My March Madness picks


Esteban Serrano, Lead Editor

It’s that time of year… personally, one of my favorite times of the year. I enjoy taking part in this sports tradition more than any other. I actually enjoy this more than partaking in any professional sports tradition such as picking a Super Bowl winner or even predicting how many goals would be scored in a hockey game. If you know me personally, you would know this time of year I enjoy so much for a number of reasons… however, the only part that stresses me out a tiny bit is getting the picks in the tournament correct.

While it is a burden to correctly pick the outcome of 63 games, and all but 32 you create the outcomes freely because there are no set teams like in the first round. A lot of it is pure luck, as many times unpredictable outcomes occur. Only a few recent times all No. 1 seeds made it to the Final Four was 2008 with a Kansas Jayhawk victory. Most recently in the 2018 Tournament, No. 16 UMBC managed to knock off No.1 Virginia. It was the first time ever that the lowest seed knocked off the top seed to advance in the Tournament. Or how about UCLA going from the First Four play-in tournament last year to the Final Four and nearly knocking off Gonzaga to head to the Championship.

However, I personally do not see a No. 1 seed going down again in the near future, nor do I see a First Four team exceeding past the Sweet 16 round for a long time. With that, the obsessive March Madness buff I am, I have created 10 different brackets again all with different outcomes. The only duplicate champion I have across 2 of the 10 is Gonzaga. Although, my hopes in them bouncing back after a loss to Baylor in the National Championship last year to end their perfect season is not high.

I usually make one bracket that I consider to be my “main” one. So, all the following picks I have listed in this article are in my main bracket.

Some key games I take into consideration in the first round are No. 9 Memphis defeating No. 8 Boise St. These 8/9 games can be tricky to call. They are usually toss-ups and I see Memphis with more basketball potential only because the school has been in this tournament before and slightly knows what to expect. I have No. 10 Davidson knocking off No. 7 Michigan St. I feel like this will be one of those teams that make a run. Davidson actually had a good record in the Atlantic 10 conference with 15-3 to end their season, which is better than most teams in this year’s Tournament. Another pick that UT Longhorn fans will absolutely hate me for is the burnt orange who is No. 6 losing to No. 11 Virginia Tech. UT Austin lost last year in the first round to Abilene Christian, while being a No. 3 seed. For some reason, the Longhorns don’t ever have much success in the Tournament, and I do not see that changing this year. Next, No. 14 Longwood I have upsetting No. 3 Tennessee. Now, some might be saying it’s disrespectful to the SEC Conference which has had a handful of teams successfully break this year, but it’s unlikely any of the SEC teams could go to the Final Four. I had the feeling watching the Selection Show this past Sunday that Longwood could make a small run, but I do not have them winning past the second round.

Here are my 16 teams predicted to be “dancing” in the third round after this Sunday:

1 Gonzaga vs. 4 Arkansas

14 Montana St. vs. 2 Duke

8 UNC vs. 5 St. Mary’s

3 Purdue vs. 2 Kentucky

1 Arizona vs. 4 Illinois

6 Colorado St. vs. 10 Loyola Chicago

1 Kansas vs. 5 Iowa

6 LSU vs. 2 Auburn

After Sunday, we’ll see how correct I was, and if my bracket didn’t bust severely. In the meantime, you yourself can join The Pep’s March Madness group on the NCAA Bracket Challenge app and online page. Create a bracket, and see if you can beat me and my fellow writers. The best bracket that beats us will win a $20 gift card!

You must have your bracket completed by 11 am on Thursday, March 17 to be able to join. The games will start at 11:40 am on the same day. The name of the group is “Beat the Pep.” Simply tap on it to join and enter your bracket! Good luck! I look forward to seeing who you have cutting down the net in New Orleans this year.