March Madness: How does your bracket stack up?

GC's Ben Raven breaks down his bracket step-by-step, analyzing each of the four regions in this year's tournament.

The 2013 NCAA tournament field has been announced and people everywhere are filling out their respective brackets. Everyone wants to know who you have winning the national championship. Well, here are my selections with some valuable information from each region along the way.


Let’s start in the Midwest region, where No. 1 overall seed Louisville resides. In my opinion, this is the toughest region to survive in the entire field. There are two national player of the year award candidates in Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart. As well as legendary coaches in Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Mike Krzyzewski (Duke) and Rick Pitino (Louisville).

I see Louisville surviving early scares from Missouri and Saint Louis to reach the Elite Eight. Louisville has great senior leadership in guard Peyton Siva, a potent scoring threat in guard Russ Smith (18.1 points per game) and a 6’11” defensive monster on the inside in Gorgui Dieng. Dieng is averaging 10 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game this season.

My Sweet 16 in this region features the top four seeds, Louisville, Saint Louis, Michigan St. and Duke. With Duke and Louisville meeting in the Elite Eight. I see the Duke Blue Devils reaching Atlanta and the Final Four out of this region based on one main thing:

Ryan Kelly.

With Kelly back in the lineup this team is as versatile as they come. Seth Curry has the potential to light up the scoreboard on any given night and Mason Plumlee is double-double machine.


My bracket buster in this region are the Oregon Ducks. Oregon is the No. 12 seed and is coming off of a 26-8 season with a Pac-12 tournament championship to show for it, and features an extremely deep team in which no player scores more than 11.6 points per game. Oregon wins when they are able to control the pace, work hard on the boards and force turnovers.


The most overrated team in this region are the Memphis Tigers. This is not the Memphis of the past couple of years, they may have run the table in the Conference USA regular season and conference tournament but the Tigers are being overrated by fans. If Memphis is able to escape the winner of Middle Tennessee State or Saint Louis, then they are going to get steamrolled by Michigan State.


Let’s move onto the West region, where Gonzaga is the No. 1 seed. Gonzaga ran the table in the West Coast Conference this year and enter the tournament at 31-2. This region may not be the most impressive on paper but I believe that it features the most parity. I had the hardest time picking this region because I truly could see any of the top 10 seeds making a run to Atlanta.

In my Sweet 16 I have Gonzaga playing Wisconsin, after the Badgers survive a scare from Kansas State and Arizona playing Ohio State. Gonzaga will beat Wisconsin to reach the Elite Eight because of the fact that they are an offensive juggernaut that shoot lights out; ranking third in the nation for team shooting percentage with slightly over 50 percent. Junior big man Kelly Olynyk leads the way for Gonzaga as the 7-footer averages 17.5 points per game and has shown some decent range for his stature.

Wisconsin may be battle-tested from playing in the powerful Big Ten Conference but after an exhausting game against Kansas State in the Round of 32, the Badgers just will not have enough steam to keep up with the Bulldogs.

In the other Sweet 16 matchup I have sixth-seeded Arizona and second-seeded Ohio St facing off. Arizona will survive New Mexico as Ohio State will get past hungry Iowa State. Arizona has beat some serious quality opponents this season including Miami (FL) and Florida. But Ohio State with prove to be too much.

Aaron Craft is the leader for the Buckeyes. and can give even the best point guards in the nation fits; just ask Trey Burke (Michigan). Craft controls the defense while Deshaun Thomas takes care of the offense. Thomas averages close to 20 points a game to go along with the six rebounds he averages per contest.

Ohio State and Gonzaga will meet in the Elite Eight with the Buckeyes returning to the Final Four. The main reason I see another top seed falling short of Atlanta is because the Buckeyes have played championship caliber games in the Big Ten every other contest this season.


My choice for potential bracket buster in the West region are the Wichita State Shockers. They are a big physical team and know how to drive opponents crazy. This team would not be new to deep runs in March, as they made the Sweet 16 in 2006 and last year Wichita State won the NIT. While the NIT doesn’t provide the type of heavy competition that the Big Dance does, it still gave the team valuable tournament experience. This team could give Gonzaga some trouble with their physicality, if they can survive an extremely similar Pittsburgh team.


The most overrated team in this region are the Kansas State Wildcats. They get the privilege of playing in front of a home crowd in Kansas City but I just don’t see this team getting by Wisconsin in the Round of 32. Head coach Bruce Weber will have this team getting better season-by-season but they aren’t quite there yet.


Moving onto the South region, where the Kansas Jayhawks are the No. 1 seed for what feels like the 100th time. Kansas is well-coached as Bill Self is as experienced and proven in March as they come. Freshman Ben McLemore is a stud and has a big payday ahead of him in the near future. With that said, McLemore has been extremely inconsistent this season, as have the Jayhawks overall.

In this region, I have another Sweet 16 featuring the top four seeds, Kansas, Georgetown, Florida and Michigan.

Michigan is extremely dangerous as a No. 4 seed and features the best point guard in the nation in the previously mentioned Burke. When it comes to elimination basketball, having a floor general with the ability of Burke is a key ingredient to success in March. I have the Wolverines surviving an insane test from VCU and getting past Kansas to reach the Elite Eight.

Kansas and Michigan are extremely similar in my opinion. Both feature an embarrassing road loss, TCU for Kansas and Penn State for Michigan. Both teams are also extremely inconsistent, Kansas had a stretch of three losses in a row and Michigan is 6-6 in its past 12 games

What it comes down to is the Big Ten. Michigan has played against the best teams in the nation night in and night out. They have also proven themselves against Big 12 co-champion Kansas St. when they beat the Wildcats by 14, earlier this season. Michigan is scary good on offense and below average on defense. For the Wolverines to succeed in March, they will need to rebound the ball.

In the bottom half I have Florida defeating Georgetown in an intriguing game. Florida can look like the best team in the country on some nights and extremely mediocre the next. Georgetown outside of Big East Player of the Year Otto Porter, is offensively challenged. The Hoyas play great defense and will need Porter to play like he has been, if they want any chance of eating some Georgia Peaches. Bottom line, Florida will outscore and outshoot the Hoyas to reach the Elite Eight and face Michigan and Burke.

Michigan will live up to preseason expectations and reach the Final Four by outgunning the Gators. Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. will score at will against Florida and the Gators will not be able to keep up. Florida’s worst loss of the season was against an Arkansas team that Michigan manhandled from buzzer-to-buzzer. That isn’t enough to base this selection on but the inconsistency in the SEC is not comparable to the inconsistency in the Big Ten.


The potential bracket buster in the South are the Villanova Wildcats. I don’t even have ‘Nova winning a game in the tournament but the fact is that Jay Wright‘s squad has been playing giant-killer all season long already, gives them a chance. If they can get by North Carolina then the sky is the limit.

On the season Villanova has defeated Louisville, Georgetown, Syracuse and Marquette. Inconsistency is the big downfall again as this team is 7-5 in their last 12 and have only shown flashes of their maximum potential.


The most overrated team in this region is UCLA, hands down. It is a complete shame that Oregon was awarded a 12-seed and UCLA a No. 6 seed.

They both come from the Pac-12, where Oregon had the better record and won the conference tournament championship. UCLA’s No. 6 seed is based on name and that alone. UCLA is without second-leading scorer Jordan Adams and will not be able to hang with the long and athletic Minnesota Gophers. Look past that UCLA name and base your picks on this season.


Finally we come to the East region, which features the Indiana Hoosiers as the No. 1 seed. They have been the favorites to win it all from day one and won the Big Ten regular season title. The Hoosiers are led by two of the best players in the country in Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller.

Indiana plays great defense and even better offense. They beat Michigan twice, Michigan State twice, got past Georgetown and split with Ohio State. Simply put, this team wins big games.

This is the region where I see things getting the most hairy early on. North Carolina State will push Indiana to the limit in the Round of 32. The Wolfpack have all the potential in the world and have not shown what they are capable of. What better motivation than getting a chance at Indiana on the biggest stage there is?

I have my highest seed in Davidson winning a game, as the No. 14 seed Wildcats will upset Marquette. No matter how many times I watch the Golden Eagles, I leave having no idea what I just witnessed. Marquette is extremely streaky and are not good at coming from behind. Davidson is the best free throw shooting team in the tournament and can shoot the lights out when they get going. In the last 12 games, Davidson is undefeated and I expect them to be a serious threat.

In the Sweet 16, I see Indiana playing Syracuse and Butler taking on Miami. The Hoosiers will dismantle Syracuse and their famed 2-3 zone defense. If you sit back and let Tom Crean‘s squad pick their spots, you’re toast. The Orange and their zone defense may have worked against terrible shooting teams like as Marquette and Georgetown but you can’t count on that to work against everyone.

Butler will once again prove that they are no Cinderella but a legitimate threat every single season and tournament. I see the Bulldogs taking down the Hurricanes, Miami is going to have to give everything they have to get past Illinois and I feel that Butler will be able to capitalize. Brad Stevens wins in March and the Bulldogs have beaten two No. 1 seeds in Indiana and Gonzaga, and have once again proven that this is no middle of the pack program.

With that said, Indiana will get their revenge against Butler in the Elite Eight. Oladipo is the key here, as his ability to shut anyone down is unbelievable. He is the most versatile defender in this tournament.


My bracket buster outside of Davidson, is the North Carolina State Wolfpack. The preseason pick to win the ACC and once a top five ranked team, they could find a spark and prove their believers right. C.J. Leslie is a monster on the boards and has the ability to single-handedly change a game. They are the type of team that could give Indiana trouble with their length and balanced attack, with a starting five that features five double digit scorers.


The most overrated team in this region are the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels. Yes, they have Anthony Bennett, who will be making waves in the NBA before too long, but this team just has not proven themselves when given the opportunity to do so. I was drinking the UNLV punch for awhile but you never know what version of this team is going to show up. Losing to Air Force and Fresno State with this level of talent is nearly unforgivable.


So here we are in the Final Four, call it what you will but I have three Big Ten teams in Atlanta. Indiana takes on Michigan for the third time and Duke and Ohio State meet again. The Buckeyes lost at Cameron Indoor early in the season 73-68 but this time it is on a neutral court. The way I see this playing out is Ohio St. shutting down Duke, Aaron Craft is the type of player that can make Seth Curry look like a high schooler. With his hands-on defense and tough mentality, Curry won’t be able to get his game started from the opening tip-off.

The Buckeyes led by eight at halftime and Duke responded with 50 points in the second half, in their last meeting. There is no chance that this happens again. Ohio State is coming off of a Big Ten tournament championship and are playing better than anyone in the nation.

Which will setup an all Big Ten title game.

The third time will not be the charm for the Michigan Wolverines, as Indiana has their number and will continue this trend in the Final Four. Cody Zeller will control the game on the inside and Tim Hardaway Jr. will be held ineffective, as he has been in most big games this season.


Ohio State and Indiana split their season series and this game will be a physical, grind it out type of game, going down to the wire. I believe in the theory that a team can get hot at the right time and go on a championship run, and right now that team is the Buckeyes.

I see Thad Matta getting his national championship after losing to Florida in the 2007 final. Deshaun Thomas is as good as they get and Aaron Craft is the type of player that everyone loves to hate. Indiana will get caught in the limelight and will fall short of their ultimate goal.