March Madness 2018: Filling Out the Most Logical Bracket
By Noah Davis
| March 12, 2018
The wait is over, as the conference tournaments are finally in the bag and the seeding for the 2018 Final Four tournament is officially set.
From the play-in “First Four” games to the very end, it’s all laid out for die-hard college basketball fans and sports bettors alike to project one of the most exciting tourneys in sports.
It’s so exciting, in fact, that I couldn’t help but share my personal run-through of the March Madness bracket:
March Madness is about to take over your lives and if you can make the right calls, the insanity just might lead to some profit.
Whether you’re betting on March Madness games individually or predicting who the ultimate champion will be, one
thing is for sure; you’re filling out a bracket.
Each year millions of March Madness brackets are created and there is almost never a perfect bracket.
It’s just an insanely difficult thing to get right, as a litany of upsets arrive, whether it be a 15-seed team downing a promising 2-seed in round one, or a 10-seed somehow sneaking it’s way to
the Final Four.
Through the madness, you need to find a way to project the best teams marching to the Final Four, which sleepers can create havoc and which top teams are destined for early exits.
It’s a tough task, but I’m here to help you sort through the craziness by piecing together a logical bracket that just might give yours (and everyone else’s) a run for its money.
All odds that are referenced in this article were taken from Bovada at 10:57 am CT on 3/12/2018. These odds may have changed since the time of this writing.
Here’s a breakdown of my March Madness bracket:
Virginia heads the South Region as the #1 overall seed after going 31-2 and dominating the ACC. Arguably the best defensive team in the nation, the Cavaliers also sport strong outside shooting
and have the tools to take on anyone.
No 16-seed has ever won, so the Cavaliers are locks to advance to round two. From there, Virginia’s defense should be able to get them past Creighton, but they’ll quickly run into trouble in a
third-round matchup with Kentucky.
I still think they get past the Wildcats and win this entire Region (+125 odds at Bovada), as it’s one built on defense and efficiency.
That shouldn’t be before they battle an equally stingy defensive team in the 2-seeded Cincinnati Bearcats, but in the end, this is Virginia’s region to lose.
Pick: Virginia (+125)
Villanova leads the East Region as the top seed and the Wildcats are again a very real threat for the national championship (+600 favorites at Bovada).
They did just that two years ago and after going 31-4 and exhibiting the best offense in the nation (#1 in scoring), they look like elite contenders yet again.
Again, nobody has ever taken a #1 seed down in the first round, so Villanova will at the very least make it to round two and I can’t see Virginia Tech taking them out.
The road isn’t exactly easy from there, as Villanova could potentially run into the likes of Wichita State, Florida and/or Purdue.
I see Wichita State and Florida as their two toughest outs, but I’m not sure either can stop this offense. Purdue could be a problem if they make it to the East Regional final, but I like Florida
to knock them out one round earlier.
In the end, it’s unlikely all four #1 seeds make it to the Final Four, but so far the path their does look good for both Virginia and Villanova.
Pick: Villanova (TBD)
The first two regions in this year’s March Madness tournament seem pretty cut and dry. Virginia and Villanova are easily the two best #1 seeds and if you’re laying a bet for someone to win this
entire thing, it’s probably coming down to one of them.
That bleeds into the undeniable realization that Xavier just doesn’t feel like an overly imposing #1 seed. Don’t get me wrong, they’re a very good team and they’re a threat to go far in the 2018
Final Four tourney, but I’m not sure I believe they can go all the way.
The path there isn’t easy, for starters.
I seriously doubt this is where the first ever 16 vs. 1 upset goes down, but Xavier has a tough road with potential matchups versus Missouri, Gonzaga and if they get far enough, North Carolina.
I don’t see that happening, though. This is actually a fairly wide open region and if Xavier can’t flex their muscle, they could be out early. Even Missouri (8th seed) is dangerous with the
immensely talented Michael Porter Jr. returning to the floor.
I doubt Missouri is the one to send Xavier packing, but this is probably UNC’s region in the end. They are obviously well coached and simply have too much talent.
Pick: North Carolina (+300)
Much like the West Region, the Midwest Region seems to be a wide-open conversation. That isn’t to take anything away from Kansas, who is at worst the third best #1 seed in this group.
That being said, the Jayhawks are notorious for underperforming when the games truly matter and it’s arguable they don’t have the goods this year to dominate down low like they have in the past.
Then again, injured center Udoka Azubuike is going to be ready for round one, so perhaps that’s not as big of an issue as it may seem.
That, and the road to the 2018 Final Four really only gets tough at the end of this region.
That’s probably why the top March Madness betting sites like Bovada give Kansas solid odds (+250) and don’t separate the likes of Duke (+180) and Michigan State (+230) by much.
Ultimately, I don’t really trust Kansas to get all the way to the big stage, while Tom Izzo has a really tough time against Duke historically. Duke is so talented that they could win it all, yet
volatile enough to get ousted early.
I like Duke to at least get to the Final Four this year, however.
Pick: Duke (+180)
My 2018 March Madness bracket is not one that comes without a few risks. My Final Four is pretty straightforward, though. I have two #1 seeds and two #2 seeds heading to the big stage when it’s
all said and done.
Still, there are some tricky situations before they can get to that point and I’m also going out on a limb for a few upsets. Teams like Syracuse, Charleston, San Diego State, Loyola-Chicago,
Texas, Murray State, Butler, Providence and Oklahoma are all good for at least one big win, in my opinion.
The big thing to remember, whether those sleepers deliver or not, is that it’s pretty rare for early round upsets to turn into historic runs. That’s why those crazy cinderella teams end up being,
I do think this tournament has the makings of a great one, but in the end, I doubt any deep sleeper cracks the Final Four.
As for those last few games in Texas, I love Villanova and North Carolina to advance.
The Tarheels just won it last year and will have a shot at repeating, while they’ll also have a chance at exacting revenge on Villanova, who beat them on a last-second shot two seasons ago.
The Wildcats are my favorite team across the board, however. Nobody scores, as well as Villanova and they, also boast one of the most dangerous perimeter games in the nation.
North Carolina is a valid threat here and could provide elite value (+1400) if they can snag the win, but I like Jay Wright’s crew to win their second title.