Madness Personified: 2013 NCAA Tournament Predictions

by | March 20, 2013 at 10:40 AM | College Basketball, NCAA Tournament

You’ve heard it before: The teams that should win lose when you least expect it. The sexy sleepers rise to the occasion in regions opposite the ones you picked. Same goes for your Giant Killer, slinging cotton balls instead of stones.

But take a deep breath, bracket junkies. Our “experts” are prescient, better-looking versions of Joe Lunardi. Bank on it. Or don’t. We’re picking with tiger blood in our veins (and keeping that phrase alive). Follow us on the path to Atlanta.

Chris Young, Senior Sports Editor

Final Four: Louisville, Ohio State, Kansas, Miami

Chalky, but these four teams are playing tournament basketball right now. A note of caution on Kansas: everyone loves the potential VCU upset in the Sweet 16, which means you shouldn’t.

Championship: Louisville over Miami

Had Indiana not crashed and burned in the Big Ten tournament semifinals, it would have locked up the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament and taken some of the focus away from the other No. 1s. In particular, the Cardinals. Louisville is the most complete team on the top line, playing its best basketball at the right time. And because that’s true, they were rewarded with locality, having to travel roughly 115 miles to Indianapolis for the heart of the tournament. For intents and purposes, it’s their Dance to lose.

Best 12-5 Upset: Oregon over Oklahoma State

The Cowboys have one of the best backcourts in the country (see Marcus Smart), but the Ducks are grossly under-seeded. Most in your pool will take Cal over UNLV. Take Oregon and impress your colleagues.

Best 10-7 Upset: Cincinnati over Creighton

You love Doug McDermott, therefore, you love the Jays. But I like the Bearcats’ length, stingy style and size around the glass. This one will be a grind, which favors Cincy.

Most Vulnerable 2 Seed: Duke

Ryan Kelly’s return is huge, but Seth Curry isn’t at full strength. Compounding this is the Blue Devils’ draw. Cincinnati or Michigan State (potentially in the Sweet 16) are two teams that could send Duke packing early.

Cinderella: Davidson

The Wildcats’ last lost was to Georgia Southern on January 17. Marquette is a precarious 3 seed (and they burned me last year).

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Jordan Raanan, Sports Editor

Final Four: Duke, Gonzaga, Miami, Georgetown

It’s the year of the No. 2s with Duke, Miami and Georgetown. Gonzaga on the other hand is no longer a dreamer. It’s for real.

Championship: Miami over Gonzaga

I told you the Zags are for real. So are the Hurricanes. They have the backcourt (and a big man) capable of cutting down the nets. Believe it. Miami is officially more than a football school.

Best 12-5 Upset: Mississippi over Wisconsin

Marshall Henderson is my favorite player in the entire tournament. He’s a love-hate kind of guy who plays with emotion and can shoot the lights out.

Best 10-7 Upset: Colorado over Illinois

Is it even really an upset? The Buffaloes and Illini are basically a pick-em for a reason. Give the Pac-12 some respect.

Most Vulnerable 2 Seed: Ohio State

Easy one, considering I have the other three No. 2 seeds in the Final Four. The Buckeyes fall to Notre Dame in the second round.

Cinderella: Minnesota

The Golden Gophers have underachieved this season, but watch out for Tubby Smith teams in the NCAA tournament. And Trevor Mbakwe is a game-changer with his athleticism in the paint. Minnesota gets its act together just in time. It helps that its first-round opponent, UCLA, will be without one of its best players (Jordan Adams) because of injury.

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Dan McQuade, News Editor

Final Four: Louisville, Gonzaga, Florida, Indiana

These teams are the top four in efficiency rating. I assure you that is only coincidental.

Championship: Gonzaga over Indiana

The Bulldogs played a tough non-conference schedule and rolled over the rest of the WCC. Don’t be fooled: Gonzaga is on ESPN all the time, this isn’t a mid-major. Plus, I assume the new Jesuit pope can call in a favor.

Best 12-5 Upset: Oregon over Oklahoma State

None of the 12-5 matchups look ripe for an upset this year, but when in doubt, go with the team that just won its conference tournament.

Best 10-7 Upset: Colorado over Illinois

I generally try to avoid betting on the Big Ten in the NCAA tournament, having been burned too many times. Colorado won a game as an 11 last year and will win one as a 10 this year.

Most Vulnerable 2 Seed: Duke

The Blue Devils are quite good, but a matchup with No. 7 seed Creighton would be tough in the second round. They won’t lose to Albany in the first round like they lost to Lehigh last year, though.

Cinderella: St. Louis

I like Louisville in the Midwest, but the Billikens won a tough Atlantic 10 tournament and play some of the best defense in the country. They could be a Final Four team.

It’s not too late to polish your bracket. Revisit your picks and print out a winning sheet

Brian Rademaekers, News Editor

Final Four: Louisville, Gonzaga, Florida, Indiana

Knowing next to nothing about college basketball, I decided to employ the hottest statistics guru out there– Nate Silver, of New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight fame. He can call Presidential elections in all 50 states, but does his magic work for March Madness? Anyway, the FiveThirtyEight formula called the Wildcats’ win in 2012.

Championship: Louisville over Indiana

The FiveThirtyEight formula says Louisville is most likely to win as a 22.7% favorite. Indiana is right behind them at 19.6%.

Best 12-5 Upset: Mississippi over Wisconsin

According to Silver, the biggest 12-5 upset would be Mississippi over Wisconsin, which has a 24.4% chance of happening. If Ole Miss can pull the upset, it would be the biggest 12-5 stunner, according to Silver.

Best 10-7 Upset: Iowa State over Notre Dame

Biggest upset here: Notre Dame has a 40% chance of losing to the Cyclones.

Most Vulnerable 2 Seed: Georgetown

At .8%, Silver pegs Georgetown as the least likely No. 2 seed to win the championship. Ahead of them are Miami at 2%, Duke at 5.7%, and Ohio State at 5.8%.

Cinderella: VCU

The FiveThirtyEight math says VCU only has an 8.3% chance of making it past the Round of 8. But ESPN’s “Giant Killer” rankings puts them at the top of the 10 most-likely Cinderella teams, with a 83.6 ranking, so what the heck.

Follow Chris Young on Twitter @chrisyoung81

Follow Jordan Raanan on Twitter @JordanRaanan

Follow Dan McQuade on Twitter @dhm

Follow Brian Rademaekers on Twitter @BRademaekers

The opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.