Every year when filling out a bracket, no matter how hard you study there are some games that you just can’t figure out.
Reading up on that 8-9 matchup in the first round for two hours won’t do you any good if the teams go back-and-forth the entire game and the other team buries a trey from mid-court at the buzzer even though your team was “statistically superior” and “on a hot streak” and double-teaming the guy shooting.
That being said, each year there are some teams that are red-hot and ready for March who clobber the opposition from the opening tip to the final horn and make you look really dumb if you weren’t riding them at least to the Sweet 16 as they stomp your team by 27 in the first game. Some teams aren’t quite who you might think they are based on their seed and record. Here are three teams to pick in your bracket this year:
5 seed Iowa
The Hawkeyes have been playing really good basketball recently, and might’ve drawn the exact 12-seed they wanted for the first round. While Richmond is no cupcake, the Spiders might be playing the wrong team at the wrong time. While Iowa is kind of volatile and a little risky since they are a 5-seed, they look like the Auburn team that went to the Final Four as a 5 in the 2019 Tournament.
10 seed Loyola-Chicago
In each of the past two NCAA Tournaments involving the Ramblers, they’ve at least made the Sweet 16. Not only are they facing by far the worst 7-seed in the bracket in Ohio State for the first game, they also would draw Villanova as the 2-seed in the second round—a much more favorable matchup for them than, say, Kentucky. Don’t bet against Sister Jean.
8 seed North Carolina
The Tar Heels are riding high after beating Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium and performing reasonably well in the ACC Tournament before bowing out to Virginia Tech, and also have an 8-seed’s dream path to the Sweet 16. Not only do they play a weak 9-seed in Marquette, who is coached by Shaka Smart, whose teams almost always gets knocked out in the first round (even when a 3-seed), but also would face the weakest of the 1-seeds in Baylor, who is heavily injured and barely got a 1-seed at all. If any 8 or 9 seed makes it to the second weekend, odds are it’s Carolina.