When ever two college basketball teams meet for one game, luck always plays a big part. The best team doesn't necessarily always win. Good players have off days and bad players get hot. Thus picking a perfect bracket, even if you legitimately know which teams are better, is impossible. But you can increase your chances of bracket success by avoiding some obvious pitfalls and nailing the underrated squads.
Kansas might not win it all, and it would be no fun if everyone picked them to win.. but if you pick against them, understand that they are simply the clear class of the country. They were 14-2 against Top 60 teams. Impressive.
Duke will certainly win their first couple of games, so don't go crazy picking them to lose early. But Duke is unproven against the country's best, with just 1 Top 25 win (and that as at home against Maryland, which isn't terribly exciting.)
Best: West Virginia
Having won the Big East Tournament, and finished with the #4 RPI, WVU arguably deserved a #1 seed. And not just over Duke, but over Syracuse as well.
Worst: Ohio St
Despite having a stud in Evan Turner, this is a flawed team that lacks depth and much on the interior. There best win in non-conference play was against Cal, by just 6 points. Yes, OSU's won 13 of 14 games, but only one of those games can be considered a quality win, at Top 50 Michigan St. The rest of the Big Ten teams they beat aren't terribly good.
The Hoyas have beaten 6 Top 15 teams including Duke, Butler, Pittsburgh, Temple, Syracuse and Villanova
Pitt has a lot of weak results on the road (obviously the Cuse win being an exception), losing to the likes of Seton Hall, Indiana, South Florida and Texas by 16. Unfortunately for Pitt, the tourney isn't played on their home court. More like a 5 or 6 seed.
The 4s in general are extremely weak to me, but Wiscy is the best of this bunch because they own 5 Top 30 wins. Impressive.
Everyone thinks Purdue is an easy upset target against Siena. I actually like the Boilers to pull the game out, but you can't argue that the loss of Hummel and facing such a good 13 seed is a bad combo.
Best: Texas A&M
The Aggies don't have a bad loss all year and have come close against Top 10-quality teams like KU, UNM, and Baylor.
I actually like all the 5 seeds better then the 4's (and all are arguably better then 3 seed Pitt too), so in a sense Butler is quite underrated despite the disrespect here. Still, they lost all 4 of their road games against quality opponents, and were unlucky to draw a Top 25-caliber team in UTEP.
Xavier's well-tested, having played an extremely challenging slate of road games. They have one of the country's unsung talents in Jordan Crawford.
Marquette actually beat Xavier so its not like they're dog meat.. this seed group is probably the most even to me and was hardest to choose. If Marquette gets by Washington, they'd have to be feared in round 2.
Best: Oklahoma St
James Anderson is one of the best players out there and the Cowboys have shown they can play with anybody in the country when they're clicking.
I actually like Richmond a lot, but the other 7's are solid.. so here they are in part because they're unlucky facing SMC, one of the best 10 seeds. Some of their early wins which seemed great at the time like Florida, Miss St, and Missouri don't seem as impressive now as those teams have struggled. Still, if they're hot from 3, look out.
The Horns were 17-0 at one point and ranked #1. Are they that much worse now? A lot of their slide simply has to do with playing so many tough games in a tough league. 6 of their 9 losses are against Top 15 teams and they only have one real questionable loss all season.
Who has Cal actually beat this year?
Best: Northern Iowa
Despite a great record, the committee somewhat snubbed the UNI in their seed because they didn't play enough quality non-conference opponents. UNLV is certainly a beatable 8 seed, and UNI's style always causes problems for opponents.
Worst: Wake Forest
Wake certainly has talent, but they're a bit schizo at times and you can't ignore their late slide, losing 5 of 6 games.
Best: Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech still hasn't put it together and this is compounded by the fact their facing the best #7 seed in my opinion, Oklahoma St. Still, they're a class above the other 10's, just a little unlucky in their draw.
Florida has a couply name wins, but a ton of losses. They don't deserve to be in the Tournament, let alone a 10 seed. Their saving grace is that their opponent, BYU, is certainly beatable.
Best: Old Dominion
The 11 seeds seem quite even, and I only give ODU the edge because I like their first round matchup against Notre Dame the best.
The Gophers had a nice run the Big Ten tourney, but they do have some questionable losses that are hard to ignore.
Considering they were ranked last week, a 12 seed seems a bit harsh. They lost only 2 games to non-Tournament teams all year, at Texas Tech and at Ole Miss, and even they are in the NIT.
Worst: Utah St
This seems harsh, because I actually like Utah St and think they're under-seeded. The problem is that away from home, Utah St doesnt have the same magic, and I think their 1st round opponent is one of the better 5's.
I wouldn't quite pencil in Siena over Purdue like many suggest, but there's no doubt this is an extremely dangerous considered their recent tourney success.
I think the 13 seeds are particularly solid this year, so Houston can still be dangerous against Maryland. Despite 15 losses, Houston only lost 2 of those games by 10+ and were competitive in almost every game.
Ohio lost a lot of really close games all season, so their run through the MAC Tournament was a matter of finally running into some luck. They did get crushed at Pitt in their lone foray into big-time basketball, so don't expect much here.
Oakland's solid 52 RPI is boosted because they played #1 Kansas and #5 Syracuse. But they lost by 30 & 32 in those games, and also were blown out by Memphis & Wisconsin. With that said, I dont think Oakland will get crushed by Pitt like those early results.
Best: North Texas
If you take one extremely awful home loss to FIU, North Texas actually had a fine season. At two Big 12 tournament teams, Ok St and Texas A&M, they lost by only 14 and 10. That's a sign they can hang in with Kansas St for awhile.
Worst: Robert Morris
They should have been a 16 seed to me instead of Vermont. In 3 games against Top 50 teams, they lost by 40, 24, and 14. They can be pesky though.
A 117 RPI is unusually high for a 16 seed. They've only had 2 games all season that they weren't at least competitive and have one of the best players in low-major basketball, Marqus Blakely.
They have no chance to beat Duke.