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NCAA Men’s Tournament Picks: Proceed With Caution

My picks ... they were not so good in 2022.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-National Championship-Kansas vs North Carolina
Will Kansas repeat? Who knows? That’s the joy of the next three weeks.
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Before I get to my picks, which I put very little effort or thought into because, well, you’ll see, it’s time to recap how well I did as a bracketologist.

Honestly, my performance was extremely disappointing to me personally, since I was coming off two of my best years in terms of seeding. Per the Bracket Matrix, I finished a ghastly 210th out of 229 tracked brackets. My Paymon score of 337 was 45 points lower than the 382 2023 champ Jake Liker accumulated.

An explanation from the Bracket Matrix:

So, where did I do poorly this year?

  • Missing one team is par for the course, an annual tradition at this point, particularly since the profile near the cut line are always flawed in different ways. Still, putting Rutgers in and not Pitt put me three points in the hole before moving to seeding.
  • I had my best three seeding years in 2019, 2021, and 2022, nailing a minimum of 42 teams’ seeds exactly in all three years. Last year was my best, as I seeded 45 of 68 correctly. This year, that number dropped to 38, which was typical of seasons before 2019.
  • I did peg 24 teams seeds within one seed line, which was an improvement upon 21 in 2022 and 18 in both 2019 and 2021. However, that means I only got 62 teams within one seed line this year, after getting 66 in 2022!
  • I missed five teams by two or more seed lines: 4 by two lines (Boise State, Florida Atlantic, Maryland, and Texas A&M) and one by three lines (Penn State).

Not optimal. If I do this again in 2024, I’ll have to be a bit sharper.

Now, on to my picks. When you combine last year’s choices with this year’s bracketology, you will probably wonder why anyone ever asks me anything about college basketball.

My 2022 bracket was horrawful.

  • Even though typical brackets don’t include the First Four, my 2-2 mark there was a harbinger of things to come.
  • My first round picks went 18-14, with my record dropping to 25-23 after only picking seven of the Sweet 16.
  • Things just got worse from there, as I only got one Elite Eight team right (Villanova) and no Final Four teams—a pathetic 1-14 record after the first two rounds, meaning my record for the 64-team bracket was 26-37.

So, yeah, I’m not including any bracket analysis here. I’m just leaving my picks (in images and text below) and calling it a season.

Starting at the top left side of the bracket ...

South Region
First Four winner: (16) Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
First Round winners: (1) Alabama, (9) West Virginia, (12) Charleston, (13) Furman, (6) Creighton, (3) Baylor, (7) Missouri, (2) Arizona
Second Round winners: (1) Alabama, (12) Charleston, (6) Creighton, (2) Arizona
Sweet 16 winners: (1) Alabama, (2) Arizona

Moving on to the upper right side ...

Midwest Region
First Four winner: (11) Pittsburgh
First Round winners: (1) Houston, (8) Iowa, (12) Drake, (13) Kent State, (11) Pittsburgh, (3) Xavier, (10) Penn State, (2) Texas
Second Round winners: (1) Houston, (12) Drake, (3) Xavier, (2) Texas
Sweet 16 winners: (1) Houston, (2) Texas

Moving down to the lower right quadrant ...

West Region
First Four winner: (11) Nevada
First Round winners: (1) Kansas, (8) Arkansas, (12) VCU, (4) UConn, (6) TCU, (3) Gonzaga, (10) Boise State, (2) UCLA
Second Round winners: (1) Kansas, (4) UConn, (3) Gonzaga, (2) UCLA
Sweet 16 winners: (4) UConn, (3) Gonzaga

Now the lower left side ...

South Region
First Four winner: (16) Texas Southern
First Round winners: (1) Purdue, (8) Memphis, (5) Duke, (4) Tennessee, (6) Kentucky, (3) Kansas State, (7) Michigan State, (2) Marquette
Second Round winners: (8) Memphis, (5) Duke, (3) Kansas State, (2) Marquette
Sweet 16 winners: (8) Memphis, (2) Marquette

Finally, the Elite 8 on ...

Elite 8 winners: (South 2) Arizona, (East 8) Memphis, (Midwest 2) Texas, (West 3) Gonzaga
Final 4 winners: (South 2) Arizona, (West 3) Gonzaga
National Champ: Gonzaga

Bet the mortgage or this month’s rent money against the Bulldogs.