March Madness Bracket 2017: Printable 2017 NCAA Tournament Page and Predictions – Bleacher Report

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 11: Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils and his team pose for photos with their trophy following their 75-69 victory against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the ACC Basketball Tournament Championship game at Barclays Center on March 11, 2017 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

Lance King/Getty Images

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMarch 13, 2017

The first week of March Madness feels like every major holiday rolled into one for college basketball fans, as folks around the country magically get the flu and call in sick, watch the games online when they should be working or check their phone every 10 seconds for the latest score updates.

It’s a great time of year, and the 2017 version should be fantastic thanks to some great teams and players.

Here’s a look at the bracket (a printable version can be found here) as well as three predictions.

   

March Madness Bracket

 

Villanova Does Not Make It Back to the Final Four

This is much less an indictment on the Wildcats, who might even be better than last year’s national championship team, as it is on the selection committee for giving the No. 1 overall seed such a difficult draw.

First, No. 2 seed Duke could easily make a case to be a No. 1 seed this year after winning the ACC tournament and beating Louisville, North Carolina and Notre Dame in consecutive days.

Second, No. 4 seed Florida and No. 5 seed Virginia are two of the toughest defensive teams in the nation. UVA in particular allows the fewest points per game in the country (55.6) and nearly beat Villanova at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, losing 61-59 on a buzzer-beater.

And third, No. 8 seed Wisconsin was under-seeded by two or three seeds. The Badgers finished second in the Big Ten and made the title game, yet their reward was a No. 8 seed.

It comes down to the path of least resistance. Villanova has two potential pitfalls before it would even get the chance to see Duke in the Elite Eight, while the Blue Devils have an easier road to the Final Four.

Take Duke to win the East over the Wildcats.

 

No No. 12 Seed or Lower Makes the 2nd Round

The 2007 NCAA tournament was unofficially one of the most boring postseasons (perhaps the most) in men’s college basketball history, with the Final Four providing no excitement and no No. 12 seeds or lower pulling off upsets.

While this tournament should prove to be much more intriguing, expect the latter scenario to happen for the first time in 10 years. The teams on the top five seed lines are strong this year. It’s a deep field with star power, senior leadership and well-coached teams populating the tournament.

Some tough teams do exist at No. 12 or below this year, most notably Nevada, Middle Tennessee and Princeton (all No. 12 seeds), but take a look at the No. 5 seeds:

Notre Dame: Tied for second place in the ACC regular season and went to the title game.

Minnesota: Won 24 games, including nine of its last 11.

Iowa State: Won the Big 12 conference tournament and beat No. 1 seed Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse. The Cyclones also have four hot-shooting senior guards.

Virginia: Beat No. 1 seed UNC, nearly beat No. 1 overall seed Villanova and has the best defense in the country per KenPom.com.

That’s a strong quartet, perhaps too strong for the No. 12 seeds. It wouldn’t be surprising if one of the No. 12 seeds knocks off a No. 5, but that won’t be the case this season.

  

ACC Will Dominate

The ACC sent the most teams to the NCAA tournament this year (nine) with a 10th team falling just short (Syracuse). Furthermore, six of those nine teams earned top-five seeds.

If you look closely at the draws, three of those teams (Duke, North Carolina and Louisville) have manageable paths to the Final Four.

Duke’s half of the East Region isn’t too difficult. Baylor and South Carolina revolve too much around their best players (Johnathan Motley and Sindarius Thornwell respectively), and their lack of scoring depth will hurt them in the tourney.

SMU is highly underrated and could have made a case for a No. 4 seed, and it should give Duke a strong test if they both make the Sweet 16, but Duke forward and future NBA lottery pick Jayson Tatum is playing so well that it’s hard seeing anyone on SMU stopping him.

Villanova is one of the best teams in the country, but we already talked about its brutal draw.

UNC could waltz to the Elite Eight. Butler and Minnesota pose the biggest threats, but neither team is in the Tar Heels’ class. Neither is in the top 25 of the Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings. UCLA and Kentucky reside on the other half of the bracket, but it’s difficult to pick either one of them when it seems like a potential Sweet 16 game between the two would amount to a coin flip.

Louisville’s draw on paper would have looked difficult just last week, but on Friday, No. 3 seed Oregon lost forward Chris Boucher, who averaged 11.8 points and 2.5 blocks per game, for the season with a torn ACL. With Boucher, Oregon could have competed for a national title. Without him, it’s hard to see the Ducks getting past the Sweet 16.

Expect those easier draws to be beneficial to UNC, Louisville and Duke, enabling them to make the Final Four.

March Madness Bracket 2017: Printable 2017 NCAA Tournament Page and Predictions – Bleacher Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.