After two of the craziest days to begin the March Madness NCAA Tournament, we are down to the Round of 32, although some of the teams still remaining have to come as a surprise to everyone, as there are no perfect brackets still alive. We have seen upsets, overtime games and dramatic finishes in two of the best days ever to start the college basketball tournament. Can it top itself as we reach the Round of 32?
Saturday and Sunday – which will technically feature third round games – have some very interesting pairings. Could we see some more upsets take place? It is more than a possibility. it is a guarantee. The difficulty lies in predicting which matchups will spring the upsets. That is why I’m here.
Alright, alright. Yes, I did have the Duke Blue Devils reaching the Elite Eight in one of my brackets. I also have the Iowa State Cyclones advancing to the Final Four in one of my two brackets. Losing Georges Niang will not bode well for that pick. I was also wrong about the North Carolina State Wolfpack upsetting the St. Louis Billikens and the Oklahoma State Cowboys knocking off the Gonzaga Bulldogs. I admit when I’m wrong.
So, obviously, I won’t be wrong again when the Round of 32 tips off on Saturday, right?
Either way, here are my bold predictions and upset picks for the Round of 32, starting in the region that is still home to the overall No. 1 seed, the Florida Gators:
* Believe it or not, I can see the Pittsburgh Panthers finally picking up a big win in the NCAA Tournament and knocking off the Florida Gators. I can see it. I am not predicting it, but I can see it. Pick the Gators in a closer game than others may expect.
* After stumbling down the final month or so, I also see the Syracuse Orange taking out the Dayton Flyers. I don’t care what people say, I’m still not a big believer in the Atlantic-10 Conference.
* In the other two games, take the Kansas Jayhawks over the Stanford Cardinal in a tight one, and go out on a limb and pick Stephen F. Austin to upset the UCLA Bruins. Clearly, this team knows how to win.
* The Arizona Wildcats struggled on Friday, but that does not mean that you should pick them to lose against the Gonzaga Bulldogs, who were the beneficiaries of some awful officiating on Friday. I like the ‘Cats in this one, and it won’t be close.
* The Wisconsin Badgers and Oregon Ducks will put on one of the best shows of the tournament, if you like offense. I like Wisconsin in the end, but it could be close.
* in the other two matchups, look for the Baylor Bears to upset the Creighton Blue Jays and the North Dakota State Bison to continue their upset march and knock off the San Diego State Aztecs. hey, go big or go home, right?
* This may be the most interesting region remaining, with the Virginia Cavaliers taking on a talented Memphis Tigers team on Sunday. I like Memphis to give Virginia a run, but take the Cavs to advance. It may be the last time to pick them to advance.
* The Villanova Wildcats have played rather inconsistent as the season progressed. I am not officially saying that the Connecticut Huskies will upset them, but neither would I be surprised. Take ‘Nova, but don’t be surprised if they fall to the Huskies.
* I also still like the Iowa State Cyclones to knock off the North Carolina Tar Heels with Niang in what should also be a fun game to watch, as well as the Michigan State Spartans to knock off upset-minded Harvard, who be another one-and-done sleeper.
* Is this the region to see the first No. 1 seed to go down? If so, it will not happen on Sunday. The Wichita State Shockers continue to get no respect, but they will earn some when they beat up on the Kentucky Wildcats.
* I also like the Michigan Wolverines to defeat the Texas Longhorns in a game that I refuse to call close. I see Michigan winning this one going away.
* Finally, I am predicting the Tennessee Volunteers will end the Cinderella-run of the Mercer Bears, as UT may be the most dangerous double-digit seed remaining, and the Louisville Cardinals will play much better than they did on Thursday when they eliminate the St. Louis Billikens.