Hicks' Semi-Serious NCAA Prediction

In an annual tradition, BRO's Greg Hicks provides his semi-facetious look at how the Big Dance will play out...

Consider this your road map to a billion dollars.

You're welcome.

South Region

Someday a 16 seed will knock off a one seed. But it won't be Thursday in Orlando. Florida rolls over Albany. Pittsburgh knocks off Colorado in the 8/9 game because Wild Askia Booker (yes, Askia is actually his middle name) is playing point guard for the Buffaloes instead of Spencer Dinwiddie. I see a lot of pundits choosing Stephen F. Austin over VCU in the 5/12 game. But here's a little known fact about Stephen F. Austin…there are no well known facts about the school. Also, never trust a school with a middle initial. VCU in a romp. It's been 20 years, but UCLA finally gets revenge on hated rival Tulsa. We're four picks in and I've yet to choose an underdog. I guess it's time – Dayton beats Ohio State (and you thought I had no system for getting you that billion dollars). Syracuse has been struggling, but the Orange are too good for Western Michigan. New Mexico takes on Stanford in the 7/10 game. Put these kids on the playground and I'm going with Stanford. Put Johnny Dawkins on the sideline and I'll take the Lobos. Also, feel free to partake in Greg's Drinking Game. Take a shot every time I take a shot at Duke in this article and you'll be feeling no pain. Kansas plays a directional school from Kentucky and, not surprisingly, comes away victorious.

Florida has a tough second round game with Pitt, but the Gators advance. A big key to VCU's game is speeding up the opponent. Good luck trying to speed up a guy named Slo Mo. Kyle Anderson goes for a triple double in a surprisingly easy Bruin victory. Jim Boeheim, not Mike Kryzyzewski, did all the real coaching in those Team USA Olympic victories. I think Boeheim can handle Dayton. New Mexico has a solid team, but I can't see a guy named Noodles beating Bill Self.

In the Sweet 16, Bryce Alford locks up Florida's Scottie Wilbekin to lead UCLA to the upset win. After the game, Alford tells the media "A lot of people said I couldn't play defense, but I wanted to show them I could. (looks into camera) Greg Hicks." If Joel Embiid never got hurt, I probably have Kansas winning the whole thing. But with the uncertainty surrounding his availability, I'm going with Syracuse to take out the Jayhawks. UCLA whacks the Orange and heads to the Final Four. BRO football board regulars wonder: "Why can't Coach Mora be more like Coach Alford?"

East Region

Virginia holds Coastal Carolina scoreless for the first half and coasts to an easy win. In the 8/9 game, Memphis has no trouble with George Washington. Harvard and Cincinnati square off in the 5/12 game. Tommy Amaker is part of the Coach K (stands for Knucklehead) coaching tree. Go Bearcats. Michigan State has Tom Izzo and Delaware has…um…a sweet tax deal for corporations? I don't think that will help, so the Spartans advance. North Carolina's Roy Williams is no master tactician, but he's still better than that annoying guy nine miles down the road. UNC gets past Providence. Iowa State blows out North Carolina Central and I can't be the only one wondering if they're just making these schools up. NC Central? Really? UConn loses to St. Joseph's because it feels like it's time for another upset. Villanova jumps all over Milwaukee.

Virginia's Tony Bennett and Memphis's Josh Pastner both have to show IDs when they want to buy beer. Josh is the recruiter, Tony is the coach. Go with the coach. Michigan State has way too much firepower for Cincinnati. I'll take Roy Williams over Coach K, but I won't take him over Fred Hoiberg. Cyclones advance. St. Joseph's is playing good ball, but Villanova will move on to the Sweet 16.

Michigan State and Virginia are both good enough to be Final Four teams, but I'll go with Tom Izzo's tournament experience as the difference in a great game. Iowa State played in a tougher league than Villanova and the Cyclones advance to the Elite Eight. Michigan State, with a roster that's finally healthy, takes out the Cyclones for yet another trip to the Final Four.

West Region

Fresh off a demoralizing loss to UCLA, Arizona takes out its frustrations on Weber State. Oklahoma State is only a two-point favorite over Gonzaga, but I like the Cowboys to win relatively comfortably. My friend has a movie about Cesar Chavez coming out this month and you should go see it. No, that has nothing to do with the tournament, but Facebook is always embedding ads in my newsfeed and nobody seems to be doing anything about that. Besides, it does have a sports theme, as it's the inspiring and heartwarming story of a light-hitting, great-fielding shortstop that beats the odds and achieves his dream of playing in the major leagues. Trust me, you'll love it. Oklahoma runs past North Dakota State in the 5/12 game. San Diego State is way too good for New Mexico State, while Nebraska is just a little better than Baylor. Creighton has the best player in the college game with Doug McDermott and one of the nice guys in the business with his father Greg McDermott. The Bluejays have no trouble with Louisiana Lafayette. I'd like BYU over Oregon if the Cougars hadn't lost Chris Collinsworth to injury. With former Bruin Matt Carlino stepping in to replace him, I've got Oregon advancing. Wisconsin should have no problem taking out American.

I've seen some people writing that Arizona has an easy path to a Final Four, but Oklahoma State is far from an easy second game. I'll go with the Wildcats, but I expect a very difficult game. San Diego State has one of the more underrated players in Xavier Thames and he's the difference in the Aztecs win over Oklahoma. Nebraska takes on Creighton in a civil war game and McDermott is too much for the Cornhuskers to handle. Wisconsin plays tough, disciplined, fundamental basketball and Oregon has… some funky looking uniforms. On Wisconsin.

Arizona and San Diego St. put on a defensive clinic, but the Wildcats have a little more firepower and move on to the Elite Eight. Creighton is one of the more enjoyable teams to watch in college basketball, and I want to watch them play one more game, so they get past the Badgers. But Doug McDermott's incredible college career comes to an end two days later when Arizona defeats the Bluejays and advances to the Final Four.

Midwest Region

Wichita State got the toughest region, but the Shockers won't have any problems with Cal Poly. Kentucky's young talent seems to be coming together at the end of the year and they'll advance past Kansas State. St. Louis plays smothering defense and I like the Billikens to knock out Xavier. Louisville has a talented group of players used to playing on a big stage and Manhattan…apparently has a basketball team as well. Cardinals in a laugher. Tennessee has to get past Iowa in a play-in game and then defeat Umass to get to the second round. Both of those things will happen. Duke plays Mercer and the annoying floor-slappers live to play another day. Texas has been playing terrible lately, but Jahii Carson has been way too inconsistent this season. Unfortunately, another Pac-12 team bites the dust. Wafford? Did anyone on the Selection Committee proofread these brackets before they got released? Michigan has no trouble with them, assuming they're even a real college and not a fictional prep school from Dead Poets Society.

Wichita State gets Kentucky in the second round and, if you're not rooting for the Shockers in this game, there's something wrong with you. Regardless, the Shockers take out the Wildcats. St. Louis is a tough out, but Rick Pitino has too much talent at his disposal. Duke faces off with Tennessee and the smuggest program in college hoops gets another win. Michigan is led by John Beilein, perhaps the best "unknown" coach in college basketball and Texas has Rick Barnes. I think you can figure this one out.

Wichita State and Louisville is another Sweet 16 matchup that could be a Final Four game. Shockers keep on shocking. Duke plays Michigan in the other Sweet 16 game. Remember what I said about John Beilein? Yeah, I realize it was only four sentences ago, but some of you have had a few shots by now. Take one more to celebrate Duke's exit from the tournament (and the demolition of Dick Vitale's bracket), as Beilein coaches circles around Coach K. Wichita State continues the recent tradition of mid majors advancing to the Final Four.

Final Four

UCLA's magical ride through the tournament comes to an end in the semifinals as Michigan State has too much talent and experience for the Bruins. Wichita State's perfect season continues, though, as the Shockers are too good for Arizona. Prior to the championship game, Greg Marshall is rumored for every available job in college and the NBA. But it's Tom Izzo's Spartans that end up champions on Monday night in Dallas.


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