia State 60.
#8 Boise State vs. #9 Memphis
The 8 vs, 9 game is always among the most difficult to pick. Memphis was a preseason top 10 team in the country before falling all the way down to a 9 seed. Boise State is coming off of a Mountain West conference title and will be playing in front of a huge home crowd in Portland. I like the Broncos in this one.
Prediction: Boise State 72-Memphis 67.
#5 UConn vs. #12 New Mexico State
Although this will be a very common upset pick, I like the Huskies to move on to the second round, even after a Big East tournament loss to Villanova.
Prediction: UConn 75- New Mexico State 64.
#4 Arkansas vs. #13 Vermont
I see this as one of the most interesting matchups of the Round of 64. Arkansas got its marquee win defeating then #1 Auburn, and the Catamounts just drove right through the America East conference on its way to March Madness. Arkansas will advance, but narrowly.
Prediction: Arkansas 73 – Vermont 70.
#6 Alabama vs. #11 Rutgers/Notre Dame
In the first four, Rutgers will take on Notre Dame who really should not have made the tournament over Texas A&M. I will take Rutgers to beat Notre Dame in the First Four matchup and then also to defeat Alabama in the Round of 64.
Prediction: Rutgers 82-Alabama 76.
#3 Texas Tech – #14 Montana State
Texas Tech is very experienced in the NCAA Tournament and is one of the best defensive teams in the country in scoring defense. The Red Raiders will be a difficult matchup for multiple teams, including Montana State.
Prediction: Texas Tech 80 – Montana State 59.
#7 Michigan State vs. #10 Davidson
Davidson received an at-large bid after losing to Richmond in the Atlantic 10 Final, which dropped their seed a lot. The Wildcats shoot it very well, but will not be able to handle the physicality of the Michigan State Spartans.
Prediction: Michigan State 68 – Davidson 61.
#1 Gonzaga vs. #8 Boise State
Once again, Gonzaga will dominate their opponent in the Broncos as they will have no match for Timme and Holmgren down low. Take the Zags to run away with this one.
Prediction: Gonzaga 83 – Boise State 62.
#5 UConn vs. #4 Arkansas
After a narrow victory over Vermont, Arkansas is able to defeat UConn to advance to the sweet 16. The Razorbacks are battle-tested as they played a very difficult schedule this season.
Prediction: Arkansas 77 – UConn 69.
#3 Texas Tech vs. #11 Rutgers
The Scarlet Knights are led by one of the nation’s best players in Ron Harper Jr., but Texas Tech’s swarming defense will be overwhelming to Harper and will be essentially taken out of the game. Take the Red Raiders to advance to the Sweet 16.
#2 Duke vs. #7 Michigan State
In Coach K’s final season, he is once again matched up with fellow Hall Of Fame coach Tom Izzo. In their last NCAA tournament matchup, Izzo and the Spartans sent Zion Williamson home in the elite 8. However, this time the Spartans end Duke’s title hopes again and send Coach K home for the final time in a Spartan upset win.
Prediction: Michigan State 82 – Duke 76.
#1 Gonzaga vs. #4 Arkansas
In the Bulldogs’ first difficult matchup of the tournament, Arkansas provides them with some challenges early in the game. But, Gonzaga proves to be too much for the Razorbacks as they advance to the Elite 8 again.
Prediction: Gonzaga 78 – Arkansas 65.
#3 Texas Tech vs #7 Michigan State
Fresh off of an upset over the Duke Blue Devils, the Spartans are able to continue their upset run over a very good Texas Tech team with lots of experience.
Prediction: Michigan State 71 – Texas Tech 65.
#1 Gonzaga vs. #7 Michigan State
Here is where the Spartans’ cinderella run will finally come to an end. Michigan State will not be able to defend the Bulldogs’ size.
Prediction: Gonzaga 82 – Michigan State 74.
#1 Baylor vs #16 Norfolk State
This is also a no-brainer. Take the Bears to advance to the Round of 32.
Prediction: Baylor 83 – Norfolk State 58.
#8 North Carolina vs #9 Marquette
North Carolina suffered a surprising loss to eventual champion Virginia Tech in the ACC Tournament. Playing through All-ACC First Team center Armando Bacot and star forward Brady Manek, the Tar Heels will advance to the second round for a date with Baylor.
Prediction: North Carolina 78 – Marquette 67.
#5 Saint Mary’s vs #12 Indiana
Indiana barely snuck into the tournament as one of the last teams in after a great performance in the Big 10 Tournament. However, the WCC runner-up Saint Mary’s will defeat Indiana in the round of 64.
Prediction: Saint Mary’s 71 – Indiana 64.
#4 UCLA vs. #13 Akron
After a Final Four run last year, the Bruins are poised to make another deep run in the tournament. They will quickly beat Akron in the first round.
Prediction: UCLA 76 – Akron 58.
#6 Texas vs. #11 Virginia Tech
The Hokies made a surprising run in Brooklyn to receive an auto-bid into the NCAA Tournament. However, I think the Hokies have run out of magic and will shoot very poorly in a loss to Texas.
Prediction: Texas 76 – Virginia Tech 67.
#3 Purdue vs. #14 Yale
Purdue is one of the best offensive teams in the country and will dominate Yale easily in the round. Not a game to pick an upset.
Prediction: Purdue 89 – Yale 62.
#7 Murray State vs. #10 San Francisco
The Racers went 30-2 this season and will continue their dominance into the first round against San Francisco.
Prediction: Murray State 77 – San Francisco 72.
#2 Kentucky vs. #15 St. Petersburg
Kentucky is one of the best teams in the country and will dominate their early opponents.
Prediction: Kentucky 90 – St. Petersburg 52.
#1 Baylor vs. #8 North Carolina
Here is one of my biggest upset picks in the entire tournament. I believe North Carolina will defeat the highest seed in the region in a shocking turn of events. The Bears will not be able to defend Bacot down low and will go home early.
Prediction: North Carolina 85 – Baylor 78.
#4 UCLA vs. #5 St. Mary’s
The Gaels of St. Mary will be demolished at the hands of UCLA in the Round of 32. UCLA will match up with North Carolina in the Sweet 16.
Prediction: UCLA 82 – St. Mary’s 62.
#6 Texas vs. #3 Purdue
Purdue will once again use their great shooting to advance to the Sweet 16 in a shootout against Texas.
Prediction: Purdue 88 – Texas 78.
#2 Kentucky vs. #7 Murray State
Kentucky will once again roll through their matchup ending Murray State’s run in the Round of 32.
Prediction: Kentucky 78 – Murray State 65.
#8 North Carolina vs. #4 UCLA
After a huge upset against Baylor, UNC will come out flat against the Bruins who will defeat the Tar Heels to advance to the Sweet 16.
Prediction: UCLA 75 – North Carolina 65.
#2 Kentucky vs #3 Purdue
Kentucky will prove to be too good defensively for Purdue to get anything going on the offensive side of the ball.
Prediction: Kentucky 79 – Purdue 65.
#2 Kentucky vs #4 UCLA
In one of the best games of the tournament, Kentucky and UCLA battle it out for a trip to New Orleans. Kentucky once again prevails in overtime and sends UCLA home.
Prediction: Kentucky 88 – Purdue 80.
#1 Arizona vs. #16 Wright St./Bryant
Another easy pick here. Don’t pick a number one seed to lose in the first round.
Prediction: Arizona 88 – Wright State 56.
#8 Seton Hall vs #9 TCU
Although the Pirates have played better than TCU this season, I like the Horned Frogs to make a 9 over 8 upset. TCU is one of the best rebounding teams in the country and will beat Seton Hall on the boards.
Prediction: TCU 75 – Seton Hall 67.
#5 Houston vs. #12 UAB
In one of the most interesting matchups of the Round of 64, Houston’s elite defense matches up with one of the best three-point shooting teams in the field in UAB. The offense always outdoes defense in March. Give me the Blazers in an upset.
Prediction: UAB 78 – Houston 72.
#4 Illinois vs. #13 Chattanooga
Another popular upset pick here, but Illinois will easily despatch the Mocs in the first round.
Prediction: Illinois 76 – Chattanooga 60.
#6 Colorado State vs. #11 Michigan
The Wolverines barely snuck into the tournament despite losing 14 games this season. The Wolverines’ experience against ranked teams will get the win against Colorado State.
Prediction: Michigan 76 – Colorado State 64.
#3 Tennessee vs. #14 Longwood
The Volunteers are very under seeded in this tournament and are poised to make a run to the Final Four. Take Tennesee in this one.
Prediction: Tennessee 78 – Longwood 60.
#7 Ohio State vs. #10 Loyola Chicago
Never bet against Sister Jean in March. Take the Ramblers to beat the Buckeyes in Round 1.
Prediction: Loyola Chicago 82 – Ohio State 75.
#2 Villanova vs. #15 Delaware State
The Wildcats shoot at an elite level and will easily advance past the Blue Hens.
Prediction: Villanova 86 – Delaware State 68.
#1 Arizona vs. #9 TCU
Led by Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona’s offense will score enough to outdo a good defensive and rebounding team in TCU.
Prediction: Arizona 76 – TCU 64.
#4 Illinois vs #12 UAB
Unfortunately, UAB’s run will come to an end against Kofi Cockburn and the Fighting Illini.
Prediction: Illinois 75 – UAB 66.
#3 Tennessee vs #11 Michigan
Even after an upset in the first round, Michigan will not be able to guard Tennessee on the perimeter.
Prediction: Michigan 78 – Tennessee 62.
#2 Villanova vs. #10 Loyola Chicago
As much as I want to advance the Ramblers into the next round, Villanova will beat Loyola Chicago to advance to the Sweet 16.
Prediction: Villanova 73 – Loyola Chicago 67.
#1 Arizona vs. #4 Illinois
Arizona offensively is too much for Illinois and the Wildcats will defeat the Illini to have a chance to go to their first Final Four since 2001.
Prediction: Arizona 79 – Illinois 65.
#2 Villanova vs. #3 Tennessee
After barely getting past Loyola Chicago, Villanova will come out flat and go home early in the Sweet 16.
Prediction: Tennessee 76 – Villanova 64.
#1 Arizona vs. #3 Tennessee
Here is where Arizona’s run will finally come to an end. Tennessee will advance to their first-ever Final Four.
Prediction: Tennessee 75 – Arizona 72.
#1 Kansas vs. #16 Texas Southern
Player of the Year Candidate Ochai Agbaji will lead the Jayhawks to an easy win over Texas Southern.
Prediction: Kansas 86 – Texas Southern 56.
#8 San Diego State vs. #9 Creighton
San Diego State is the second-best defensive team in the country behind Houston. The Aztecs will be able to advance to the second round against Creighton, a team that scored 48 points in their last game.
Prediction: San Diego State 67 – Creighton 60.
#5 Iowa vs. #12 Richmond
The Hawkeyes are led by First Team All American Keagen Murray and will easily roll past the Spiders in the first round.
Prediction: Iowa 78 – Richmond 62
#4 Providence vs. #13 South Dakota State
Providence is known for its great big man play and interior defense. But, South Dakota State shoots nearly 46% percent from beyond the arc. The Friars will not be able to keep up with the three-point shooting of SDSU. Give me the Jackrabbits.
Prediction: South Dakota State 83 – Providence 76.
#6 LSU vs. #11 Iowa State
The Tigers just parted ways with their head coach, so I will take the Cyclones in a not-so upset.
Prediction: Iowa State 68 – LSU 60.
#3 Wisconsin vs. #14 Colgate
Toothpaste jokes aside, I think Colgate actually has a chance to upset Wisconsin in this matchup. However, there doesn’t seem to be enough upside as Wisconsin could likely make a run. I’ll take the badgers in a close one
Prediction: Wisconsin 76 – Colgate 70.
#7 USC vs. #10 Miami
Miami has lots of great wing shooters led by Kameron McGusty who will lead them to a first-round win over the Trojans.
Prediction: Miami 82 – USC 75.
#2 Auburn vs. #15 Jacksonville State
Auburn will easily win this matchup and advance to the next round.
Prediction: Auburn 80 – Jacksonville State 59.
#1 Kansas vs. #8 San Diego State
This is perhaps Kansas’ most difficult game on their road to the Final Four. The Aztecs’ swarming defense will challenge Kansas and force them to hit big shots down the stretch. Kansas escapes with a close win.
Prediction: Kansas 76 – San Diego State 72.
#5 Iowa vs. #13 South Dakota State
Did somebody say Cinderella? The South Dakota State Jackrabbits are the underdog of this year’s tournament and advance to the Sweet 16 over Iowa.
Prediction: South Dakota State 73 – Iowa 72.
#3 Wisconsin vs #11 Iowa State
I think the Cyclones will compete with Wisconsin all the way through but the Badgers will pull away at the end for a twelve-point victory.
Prediction: Wisconsin 72 – Iowa State 60.
#2 Auburn vs. #10 Miami
Auburn’s size will be too much for Miami’s post players as Auburn gets an easy win against Miami.
Prediction: Auburn 79 – Miami 62.
#1 Kansas vs. #13 South Dakota State
Unfortunately for all basketball fans, Kansas will take out the Jackrabbits after a great run through the first two games.
Prediction: Kansas 92 – South Dakota State 70.
#2 Auburn vs #3 Wisconsin
Auburn will continue their run with a narrow victory over Wisconsin.
Prediction: Auburn 80 – Wisconsin 74.
#1 Kansas vs. #2 Auburn
Auburn builds an early lead and even leads with less than five minutes to play. But Auburn can’t hit their free throws much like their last deep tournament run in 2019. Kansas escapes once again.
Prediction: Kansas 72 – Auburn 68.
#1 Gonzaga vs #2 Kentucky
Although Gonzaga was the #1 overall seed in the tournament, they go home from the Final Four empty-handed once again as the Wildcats advance to the National Championship
Prediction: Kentucky 85 – Gonzaga 81.
#1 Kansas vs #3 Tennessee
In a great matchup, Kansas’ depth is a bit much for the Volunteers, and the Jayhawks advance to play Kentucky in a matchup of Blue Blood programs.
#1 Kansas vs. #2 Kentucky
The tournament ends with the Kentucky Wildcats cutting down the nets for the first time since 2012.
Prediction: Kentucky 87 – Kansas 78.
Thanks for reading through my March Madness predictions, especially if you read through all 2937 words. Hopefully, it will help you win all of your bracket pools, enjoy the tournament and pick upsets, it’s not fun if you don’t.