THE SUPER COMPUTER PICKS MARCH MADNESS

Thursday, March 16, 2017

EAST REGION

The Seeds: 1. Villanova, 2. Duke, 3. Baylor, 4. Florida, 5. Virginia, 6. SMU, 7. South Carolina, 8. Wisconsin, 9. Virginia Tech, 10. Marquette, 11. USC/Providence, 12. UNC-Wilmington, 13. East Tennessee State, 14. New Mexico State, 15. Troy, 16. Mount St Mary’s

Player to Watch:
Josh Hart, Villanova

The National Player of the Year candidate has a high motor on both ends of the floor, which sets the tone for how the rest of the team plays. Hart is the type of player who can be a difference maker in a game taking less than 10 shots. Few guys in college basketball can do that, he is a true leader and showed it throughout this season and during last year’s run to the NCAA title.

Dark Horse:
SMU

If you haven’t heard of Semi Ojeleye, you should sit down and watch the Mustangs play. A transfer from Duke, this 6’7” forward can score in a variety of ways on a team that has won 11 in a row and is brimming with confidence heading into the tourney.

Biggest first-round upset:
No. 13 East Tennessee State over No. 4 Florida

T.J. Cromer is a volume scorer who can put up numbers against anyone. Transfers Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Indiana) and Tevin Glass (Wichita State) give the Bucs some muscle inside. Plus, the Super Computer’s favorite two players ever to play in the NCAA’s came from ETSU Keith “Mr.” Jennings and Tim Smith (look them up). This one is a no-brainer.

First-Round Winners: Villanova, Wisconsin, Virginia, East Tennessee State, Baylor, SMU, Marquette, Duke

Quarterfinal Winners:
Villanova, Virginia, SMU, Duke

Regional Final:
Villanova, Duke

Champion:
Villanova

Duke has tons of talent and can score with the best of them. I think not having a true point guard hurts the Blue Devils down the stretch in a close game. Jalen Brunson has been rock solid all year for Villanova and his ability to control the tempo will lead the Wildcats back to the Final Four.

WEST REGION

The Seeds: 1. Gonzaga, 2. Arizona, 3. Florida State, 4. West Virginia, 5. Notre Dame, 6. Maryland, 7. St. Mary’s, 8. Northwestern, 9. Vanderbilt, 10. VCU, 11. Xavier, 12. Princeton, 13. Bucknell, 14. Florida Gulf Coast, 15. North Dakota, 16. South Dakota State

Player to Watch:
Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame

Colson is a rebounding machine that can score both inside and also step out from beyond the arc to knock down shots. If he stays out of foul trouble, the Irish will be a tough team to eliminate.

Dark Horse:
St. Mary’s

The Gaels get some flack for not being as battle-tested as teams from the Power 5 conferences. Joe Rahon provides stability and toughness from the point guard spot. Jock Landale (just a cool name in general) and Calvin Hermanson give the Gaels a 1-2 scoring punch up front that few will be able to match up with.

Biggest First-Round Upset:
None

First-Round Winners:
Gonzaga, Northwestern, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Florida State, Maryland, St. Mary’s, Arizona

Quarterfinal Winners:
Gonzaga, Notre Dame, Florida State, St. Mary’s

Regional Final:
Gonzaga vs. Florida State

Champion:
Gonzaga

Despite some debate about the Zags getting a No. 1 seed, they are by far the most complete and the most consistent team in this region. Size? Check. Speed? Check. Depth? Check. Most importantly, team defense? Check. Zags will get a test from Notre Dame before cruising to an easy win over Florida State to reach the program’s first-ever Final Four.

MIDWEST REGION
The Seeds:
1. Kansas, 2. Louisville, 3. Oregon, 4. Purdue, 5. Iowa State, 6. Creighton, 7. Michigan, 8. Miami, 9. Michigan State, 10. Oklahoma State, 11. Rhode Island, 12. Nevada, 13. Vermont, 14. Iona, 15. Jacksonville State, 16. North Carolina Central/UC Davis

Player to Watch:
Caleb Swanigan, Purdue

Frank Mason would also be a good choice here but I’m going with Swanigan just so Cory Doviak reads this. Love affairs don’t go much deeper than the one Doviak has for Swanigan. I mean I get it; he’s all but a guaranteed double-double every time he steps on the floor. If the Boilermakers are to go anywhere, Swanigan will need to be the best player on the court every time. Once Purdue gets eliminated, Doviak will no longer watch the tournament.

Dark Horse:
Rhode Island

The Rams are playing their best and are the healthiest they’ve been all year, just at the right time. Creighton hasn’t been the same since Melvin Watson Jr. went down with a season-ending knee injury. Danny Hurley has them playing inspired ball and the Rams will ride that wave into the second weekend of the tournament.

Biggest First-Round Upset:
No. 14 Iona over No. 3 Oregon

The loss of center Chris Boucher to an ACL tear will be a bigger loss than the Ducks realize. As talented as of a starting five as any team in the country, depth is an issue. Iona’s Jordan Washington has been a consistent force all year and will carry the Gaels to the first-round's biggest upset in terms of seeds.

First-Round Winners:
Kansas, Miami, Iowa State, Purdue, Rhode Island, Iona, Oklahoma State, Louisville

Quarterfinal Winners:
Kansas, Purdue, Rhode Island, Louisville

Regional Final:
Kansas vs. Louisville

Champion:
Louisville

The Cardinals will force every one of their opponents to play at their pace as a slew of upsets in this region give them an easier path to the Midwest final. Kansas has been a very good team all year long with guard Frank Mason being one of the best players in the country. But with only one post player in the Jayhawks’ rotation, that could be a problem in a physical game that is called tight. The longer a game stays close, the more Louisville has the advantage by wearing the opponents’ legs down with constant full-court pressure.

SOUTH REGION

The Seeds: 1. North Carolina, 2. Kentucky, 3. UCLA, 4. Butler, 5. Minnesota, 6. Cincinnati, 7. Dayton, 8. Arkansas, 9. Seton Hall, 10. Wichita State, 11. Kansas State, 12. Middle Tennessee State, 13. Winthrop, 14. Kent State, 15. Northern Kentucky, 16. Texas Southern

Player to Watch:
Malik Monk, Kentucky

Tons of players to choose from in this bracket. Monk is a rare player who can single-handedly shoot the Wildcats in or out of a game. He can heat up or cool off at any time. But if he’s on, which he often is, he can carry Kentucky through this top-heavy bracket.

Dark Horse:
Cincinnati

The Bearcats have balance on both ends of the floor and a senior leader in Troy Caupain, who has been clutch throughout his career in a Cincy uniform. It will be no easy task to get through this bracket, but they have the talent to do so and can fly under the radar with all the focus on UNC, Kentucky, and UCLA.

Biggest First-Round Upset:
No. 12 Middle Tennessee State over No. 5 Minnesota

This is just a bad matchup for a young Minnesota team that has overachieved all season. MTSU returns six players who played in the first-round upset over No. 2 seed Michigan State last year. That includes Giddy Potts, all-time fave of the Super Computer. The Red Raiders have won 20 of their past 21 games and are out to show that last year’s win over Michigan State was no fluke.

First-Round Winners:
UNC, Seton Hall, Middle Tennessee State, Butler, Cincinnati, UCLA, Dayton, Kentucky

Quarterfinal Winners:
UNC, Middle Tennessee State, Cincinnati, Kentucky

Regional Final:
UNC vs. Kentucky

Champion:
UNC

North Carolina and Kentucky played in a classic regular-season game earlier this season, won by Kentucky 103-100. But the Wildcats needed 47 points and some late threes from Malik Monk to pull out the win. Watch for UNC to deny him the ball more and also get the ball down low more to Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks inside in another trip to the Final Four for the Tar Heels.

FINAL FOUR
Gonzaga beats Villanova, 79-65
UNC beats Louisville, 91-85

Gonzaga exploits a big size advantage over Villanova inside with 7’1” Przemek Karnowski dominating inside and showing why the Super Computer calls him the Pole with Soul as he keeps the Zags dancing into the championship game. 

Joel Berry and Justin Jackson will handle the full-court pressure enough to get some easy transition buckets that will help the Tar Heels to a showdown between No. 1 seeds.

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Gonzaga beats UNC, 82-71

If there is a year where a mid-major can break through and win a national title, this is it. Gonzaga has been a juggernaut all season with only one loss (against a BYU team who played outstanding just to beat them). All five starters average in double-figures and the team shoots a ridiculous 51.8% from the floor for the season. Jordan Matthews will be the X-factor from the outside as the Zags hoist the trophy when all is said and done.

As long as I don’t have to hear ‘The slipper still fits!’ from the announcers every time there is an upset, I should be ok. I’m just a computer though, what do I know?