Madness to End With Boilers on Top

Zach Piatt

Sports Editor

Before anyone questions the title, yes, I’m talking about the Purdue Boilermakers, the Big Ten regular season champion Purdue Boilermakers, the four seed in the Midwest Purdue Boilermakers. And before anyone goes on a crazy rampage saying I don’t know anything about college basketball and calling me the dumbest person in the world, hear me out. I am a Purdue basketball fan and have been since the days of Carl Landry and David Teague. March Madness is my favorite sporting event of the year, and every time the Boilers have a legitimate shot to go all the way, guess who my National Champion is. This is me breaking down my 2017 NCAA Tournament bracket picks.

Villanova, Notre Dame, Purdue, and UCLA are my Final Four. Purdue won the regular season Big Ten title and I have them over Nova in the National Championship. Photo by Zach Piatt.

First Four

Honestly, who cares? I hate the First Four games. Feel free to look at my bracket to see which four I circled, but I basically chose at random. And really, if you have to play an extra game to get into the tournament, you don’t deserve to be in the tournament, let alone have a chance to move on.

Round One

East

In the East, I have all chalk moving on. The only first round match up that looked dicey was the 7-10 between South Carolina and Marquette. It didn’t feel right at first, but I found more upsets in other regions.

West

The West was tricky. Gonzaga is the weakest number 1 seed, Arizona flew under the radar and ended up with a 2, and Florida State is waiting to be upset by Florida Gulf Coast. I still have all three advancing, even though FSU isn’t a tournament team by a long shot and FGC is known for taking on the Cinderella role. I wanted to take Northwestern as an 8 in their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance, but I don’t think they have enough talent to beat Vanderbilt. I also took VCU, the first of two 10 seeds I have winning.

Midwest

Both Michigan and Michigan State look scary in the Midwest. Michigan won four games in four days to win the Big Ten Tournament, becoming the lowest seed to ever do so. MSU is the definition of a tournament team. Any team coached by Tom Izzo has a shot, even as a 9 seed. I have Nevada over Iowa State as my only 12-5 upset. There always seems to be at least one, and Nevada looks like the best candidate.

South

The South is similar to the East in that I have almost no upsets. I took 9th-seeded Seton Hall in a toss up against Arkansas and 10th-seeded Wichita State over Dayton. The Minnesota-Middle Tennessee game is up in the air as well. I feel like Minnesota will either win in a blowout or lose it late in the game, but I went with the higher seeded Gophers.

Round Two

East

Once again the East is all chalk. Wisconsin wasn’t given much respect with an 8 seed, but Villanova is a 1 for a reason. Duke should breeze into the next round. SMU is a bracket buster waiting to happen, but I’m taking Baylor as the better team. Florida slipped up in their conference tournament, but they should rebound nicely even against Virginia’s tough defense.

West

Here’s where my bracket gets interesting. Remember when I said Gonzaga was the weakest number 1? Here’s where they fall: second round to Vandy. After Florida State gets a scare in the first round, Maryland will mop the floor with them. I like Arizona and Notre Dame to cruise on as well.

Midwest

Here’s another big one: Michigan State over Kansas. The Jayhawks haven’t been known to live up to expectations come tourney time, and once Izzo and MSU get past the first round they are tough to beat. Even with the high Michigan is on right now, I don’t see them getting by Louisville. They have too much talent. Oregon will move on after a good game with Creighton. Purdue should take care of Nevada.

South

The South again is just like the East. The 1-4 seeds won’t have trouble moving on in the region with the weakest lower seeds.

Sweet Sixteen

East

Villanova does not have a bumpy road to the Elite Eight. Florida will give them something to think about, but they are too powerful. Duke-Baylor might be the best game in the whole tournament. Even with Duke’s struggles this year, they’re peaking at the right time and should keep on keeping on.

West

Notre Dame will take advantage of an emotionally-drained Vanderbilt team. Vandy won’t have anything left after taking down the Zags. I’ve got a hunch Maryland is going to keep on rolling. Arizona wasn’t in too many headlines and I don’t think anyone will be surprised if they aren’t in the Elite Eight.

Midwest

Purdue has beaten Michigan State twice already this year. I don’t see any reason they can’t do it again. It’s hard to beat a team three times in a season, but Purdue’s big men are so draining, they will exhaust MSU’s front court. Oregon is good enough to be an Elite Eight team, but not if they have to play Louisville. The Cardinals are hot and they will run the Ducks out of the gym.

South

Butler had back-to-back unlikely title game runs a few years ago, but this team doesn’t have what it takes to beat North Carolina, not this year. Kentucky-UCLA will be a fun game to watch. Malik Monk and Lonzo Ball squaring off. They will put on a show. Kentucky is too inexperienced and untalented this year. I know it sounds weird, but they don’t have the talent from previous years. UCLA will move on.

Elite Eight

East

Villanova is too good. They are silly good. If I was being completely honest with myself, I would probably have them repeating. If you haven’t gotten the hint yet, I have them beating Duke.

West

Notre Dame, a 5, against Maryland, a 6. I think luck is with the Irish. They have the talent to go a long way.

Midwest

Again, if I wasn’t biased, this is where I’d oust the Boilers, but they played Louisville well earlier this year, so why not?

South

UNC seems like they’re in the Final 4 every year. I don’t see it happening this time. Lonzo Ball will go off and move UCLA on.

Final Four

This is where luck runs out for the Irish. Nova will take care of business and make it look surprisingly easy. I would have Louisville topping UCLA, so that means Purdue can beat them too. I know, it’s a heck of a thought process.

National Championship

Boiler up. That’s all that needs to be said. I can’t have them go this far and lose. Purdue lost a nail-biter early in the season to Villanova. This will be their revenge.

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