The 2015 NCAA Tournament tips off tonight, and as such, we figured we'd finally weigh in on which teams we believe will be advancing over the next couple of weeks. Kentucky, the odds-on favorite to win it all, takes it home in two of our four brackets. The Arizona Wildcats win the championship in the other two.
Without further ado, here are all four of our brackets, pen-on-paper style.
It's hard to go against Kentucky, but I believe Arizona has what it takes to take the Wildcats down. Arizona is my pick to win it all this year. A few surprises? I like Texas over Notre Dame in the Round of 32, and I like Utah to reach the Final Four out of the South. I have three teams nicknamed the Wildcats reaching the final weekend.
I'm picking Kentucky because, well, it is the best team in the country - by far - and even on a bad shooting night, the Wildcats will dominate the boards and defend well. I like Gonzaga on the opposite side; this is Mark Few's best team and the one that will finally let him break past the Sweet 16. Arizona is long and athletic, and should match up fairly well with John Calipari's squad, but ultimately fall short.
Virginia has been struggling, but I trust their guard play and defense to get it done in a weak East Region. In the title game, Gonzaga will hang with UK for about 30 minutes before the Wildcats' size takes over. Karl Anthony-Towns will be the Most Outstanding Player and Calipari will cut the nets down for the second time.
I have one of the other packs of Wildcats winning the whole thing. Kentucky is the best team in the field, but in a one-game elimination, anything can happen. Arizona has the length, depth and athleticism to take down UK, and they're efficient on offense and defense. I have them knocking off UK before taking down Duke in the final.
The Blue Devils lack depth and have some glaring deficiencies on defense, but their region is manageable and they'll take down Iowa State and then UVa before falling to Arizona. Instead of Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns or Duke's Jahlil Okafor, it will be U of A freshman star and tournament MOP Stanley Johnson cutting down the nets in Indy.
In a bracket contest, I am very tempted to take a team other than Kentucky, because I anticipate most to just ride with the No. 1 overall seed. However, if I am just going with straight predictions, there is no team that is as impressive as John Calipari's bunch. In the West, I like Arizona, one of the only teams that can compare to Kentucky's raw athleticism, to knock off Wisconsin and make a Final Four.
The South is probably the most intriguing region this year, and I like the red-hot Iowa State Cyclones, coming off their wild run through the Big-12 Tournament, to win a high-scoring affair with Duke. The East is a bit perplexing, but I feel most confident in Virginia rounding into form ahead of Villanova, an underwhelming three-seed Oklahoma, and inconsistent Louisville. In the final, I will take Kentucky over Iowa State to complete this crazy undefeated season.
Now you know who we've got - who do you have?