The first two games of the First Four took place on Tuesday night, with the Indiana Hoosiers and Texas Southern punching their tickets to the full portion of the Big Dance, so we wanted to get the staff together and discuss some thoughts about the NCAA Tournament.
We talked Badgers, obviously, but also got into some other teams in the tournament and talked about teams and players that could surprise people over the first weekend. A lot of these clowns are high on Vermont! Vermont ain’t getting past Arkansas in the first round, idiots!
Anyways, here are our thoughts!
Let’s talk Badgers first. How do you see their first round matchup against Colgate going? If they win, who would you rather play in the next round, Iowa State or LSU?
Ryan: I think Wisconsin will edge out Colgate in a close-ish matchup. Last time Wisconsin and Colgate met, Wisconsin won by 27, but I don’t think that will be the case this time around. Colgate shoots 40 percent from three, which will keep it closer. Between ISU and LSU, I would rather see ISU in the round of 32. However, I think LSU will be the one advancing.
J.J.: Colgate is always something of a spooky sleeper team come March. They shoot the ball well, play an unusually up-tempo pace, and have prior tournament experience. Ultimately, I think the Badgers comfort against the Raiders will depend on the level and availability of Johnny Davis. If Davis is healthy and can give an unhindered, full-game performance, the Badgers should roll to victory as Colgate struggles to contain him and match his production. If Davis is limited, and the bulk of the scoring falls on more streaky shooters like Brad Davison? I see Wisconsin being prone to runs by the Raiders and could fall victim to an upset scare.
ISU/LSU is a strange one because LSU has the unique factor of having lost their coach right before the tournament. There’s no sample size to determine if this will hinder their usually relentless defense or motivate them to come out swinging. Iowa State is another interesting team, in that their early season resume was fantastic, but seem to falter late on. Ultimately, I’d rather chance it against the currently slumping Cyclones than the Tigers.
Tyler: I think Wisconsin will win if they can avoid a major lapse in scoring. Colgate is a team that can knock it down from deep so you either have to defend well or score with them. I think the Badgers can do a bit of both, and I think they’ll be able to survive but I do see it being a competitive game much like every Wisconsin game all season.
I’d rather see LSU I think? Will Wade was fired so either that will fire them up or...they’ll be checked out. I don’t think they survive against Iowa State though. I expect to see the Cyclones if Wisconsin moves on.
Drew: I’ve been doing wayyyyyy too much reading on Colgate to the point where I’ve convinced myself that they are equal parts the Golden State Warriors but also my fraternity’s intramural team that had a game on St. Patrick’s Day one year and most of the team was hammered. Anyways, I think Wisconsin will win (and cover the spread) but it’ll probably be close in the first half.
As for the potential second round matchup? I think the Badgers would be happy to see either team, quite frankly, but for selfish reasons I hope they play Iowa State because that’s where my sister-in-law went to school and that would be fun.
How far do you have Wisconsin going?
Ryan: Final Four.
J.J.: I agree with Tyler. I think Wisconsin received a favorable draw, but I worry that Auburn has to find their rhythm again eventually after a couple weeks of looking vulnerable. I’ll hedge my bets on Colgate and LSU both being sleeper upset teams by sending them out in the Sweet 16.
Tyler: I have them losing to Auburn in the Sweet 16 but I could see this team making a run to the Final Four or bowing out first round. It’s a crapshoot. I’ll split the difference.
Drew: I don’t think I’m out of line by saying I predict Wisconsin to win the whole thing, possibly by the greatest scoring margin in tournament history. I have actually picked Wisconsin to win it all because one year it’ll happen and I don’t want to miss out!
Who do you have coming out of the Midwest Region? Wisconsin? Or are you a coward?
Ryan: Coward? I am no coward. I am probably an idiot, but I am no coward. I think Wisconsin will make it to the Final Four. Wisconsin played a tough schedule all season long and never lost back-to-back games and won arguably one of the toughest conferences in college basketball. Then again, like Tyler, I could also see a version of this where Wisconsin loses to Colgate too…I’ve been a fan long enough to know that anything is possible.
J.J.: Kansas. I just can’t trust Wisconsin enough until we know Davis is healthy and Auburn hasn’t proven that they could sustain their hot January/February streak into the home stretch yet. The Jayhawks have been something of a disappointing pick in recent years relative to their blue blood status, but I think they’re the safest and most consistent team that also has final four level firepower in the Midwest region.
Tyler: I have Auburn coming out of the Midwest regional. I think they have the length and talent to be a team that will be hard to beat. They’ve been inconsistent at times, but they have a lot of talent and are tough to slow when they are playing well.
Drew: The Badgers, duh. Wisconsin got a pretty swell draw (making up for the MULTIPLE times they’ve been screwed over in the seeding process) and I think Davis is locked in to win a few of these games by himself. It would also be amazing for Wisconsin to make the Final Four because everyone would be so mad about it.
Who are your Final Four teams? Who do you have winning it all?
Ryan: Gonzaga, Baylor, Villanova and Wisconsin. I think Gonzaga will win it all.
J.J.: Gonzaga, Kentucky, Tennessee, Kansas. I usually change my national title pick 3-4 times before the games tip off, but right now I’m on Kentucky.
Tyler: Gonzaga, Kentucky, Arizona, Auburn…. I have a Kentucky winning it all. Gross!
Drew: Texas Tech, Baylor, Villanova, Wisconsin with the Badgers beating my other alma mater in the Final Four and then taking down the Red Raiders in the final!
Give me one surprise Sweet 16 team and one breakout player of the tournament who we’ll all be talking about after the first weekend.
Ryan: New Mexico State and I think the breakout player will be Johnny Davis. He didn’t look all too happy when Wisconsin was announced on Sunday and I don’t think it was him being upset about Wisconsin playing in Milwaukee, I think it was just him totally locked in.
J.J.: Vermont. They have plenty of firepower on offense mixed with more defensive stability than some other popular upset picks. I’d keep an eye on Ryan Davis for the Catamounts, he leads the team in both points and rebounds per game, and if Vermont makes a run expect him to be front and center.
Tyler: South Dakota State or Vermont. Both are going to the Sweet 16. Both teams knock it down from deep and if either catch fire they’ll be playing on the second weekend. Book it.
Drew: I’ve got a handful of surprise teams in the Sweet 16 (including South Dakota State) but I’d like to focus on Chattanooga. Lamont Paris’ squad has been excellent this year and I like the Mocs to shock Illinois in round one and then beat Houston after that. Chattanooga isn’t a big team, so Kofi Cockburn will get his, but they have all five guys crash the boards, especially on the offensive end, and finish well around the rim.
Look for Malachi Smith to have a big first weekend for the Mocs. He averaged over 20 points per game during the regular season and I expect him to average more than that in these first two games.
I also like Davidson to make the Sweet 16 by beating Duke and ending Coach K’s career.
Will J.J.’s sister (a Rutgers soccer commit if you don’t remember) talk to him if Notre Dame beats the Scarlet Knights in their First Four game?
Ryan: I think the length of time without talking will depend on how J.J. approaches the win…
J.J.: The real battle will be winning my other sister over. She’s only ten, and getting her in my camp at such a crucial juncture means she could be a major long-term add.
Tyler: I don’t dare speak on family matters, but that seems like a tough conversation come Thanksgiving. Go Rutgers (moneyline) baby!
Drew: If Rutgers wins, we will let J.J.’s sister tweet one (1) embarrassing thing about him from the B5Q account.