NCAA Tournament: Does SportsGrid’s Staff Picks Match Your Final Four?
By this time, we’ve all lost count of how many times we’ve asked or been asked, what’s your Final Four? I asked the question at least 20 times, officially gathering the picks from SportsGrid’s staff, covering the editorial team and TV and radio personalities.
SportsGrid Staff Final Four Picks
|Mike Carver||Duke||Alabama||Texas A&M||UCLA|
|Drew Martin||Marquette||Alabama||Texas A&M||Connecticut|
|Danny Mogollon||Kansas St.||Alabama||Houston||UCLA|
South Region Breakdown
- #1 Alabama (16)
- #2 Arizona (4)
- #6 Creighton (1)
No team garnered more selections than the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, the Alabama Crimson Tide, who are the South Region’s representative on 16 of 21 entries, nearly twice as many as the next most popular pick from the SportsGrid Staff. Ben Stevens, the host of The Morning After, is on the 6-seeded Creighton Bluejays.
Stevens: “Creighton, in my opinion, has arguably the most talented starting five in the entire country. Deep, skilled, and versatile from one to five. I think the Jays match up well with anybody in the tournament.”
With an elite offense, an even better defense, and the nation’s best player, I couldn’t pick against the Tide, but I do have Creighton going as far as the Elite 8.
Midwest Region Breakdown
- #1 Houston (9)
- #2 Texas (8)
- #7 Texas A&M (2)
- #3 Xavier, #4 Indiana (1)
The 1-seed Houston Cougars made it on nine ballots, just edging out the 2-seed Texas Longhorns (eight) in the Midwest Region. Joe Lisi of Carver & Lisi picked the 3-seed Xavier Musketeers, and our Hannah Brewitt backed the 4-seed Indiana Hoosiers to round out the region.
Lisi: “Xavier was 15-5 in Big East play this year, and seven of their nine losses were by a combined total of 18 points or 2.5 PPG. Also, the early out-of-conference schedule was very tough with four NCAA tourney teams on the slate, including Indiana, Duke, Gonzaga, and WVU.”
Brewitt: “I think this Hoosier team’s style of play lends well to the tournament format. They have a strong defensive matchup to start out with Kent State, and they could ride that momentum deep into the Final Four.”
West Region Breakdown
- #3 Gonzaga, #4 Connecticut (6)
- #2 UCLA (5)
- #1 Kansas (3)
- #6 TCU (1)
The West is the tightest region of the four, with 3-seed Gonzaga Bulldogs and 4-seed Connecticut Huskies getting six votes to make it to Houston. I planned to be the tiebreaker, but considering I have both getting bounced in the second round, we’ll go with the unsatisfying push.
The defending champion Kansas Jayhawks got the least support of all the 1-seeds, while senior writer Grant White is the lone wolf backing the 6-seed TCU Horned Frogs.
White: “The Horned Frogs have been giant killers all season, and they match up well against the top teams in the West bracket. TCU plays with pace and can hang with any team thanks to its prowess on the offensive glass, but also has the defensive structure to limit the more offensively gifted squads. The three-headed monster of Miles, Miller, and Baugh is too much for most other programs to handle.”
East Region Breakdown
- #5 Duke (6)
- #2 Marquette (5)
- #1 Purdue(4)
- #6 Kentucky (2)
- #3 Kansas State, #4 Tennessee, #8 Memphis, #11 Providence (1)
The East is the most wide-open region of the four, at least according to the 21 members of SportsGird to make Final Four selections, as eight different schools, half the region, were picked to make it to NRG Stadium. Craig Mish (Fantasy Sports Today), Lisi, our lead college hoops analyst Dave Connelly, and I are all on an island with our East Region picks.
Mish: “The Vols have had a wildly inconsistent season. Many will forget they are one of (if not the only) team in the tournament to defeat two #1 seeds (Kansas & Alabama) and have a win against Texas on the resume. They could lose in round one, and they could get to the end. Last season they came in as a favorite to do damage and fell flat. Expectations are lower this season. Less pressure, better results.”
Lisi: “Even though Providence lost four of their last five games, they were 13-7 in Big East play this season and have the size to make a run to the Final Four. Forwards Ed Croswell (13.2 ppg) and Bryce Hopkins (16.1 ppg) can carry this team over the next four weeks of the tournament.”
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