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2022 NCAA Tournament Bracket Picks: Our Bettors Debate Their March Madness Predictions

2022 NCAA Tournament Bracket Picks: Our Bettors Debate Their March Madness Predictions article feature image
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Justin Casterline/Getty Images. Pictured: Players run on a March Madness court.

If you haven’t been paying attention, Action Network analysts Mike Ianniello and Tanner McGrath have built up a rivalry over the past year.

During college football season, the two wrote a head-to-head article every week, with each taking one side of the week’s biggest college football game. The two also had a head-to-head pick ‘em competition during bowl season, which McGrath won convincingly.

But Ianniello wants his revenge. Therefore, the two are going head-to-head in a bracket challenge, with points decided by the general ESPN rules.

Outlined below are the two’s brackets and reasoning for each round’s decision. As you might be able to tell, one is a college hoops fanatic while the other is just a competitive college football fan.

Follow along to see who wins this challenge.

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McGrath’s Bracket Picks

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Ianniello’s Bracket Picks

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West Region

Round of 64

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 16 Georgia State

McGrath: Gonzaga rolls.

Ianniello: Gonzaga over Georgia state, obviously.


No. 8 Boise State vs. No. 9 Memphis

McGrath: Memphis’ metrics skyrocketed once Penny Hardaway shortened the lineup. AKA once he benched Emoni Bates, Memphis started streaking. I think Boise is slightly overvalued and will ride the Tigers as the Sacrificial Lamb for Gonzaga.

Ianniello: Boise State over Memphis because the blue turf is awesome. I’m not sure if it has a blue basketball court, but it should.


No. 5 UConn vs. No. 12 New Mexico State

McGrath: UConn squeaks by New Mexico State (But I’ll probably be on NMSU +6.5).

Ianniello: UConn over New Mexico State because I am from Connecticut and college basketball is literally all we have.


No. 4 Arkansas vs. No. 13 Vermont

McGrath: Oh wow This is the dream matchup for the Vermont Catamounts. If you need details, DM me on Twitter, but Cats by 20.

Ianniello: Tanner is from Vermont, so the Cats are obviously losing. Woo Pig Sooie.


No. 6 Alabama vs. No. 11 Rutgers/Notre Dame

McGrath: I will fade Alabama no matter who the Tide play. That team is high-variance with a bad defense.

Ianniello: My fiancé went to Alabama, so I want her to be happy.


No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 14 Montana State

McGrath: I love Montana State, but Texas Tech is a buzzsaw right now.

Ianniello: Montana State can’t possibly be good at basketball.


No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 10 Davidson

McGrath: Sparty is so overvalued. The turnovers are a huge problem for Izzo’s squad. Davidson is an electric factory on offense with four players who average double-digits with a TS% over 63%.

Ianniello: Davidson was awesome with Steph Curry, so it knows how to win in the tournament. Tom Izzo is also overrated.


No. 2 Duke vs. No. 15 Cal State Fullerton

McGrath: Duke squeaks this one out.

Ianniello: Duke can’t possibly let Coach K’s career end in the first round.


East Region

Round of 64

No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 16 Norfolk State

McGrath: Baylor rolls.

Ianniello: Baylor, obviously.


No. 8 North Carolina vs. No. 9 Marquette

McGrath: Tough matchup, but North Carolina is too talented for a Marquette team that struggled down the stretch. Bacot and Manek should be a tough out in March.

Ianniello: I just learned UNC has a player named Leaky Black. The whole world needs to find that out, so he will lead them to the next round.


No. 5 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 12 Indiana

McGrath: Saint Mary’s is a really, really good basketball team. Matthias Tass is so underrated as a big man and should give Trayce Jackson-Davis a run for his money. Tommy Kuhse can out-play any guard in the country, especially Xavier Johnson.

Ianniello: I’m not going to pick against Saint Mary during Lent!


No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 13 Akron

McGrath: It’s tight, but UCLA over Akron.

Ianniello: I’ll go with the big upset win for Akron. When trying to predict chaos, the MAC is always a good place to start.


No. 6 Texas vs. No. 11 Virginia Tech

McGrath: Virginia Tech just won four games in four days to win the ACC title. The Hokies are coming together. They’re well-coached and analytically sound and I really like them to make a run.

Ianniello: Virginia Tech just won the ACC, and Texas never wins anything.


No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 14 Yale

McGrath: Yale should win. But Purdue will win instead.

Ianniello: I can’t go full Connecticut homer, so I’ll pick against the Ivy League nerds and Boiler up.


No. 7 Murray State vs. No. 10 San Francisco

McGrath: This is the game putting every gambler on the fritz. I think Murray State is really good, and the Racers have the interior advantage over the Dons.

Ianniello: San Francisco gets the win because Murray isn’t even a state and Francisco is fun to say. 


No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 15 Saint Peter’s

McGrath: Kentucky rolls.

Ianniello: Kentucky is always good.

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South Region

Round of 64

No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 16 Wright State/Bryant

McGrath: Arizona rolls.

Ianniello: I know Arizona no longer has the coach that would sweat completely through his shirt by halftime, but it’s still really good.


No. 8 Seton Hall vs. No. 9 TCU

McGrath: Seton Hall is a dumpster fire. Absolutely collapsed in the second half of the season. TCU is frisky defensively and has shown the ability to show up in big moments. 

Ianniello: I know Jamie Dixon from his time at Pitt, so I know his team loses in the first round every single year.


No. 5 Houston vs. No. 12 UAB

McGrath: I love UAB with the points here (+8.5), FYI. But I will take Houston to advance.

Ianniello: I watched Jelly Walker by one game during the conference tournaments, and my goodness, is he electric! He is the perfect March Madness breakout player. UAB secures the upset.


No. 4 Illinois vs. No. 13 Chattanooga

McGrath: I wish I could bet Chattanooga in this game. I can’t. Trent Frazier and Alfonso Plummer make up the best defensive backcourt in the nation. They might put Malachi Smith in jail.

Ianniello: I’m very good friends with Chattanooga’s PR guy and equipment manager. Bias aside, Silvio De Sousa is a former Power Five guy, and Malachi Smith is one of the best guards in the tournament. Go Mocs!


No. 6 Colorado State vs. No. 11 Michigan

McGrath: I don’t believe in Michigan one bit. David Roddy might drop 40 on this Michigan team because he can get anything.

Ianniello: Everybody seems to hate Michigan, myself very much included. But I’ll fade the public and take the Wolverines.


No. 3 Tennessee vs. No. 14 Longwood

McGrath: Tennessee has too many advantages against Longwood on both sides of the ball.

Ianniello: I’m not going to make a Longwood joke because that would be immature. I’ll take Tennessee and move on.


No. 7 Ohio State vs. No. 10 Loyola Chicago

McGrath: Chris Holtmann has never made it past the second round of the tournament. Meanwhile, this is a battle-tested Ramblers team that has seen an offensive resurgence under Drew Valentine. The defense also trended up in Arch Madness, allowing about 50 points per game.

Ianniello: Sister Jean can’t possibly still be around, so Loyola is going to win in her honor. Plus, I’m not picking Michigan and Ohio State.


No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 15 Delaware

McGrath: Villanova wins but doesn’t cover -15.5.

Ianniello: Villanova beats Delaware in a fun little local matchup.


Midwest Region

Round of 64

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 16 Texas Southern

McGrath: Kansas rolls.

Ianniello: Kansas obviously wins.


No. 8 San Diego State vs. No. 9 Creighton

McGrath: San Diego State over Creighton is a complex pick, but I do think Matt Bradley pushes his team past the first round — especially because the Jays are due for a letdown game after that Big East run.

Ianniello: San Diego State games always have totals that are like 110, and I love the fact it seems it plays basketball the same way it plays football. I’ll take the Aztecs (and the under).


No. 5 Iowa vs. No. 12 Richmond

McGrath: I love Jacob Gilyard and Richmond, but the Iowa offense is rolling right now. The points are coming too easy.

Ianniello: Iowa is the hottest team in the country right now. 


No. 4 Providence vs. No. 13 South Dakota State

McGrath: South Dakota State beats Providence despite the whole world being on the Jackbunnies.

Ianniello: Providence is another one of those teams that everybody seems to keep saying sucks, but it always wins. I’ll fade the narratives again and take the Friars.


No. 6 LSU vs. No. 11 Iowa State

McGrath: LSU sneaks by Iowa State, but I hate both teams.

Ianniello: I know LSU just fired their coach for handing out bags of cash, but all the players who got the bags of cash are still on the team. So, I’ll back them.


No. 3 Wisconsin vs. No. 14 Colgate

McGrath: Wisconsin squeaks by Colgate, but I hate both teams.

Ianniello: Just like in football, Wisconsin is always in the mix but will never win the whole thing.


No. 7 USC vs. No. 10 Miami (FL)

McGrath: USC has too much length for Miami. Happy that the Hurricanes had a great season, but USC has matchup advantages and some killer players in Boogie Ellis and Isaiah Mobley.

Ianniello: Miami vs USC would be an elite early 2000s college football game. I’d much rather watch that. I’ll take the U.


No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 15 Jacksonville State

McGrath: Auburn rolls.

Ianniello: Did you know Jacksonville State is in Alabama and not Florida? That makes no sense, so I’ll take Auburn.


McGrath’s Round of 32

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 9 Memphis

Gonzaga rolls.


No. 5 UConn vs. No. 13 Vermont

Oh man. This one is so tough. I believe too much in my Cats, who have more offensive weapons than UConn.


No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 11 Rutgers

Texas Tech is a buzzsaw.


No. 2 Duke vs. No. 10 Davidson

I think Duke is the most overvalued team in the nation. The Blue Devils dominated a weak ACC, but they didn’t impress doing so. Davidson’s offense explodes in a second-weekend run.


No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 8 North Carolina

Baylor rolls.


No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 5 Saint Mary’s

Saint Mary’s is a really good team. UCLA has been overvalued since the Bruins were ranked No. 2 in the preseason AP Poll.


No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 11 Virginia Tech

I love Virginia Tech over Purdue. The Boilermakers can’t guard ball-screens. Virginia Tech is getting hot at the right time.


No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 7 Murray State

Kentucky rolls.


No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 9 TCU

Arizona rolls.


No. 4 Illinois vs. No. 5 Houston

Illinois’ backcourt over-pressures Houston’s ball-handling, especially with Sasser sidelined.


No. 3 Tennessee vs. No. 6 Colorado State

Tennessee’s offense was reinvigorated with Kennedy Chandler running the offense. The defense is legit, and that will make the difference against the Rams.


No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 10 Loyola Chicago

Villanova holds off Loyola Chicago in a jump-shooting contest.


No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 8 San Diego State

Kansas rolls.


No. 5 Iowa vs. No. 7 South Dakota State

Iowa takes down South Dakota State in the highest-scoring game in NCAA Tournament history.


No. 3 Wisconsin vs. No. 6 LSU

LSU beats Wisconsin in the lowest-scoring (and ugliest) game in NCAA Tournament history.


No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 7 USC

Auburn takes down USC mostly because of Jabari Smith, who is a big matchup advantage over a wing-heavy Tiger team.

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Ianniello’s Round of 32

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 8 Boise State

I hear Gonzaga is good and Drew Timme has a sweet mustache, so it’ll win again.


No. 4 Arkansas vs. No. 5 UConn

Again, Connecticut is great at two things: pizza and college basketball.


No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 6 Alabama

It isn’t fair if Alabama is good at everything, and I love Texas Tech basketball for some reason.


No. 2 Duke vs. No. 10 Davidson

Duke beats Davidson in the Curry Family Bowl.


No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 8 North Carolina

I know Baylor made the finals last year, so it’s experienced — and I hate North Carolina.


No. 5 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 13 Akron

Going with Saint Mary’s again, assuming it has the higher power on its side.


No. 1 Purdue vs. No. 11 Virginia Tech

The Big Ten is way tougher than the ACC, so Purdue should push around the Hokies.


No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 10 San Francisco

Kentucky is always good.


No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 8 Seton Hall

I’ll take Arizona to beat Seton Hall.


No. 12 UAB vs. No. 13 Chattanooga

As a contributing Mocs Club Member, I have to use my bias again and put Chattanooga in the Sweet 16.


No. 3 Tennessee vs. No. 11 Michigan

As long as Juwan Howard doesn’t assault anybody, Tennessee should be able to beat Michigan here.


No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 10 Loyola Chicago

As a Big East guy, I know how impressive it is to win that conference. Give me Villanova.


No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 8 San Diego State

Rock Chalk Jayhawk again.


No. 4 Providence vs. No. 5 Iowa

Iowa looked awesome during the Big Ten Tournament, which is basically all I watched all season.


No. 3 Wisconsin vs. No. 6 LSU

The lack of a coach catches up to LSU with the short turnaround. On Wisconsin.


No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 10 Miami

Miami’s football program is really looking up, while Auburn’s is a complete dumpster fire. The Tigers need this win a lot more.


McGrath’s Sweet 16

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 13 Vermont

Gonzaga rolls. I am sad. Go Cats forever.


No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 10 Davidson

Texas Tech is a buzzsaw. The Red Raiders have too much size and Davidson won’t overcome that.


No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 5 Saint Mary’s

Last season, everyone thought Baylor was in trouble after its COVID-19 pause. Scott Drew rallied the troops and led the Bears to a championship. Drew rallies the troops again and beats Randy Bennett in this one.


No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 11 Virginia Tech

As much as I love Virginia Tech, Kentucky’s offense is too talented. The Wildcats overpower the Hokies. 


No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 5 Houston

Arizona rolls.


No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 3 Tennessee

Rick Barnes exorcises his demons in the Sweet 16, gets by Jay Wright and locks up an Elite Eight appearance with Arizona


No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 5 Iowa

Iowa takes down Kansas. The Hawkeyes offense is rolling too well and Keegan Murray is playing like the best player in college basketball.


No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 6 LSU

Auburn beats LSU, as LSU becomes known as the worst Sweet 16 team of all time.


Ianniello’s Sweet 16

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 5 UConn

My heart says UConn, but my head says Gonzaga. Huskies are much cuter than Bulldogs, but I think Gonzaga is better at basketball.


No. 2 Duke vs. No. 3 Texas Tech

Coach K’s career lasts one more week, but Texas Tech sends him to the farm.


No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 5 Saint Mary’s

The divine run ends here, as Baylor moves on again.


No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 3 Purdue

Kentucky always has freak athletes all over the floor, and Purdue probably still has Robbie Hummel.


No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 13 Chattanooga

OK, the fairy tale run ends here. Arizona is just too big for the Mocs, and the Wildcats move on.


No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 3 Tennessee

How the hell is Collin Gillespie still at Villanova? Is Scottie Reynolds still there too? If that’s the case, I’m definitely picking Nova.


No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 5 Iowa

This was the hardest game for me to pick on the entire bracket. Iowa is scorching hot, but Kansas is just always so good. I’ll take the Jayhawks.


No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 3 Wisconsin

I bet on Texas A&M in the SEC Tournament when it beat Auburn, and that was the first time I watched the Tigers this year. Wisconsin can beat them.


McGrath’s Elite Eight

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 3 Texas Tech

Too tough. But Few has more talent than Adams. Therefore, Zags roll.


No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 2 Kentucky

I’ll take Kentucky to beat Baylor. The Wildcats have a more talented roster with a higher upside, and I’m not sure who stops Oscar Tshiebwe without Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua on the interior.


No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 3 Tennessee

Arizona rolls. Rick Barnes is 1-12 against the spread in his last 13 NCAA Tournament games, and he can only exorcise so many demons.


No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 5 Iowa

Iowa’s offense runs too well, and the Auburn backcourt proves too inexperienced for Bruce Pearl.


Ianniello’s Elite Eight

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 3 Texas Tech

Chet Holmgren might be the most unathletic-looking person I’ve ever seen. I just can’t trust him to win a championship. The Red Raiders knock off the 1-seed. Wreck em!


No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 2 Kentucky

I do know Baylor has dealt with injuries and Kentucky has talent and depth — and that Oscar Tshiebwe dude is nasty. Kentucky moves on to the Final Four.


No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 2 Villanova

In the battle of the Wildcats, I know Jay Wright is an excellent coach. He has led Villanova to two national titles. I have no idea who Arizona’s head coach is. I’ll take the better coach and go with Villanova.


No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 3 Wisconsin

McGrath: Like I said, Wisconsin is always good, but not great. It’ll win the Big Ten West and then get smoked by Ohio State. This is that big game it can’t win. Kansas moves on to the Final Four.


McGrath’s Final Four

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 2 Kentucky

Gonzaga vs. Kentucky is the toughest match for me to pick in my bracket. Unfortunately, I really believe this is Gonzaga’s year.


No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 5 Iowa

Arizona rolls Iowa, which ends the best run of Fran McCaffery’s career.


Ianniello’s Final Four

No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 3 Texas Tech

The biggest storylines I always hear about in college basketball are the ones that cross over into national media, and that is usually scandals and drama. Like most college sports fans, I live for that. I am a firm believer, if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying. The teams that get accused of cheating the most are probably either cheating, or they’re just really good. Or both.


No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 2 Villanova

I’ll take Kentucky and Kansas to meet in the title game for that reason. Yes, I know Arizona is cheating too, but it fired its coach. Kansas didn’t.


McGrath’s National Championship

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 11 Arizona

Unfortunately, I really believe this is Gonzaga’s year.


Ianniello’s National Championship

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 2 Kentucky

In the championship rubber match between Bill Self and John Calipari, I will go with Self and Rock Chalk Jayhawks.

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