My Picks:16. New Orleans over 16. Mount St. Mary's
11. USC over 11. Providence
1. Villanova over 16. New Orleans
8. Wisconsin over 9. Virginia Tech
5. Virginia over 12. UNC Wilmington
4. Florida over 13. East Tennessee St
6. SMU over 11. USC
3. Baylor over 14. New Mexico State
10. Marquette over 7. South Carolina
2. Duke over 15. Troy
1. Villanova over 8. Wisconsin
5. Virginia over 4. Florida
3. Baylor over 6. SMU
2. Duke over 10. Marquette
1. Villanova over 5. Virginia
2. Duke over 3. Baylor
2. Duke over 1. Villanova
This is the Region Of Death: It's become an annual tradition that the overall #1 seed earns the Region of Death. I'm not exactly sure what the point of the overall #1 seed designation is if you're going to give them arguably the Big Ten's best team as your 8 seed, two Top 10 Pomeroy teams in the 4/5 game, and the most talented roster in the nation as your 2 seed. Villanova might be the best team in the country, but it's awfully hard to pick them through to the Final Four simply because their schedule is so brutal compared to what a team like North Carolina gets to see.
Don't fall for the 12/13 seed hype: UNC-Wilmington and East Tennessee State are both popular upset picks, but the fact is that neither is higher than 60th in Pomeroy, and both struggled against major conference opposition this season. With two truly elite teams in Virginia and Florida there, I'd recommend taking chalk.
SMU is a tough team to figure out: They've gotten into a groove in conference play, but just how good was the AAC this season, exactly? Is it possible that part of SMU's dominance was simply due to the lack of top end athleticism in the league (aside from Cincinnati)? The fact that they only basically play six players is a concern against an opponent as physical and big as Baylor that is going to grind on them and wear them out. As good as SMU's computer numbers are, the personnel edge has to go to Baylor there.
Run away from South Carolina: Always stay away from the wildly over-seeded team, and no team was more over-seeded in this year's bracket than South Carolina. They are 3-7 vs Pomeroy Tier A/B opponents since January 20th, with their top winning in that stretch coming at Mississippi State. They defend well, but their offense is ugly, as they shot just 33.4% on three-pointers and were dead last in the SEC in 2P% in conference play. Unless they utterly dominate the glass, they're going to lose to Marquette.
Go with the most talented roster: And that is Duke. Now that Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles, in particular, are healthy and playing well, Duke has the most talented roster in the nation. They have played as well as any team over the last month and a half. And even if you think that Villanova is a slightly stronger team than Duke, the fact is that Duke has a significantly easier path to the Elite 8, with Baylor being the only team that is really going to scare them. So unless you think Villanova is the significantly better team, you should take Duke to the Final Four.