He may be a college basketball analyst, but ESPN’s Jay Bilas is not immune to the madness of March in making NCAA tournament picks.
Bilas released his bracket picks Wednesday, and while his choices are straightforward for the most part—Louisville over Indiana in the finals, for instance—his sometimes outside-the-box thinking led to some questionable selections.
Perhaps the most surprising pick in Bilas’ bracket is his selection of the No. 5 VCU Rams to march all the way to the Final Four. While it would be foolish to underestimate head coach Shaka Smart’s hard-working squad, don’t expect the Rams to make it past No. 1 Kansas in the Sweet 16 as the ESPN analyst predicts.
Yes, VCU is a speedy, defensive-minded squad. But the Jayhawks are the complete package, ranking in the top 20 in the nation in points per game, rebounds per game, assists per game and field-goal percentage.
Kansas has been on a roll, with just one loss since Feb. 9. In that span, they have three victories over ranked teams.
Don’t count on an upset if the Rams and the Jayhawks square off in the South Region.
Bilas has No. 3 Michigan State topping No. 2 Duke in the Sweet 16, but the Blue Devils have what it takes to make it past the Spartans to the Midwest Region finals.
Duke’s offense is simply too good for Michigan State to contain. The Blue Devils are sixth in the nation in scoring, averaging a blistering 78.3 points per game, and have a .476 field-goal percentage, good for 17th in the country.
The Blue Devils’ one-two punch of senior forward Mason Plumlee and senior guard Seth Curry will make for a difficult matchup for the Spartans. Plumlee is a dynamic force, averaging a double-double—17.2 points and 10.2 boards per contest, while Curry adds 17.0 points per game.
The Spartans simply won’t be able to keep pace, as head coach Tom Izzo’s squad is 152nd in the nation in scoring, averaging 68.2 points per game.
Look for Mike Krzyzewski and Co. to prove Bilas wrong and take out Michigan State.
In the West Region final, Bilas has No. 2 Ohio State beating No. 1 Gonzaga to advance to the Final Four. But the Bulldogs’ high-flying offense would be too much for the Buckeyes to overcome if the teams met in the Elite Eight.
Gonzaga ranks 12th in the nation in scoring, dropping 77.6 points per game on opponents, and is third in the country with a .504 field-goal percentage.
Ohio State will especially have trouble matching up with the Gonzaga frontcourt. Bulldog junior forward Kelly Olynyk and senior forward Elias Harris will be tough for the Buckeyes to stop.
Olynyk averages 17.5 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, while Harris adds 14.9 points and 7.4 boards per contest.
Ohio State doesn’t rebound well—they are 135th in the nation with 35.4 per game—and averages just 69.9 points per game, 110th in the country. Gonzaga’s frontcourt and their imposing offense should be enough to stop Ohio State, move on to the Final Four and prove Bilas wrong.
All statistics via ESPN.
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