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Three Man Weave’s Consensus NCAA Tournament Bracket: Picks for All 63 Games

Three Man Weave’s Consensus NCAA Tournament Bracket: Picks for All 63 Games article feature image

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Drew Timme (Gonzaga)

With the NCAA Tournament’s Round of 64 tipping off on Thursday, the madness is officially back.

With that in mind, the Three Man Weave crew (Jim Root, Ky McKeon and Matt Cox) have provided a full bracket to help guide you to winning your pool.

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West Region · First Round

(1) Gonzaga vs. (16) Georgia State
3 – 0
(8) Memphis vs. (9) Boise State
2 – 1
(5) UConn vs. (12) New Mexico State
3 – 0
(4) Arkansas vs. (13) Vermont
2 – 1
(6) Alabama vs. (11) Rutgers / Notre Dame
2 – 1
(3) Texas Tech vs. (14) Montana State
3 – 0
(7) Michigan State vs. (10) Davidson
3 – 0
(2) Duke vs. (15) Cal State Fullerton
3 – 0

No. 4 Arkansas vs. No. 13 Vermont

I love Vermont and want them to beat Arkansas, but I’m worried about the Hogs’ athleticism. Vermont doesn’t stack up as well against power competition compared to its America East prey.

Arkansas has perfect matchups for Ryan Davis, in particular Jaylin Williams, who is mobile enough to defend on the perimeter and strong enough to battle on the block.

A play-in team always makes the Second Round. I don’t think Saint Mary’s will lose, so that leaves Alabama, a team that has been Jekyll & Hyde all season. Alabama is one poor effort away from being bounced by a solid Rutgers or Notre Dame squad.

The concern over Vermont’s lack of competition in the AE is valid, but it’s kind of a mini version of the narrative that has always (incorrectly) surrounded Gonzaga.

Either the team is awesome or it’s not, and I believe the Catamounts are for real. The offense is a fireworks show, and they were not out of their element against Northern Iowa, Maryland and Providence.

It will be a long night of self loathing when Vermont inevitably goes 15-for-30 from 3 and Davis does a George Mikan impersonation on the block.

My gut tells me Williams is the ultimate neutralizer up front to Vermont’s interior meal ticket (Davis). It also tells me the Razorbacks’ “spurtability” is a terrifying force that only a few teams can withstand.

This Vermont rendition is more athletic than prior renditions but there will be an unavoidable adjustment period after playing in the America East kiddie pool for months (maybe I’m talking myself into Pig Suey 1H?)

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

This is mostly about the Tide. They are far too streaky to be trustworthy, and Rutgers has the defenders to make life miserable on the Tide’s scorers.

Both Rutgers and Notre Dame will slow the tempo, and Alabama’s offense frequently struggles in the half-court.

This is mostly a spot play. The winner will finish their play-in game at 10:30 PM local time in Dayton, then have to fly out west to San Diego, where they’ll play in the early time slot on Friday.

Ok fine — I’m still married to the Jekyll & Hyde Tide.

West Region · Round of 32

(1) Gonzaga vs. (9) Memphis
3 – 0
(4) Arkansas vs. (5) UConn
3 – 0
(3) Texas Tech vs. (11) Rutgers / Notre Dame
3 – 0
(2) Duke vs. (10) Davidson
2 – 1

No. 2 Duke vs. No. 10 Davidson

Duke is just too athletic for Davidson. Davidson’s weakness is always on defense, and it will not be able to stop Duke on this end.

Duke has enough length and athleticism to perhaps bother the gorgeous Davidson motion offense and get good close-outs on perimeter shooters.

This one is about Duke’s defense for me. The Blue Devils tailed off on that end in a big way, and the Wildcats’ spacing and shooting can exploit that — very similar to Virginia Tech in the ACC final.

Athleticism is a concern, but I am encouraged by Davidson beating a team like Alabama on a neutral floor.

The locality of these two Carolina based programs adds real juice to this HOF coaching showdown. Bob McKillop could find ways to exploit Duke’s predictable defensive schemes (over switching, mainly) but he just doesn’t have the horses to pull it off.

West Region · Sweet 16

(1) Gonzaga vs. (5) UConn
3 – 0
(2) Duke vs. (3) Texas Tech
3 – 0

West Region · Elite 8

(1) Gonzaga vs. (3) Texas Tech
3 – 0

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East Region · First Round

(1) Baylor vs. (16) Norfolk State
3 – 0
(8) North Carolina vs. (9) Marquette
3 – 0
(5) Saint Mary’s vs. (12) Indiana
3 – 0
(4) UCLA vs. (13) Akron
3 – 0
(6) Texas vs. (11) Virginia Tech
3 – 0
(3) Purdue vs. (14) Yale
3 – 0
(7) Murray State vs. (10) San Francisco
3 – 0
(2) Kentucky vs. (15) Saint Peter’s
3 – 0

East Region · Round of 32

(1) Baylor vs. (9) Marquette
3 – 0
(4) UCLA vs. (5) Saint Mary’s
2 – 1
(3) Purdue vs. (11) Virginia Tech
2 – 1
(2) Kentucky vs. (7) Murray State
3 – 0

No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 5 Saint Mary’s

Saint Mary’s may not get attention on the national stage, but rest assured, the Gaels can play. Only three teams beat Gonzaga this season: Alabama, Duke and Saint Mary’s — that’s good enough for me.

Randy Bennett will have this game at a crawl and have an ace gameplan for Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Johnny Juzang. Don’t sleep on the Gaels.

UCLA is a team I’ve been a little lower on than consensus all season. The Juzang/Jaquez duo scares me, and UCLA thrives on difficult mid-range jump shots. But Saint Mary’s is simply too disciplined on both ends of the floor. The Gaels do not beat themselves, and they patiently hunt quality shots.

UCLA’s trending back toward the Bruins of old. Juzang’s healthier. Tyger Campbell looks steady at the point. The supporting cast is also better — look at the numbers Jules Bernard and Jaquez have put up lately.

Against Saint Mary’s, you need to make shots. That’s galaxy brain level analysis, I know, but seriously. The Gaels run you off the 3-point line on the perimeter and leave nothing easy at the rim. The “no man’s land” middle-ground is where UCLA thrives, especially Juzang — a mid-range assassin.

No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 11 Virginia Tech

Purdue’s size is going to overwhelm Virginia Tech. Keve Aluma and Justyn Mutts are very good frontcourt players in their own right, but neither can match the size and power of Zach Edey and Trevion Williams.

Also, Jaden Ivey is a potential March star.

I was hunting a spot to fade Purdue’s sieve-like defense, and Virginia Tech’s scorching offense is the perfect fit. The Hokies’ execution and mobile big men will exploit Purdue’s shaky perimeter defense and slow-footed centers.

East Region · Sweet 16

(1) Baylor vs. (5) Saint Mary’s
2 – 1
(2) Kentucky vs. (3) Purdue
3 – 0

No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 5 Saint Mary’s

Baylor shouldn’t be taken lightly because its short-handed. This team beat Kansas and Texas short-handed. The Bears are a top-five team short-handed.

Baylor is too talented and too athletic to fall to Saint Mary’s, but it will be a grind of a game.

This is a big swing, I’ll admit it. But Saint Mary’s controlled a game against Gonzaga, and I think the Gaels can hang with Baylor, as well. Both teams are physical and smart, and the Bears have some legit offensive weapons.

But Tommy Kuhse’s emergence as a ball screen maestro gives SMC some added juice on offense — enough for me to take the swing.

Jim may be onto something, especially if another injury landmine explodes on the ailing Bears. Freshman phenom Kendall Brown is the latest addition to the injury report after sustaining a lower body injury against Oklahoma.

Early reports are that he’ll be available, but it’s yet another potential pain point for a team on their last leg.

East Region · Elite 8

(1) Baylor vs. (2) Kentucky
3 – 0

South Region · First Round

(1) Arizona vs. (16) Wright State / Bryant
3 – 0
(8) Seton Hall vs. (9) TCU
3 – 0
(5) Houston vs. (12) UAB
3 – 0
(4) Illinois vs. (13) Chattanooga
2 – 1
(6) Colorado State vs. (11) Michigan
2 – 1
(3) Tennessee vs. (14) Longwood
3 – 0
(7) Ohio State vs. (10) Loyola Chicago
3 – 0
(2) Villanova vs. (15) Delaware
3 – 0

No. 4 Illinois vs. No. 13 Chattanooga

Of all the teams seeded 12 and below there is only one who can matchup and potentially beat Illinois: Chattanooga. Why? Three reasons:

  1. The Mocs have power conference caliber size. Center Silvio De Sousa is a Kansas down transfer
  2. The Mocs have excellent, experienced guards who can take over ball games. Malachi Smith is the SoCon Player of the Year and David Jean-Baptiste is as clutch a shot-maker as we have in the country
  3. Chattanooga’s slow style lends to a lower possession game, which in turn lends to higher variance. The Mocs are going to squeeze the clock and disallow Illinois to take control.

I was totally prepared to take the Mocs as a moneyline dog against a top seed, but this matchup bums me out.

Kofi Cockburn has issues operating in space, so the Illinois defense is vulnerable to ball screens (it faces the most in the country, per Synergy).

Chattanooga runs very little pick-and-roll, which lets the Illini off the hook somewhat.

I’m tempted by the Mocs, but not enough to send Illinois home immediately.

The committee dealt the Mocs — along with quadrant mate UAB — a horrible hand. Jim hit the key matchup points. Loyola showed us this blueprint in the NCAA Tournament last year. It’s hard to replicate and the Mocs, while dangerous, just aren’t constructed that way.

South Region · Round of 32

(1) Arizona vs. (9) TCU
3 – 0
(4) Illinois vs. (5) Houston
3 – 0
(3) Tennessee vs. (11) Michigan
3 – 0
(2) Villanova vs. (10) Loyola Chicago
3 – 0

South Region · Sweet 16

(1) Arizona vs. (5) Houston
2 – 1
(2) Villanova vs. (3) Tennessee
3 – 0

No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 5 Houston

Houston is going to be a 1 or 2-point underdog to Arizona. The Cougars, despite missing two key guards for most of the season, are one of the best teams in the country.

Their 5-seed does not reflect that.

Houston is dangerous because of its defense. Look no further than the Final Four run last season to see how defenses can spur deep tournament runs.

Arizona will have a difficult time scoring inside against arguably the best interior defense in the nation.

The injury to Arizona point guard Kerr Kriisa is also concerning. If he’s out, Arizona will be exposed to turnovers and its offense could stall.

This rationale is going to get repetitive, but I fully buy this Arizona team. The Wildcats have the size to combat Houston’s relentless rim attack, both off the bounce and on the glass.

The spread will be extremely short, but I prefer Arizona’s roster to Houston’s, and the coaching matchup is a wash.

Kriisa’s absence is worrying, but I do not think it catches up to the Wildcats quite yet.

Arizona’s depth is concerning but in a one game vacuum, its core 7-man rotation (assuming Kriisa is out) is potent. Bennedict Mathurin can double as a primary initiator, as can the hyper versatile Dalen Terry (refer to that stellar performance against UCLA on Feb. 8).

South Region · Elite 8

(1) Arizona vs. (2) Villanova
2 – 1

Jay Wright in March? With a senior point guard? With a group of talented, long wings who can guard 1-5? Sign me the hell up.

Villanova is super dangerous in the NCAA Tournament because it competes on both ends of the floor at a high level. Nova has a top-30 defense and a top-10 offense. The Cats can shoot and they don’t make mistakes.

Again, the Kriisa injury comes into play here as a key reason to fade Arizona.

It’s Arizona again! This is a talent level win for me. Arizona lays over Villanova at almost every position here, and the Wildcats’ size could bury Wright’s smaller lineups in the paint. Arizona is huge in the backcourt, notably negating Villanova’s post ups with Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore.

Beating Villanova is never easy unless its frigid from beyond the arc, but Arizona has the requisite physicality and perimeter skill to get it done.

Ky may get me here. If this matchup comes to fruition, this will be the biggest tempo tug-of-war of the tournament. Villanova can limit transition and defend the post, two musts against the Wildcats.

This is more of a macro take on Villanova, I guess. They don’t scare me in the same way the prior great teams did, and you need that kind of firepower to keep pace with Arizona.

Midwest Region · First Round

(1) Kansas vs. (16) Texas Southern
3 – 0
(8) San Diego State vs. (9) Creighton
3 – 0
(5) Iowa vs. (12) Richmond
3 – 0
(4) Providence vs. (13) South Dakota State
3 – 0
(6) LSU vs. (11) Iowa State
2 – 1
(3) Wisconsin vs. (14) Colgate
2 – 1
(7) USC vs. (10) Miami
3 – 0
(2) Auburn vs. (15) Jacksonville State
3 – 0

Midwest Region · Round of 32

(1) Kansas vs. (8) San Diego State
3 – 0
(5) Iowa vs. (13) South Dakota State
3 – 0
(11) Iowa State vs. (14) Colgate
2 – 1
(2) Auburn vs. (7) USC
2 – 1

No. 11 Iowa State vs. No. 14 Colgate

I think Wisconsin beats Colgate in the 1st Round, because I’m not a psychopath like my esteemed colleagues. But, if we assume the matchup is Clones vs. Colgate, I’ll take the Clones.

Defense is a theme in the teams I’m riding in early/mid-rounds. Iowa State is one of the best defensive teams in the country. It ranks 17th in the country in 3P% defense.

Colgate first and foremost is a 3-point shooting team. ISU will scrap and fight harder than any opponent Colgate has faced all season. The Raiders don’t want a war, they want to keep their fingernails clean.

Shockingly, Colgate has (by far) the better offense in a battle with a Big 12 foe. Plus, the Raiders take care of the basketball, the ultimate key against Iowa State’s pressure defense.

If the Cyclones cannot get easy buckets via turnovers, they struggle mightily to score. The athleticism gap is concerning, but not insurmountable — particularly given Colgate’s ability to get hot from deep.

What a dream draw for Matt Langel and the Raiders. He got slotted against a loaded Tennessee team in 2019, competed admirably, but fell short.

Last year, Colgate ran into another loaded crop of athletes in Arkansas — the pressure ultimately got to the Raiders.

What a breath of fresh air! The “buzzcut” Badgers’ aren’t going to pressure. So, the Raiders will make every shot under the sun and end Johnny Davis’ encore for his Player of the Year campaign.

Then, they’ll parlay that momentum against the offensively challenged Cyclones to keep the magic carpet ride alive! Iowa State could very well snap out of its funk finally free of the Big-12 gauntlet, but this low-possession, high-variance game plays well for the Raiders’ shot at a Sweet 16 berth.

As the founding member of the Jordan Burns fan club, I am contractually obligated to ride Colgate.

No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 7 USC

USC is no match for Auburn because you cannot score inside against Auburn. Walker Kessler averages more blocks per game by himself than most teams in the country.

USC doesn’t want to be a jump-shooting team, but you have to be a jump-shooting team to beat Auburn. The Trojans have no answer for NBA top-five pick Jabari Smith. Bruce Pearl over Andy Enfield everyday and twice on Sunday.

I cannot take this USC team, whose strength is its interior fortitude, against perhaps the best frontcourt in the country. Auburn is a better USC.

I cannot believe I am dissenting with the Fight On Trojans, a common fade of mine during Enfield’s early years. Alas, the former FGCU tournament darling has done nothing but overachieve in the dance since. He’s made seismic adjustments defensively, forcing me to reconsider my initial priors.

Against Miami (FL), he’ll need to be sharp with the clipboard. But this is less of a matchup play and more of a USC value play. USC’s better than its pedestrian analytical numbers indicate. Not unlike its crosstown brethren UCLA, it’s been a while since we’ve seen the Trojans’ true A-game.

Midwest Region · Sweet 16

(1) Kansas vs. (5) Iowa
2 – 1
(2) Auburn vs. (14) Colgate
3 – 0

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 5 Iowa

Kansas is Kansas. The Jayhawks are arguably the second-best team in the country, and are playing their best basketball when it matters most.

KU will have no issue scoring on a porous Iowa defense. The Hawkeyes are fireballs themselves, but KU is the better defensive team. If this is a “who outscores the other” battle, KU will emerge victorious.

KU has an advantage inside with David McCormack and big, versatile bodies like Jalen Wilson to stick on Keegan Murray.

I might be crazy for this, but I am buying this Hawkeyes squad. Fran McCaffery has never made a second weekend, so projecting him to the Elite Eight is quite a leap, but this team is different.

Murray is the best player on the floor — yes, even against Ochai Agbaji — and this version of Iowa actually defends with tenacity.

Kansas had a great run through the Big 12 Tournament, but the Jayhawks’ lackluster play to end the regular season still lingers in my mind.

McCaffery deserves Coach of the [calendar] Year. Iowa is on another planet right now. Maybe this team is better than last year’s Luka Garza squad after all.

Iowa’s improved defense is predicated on forcing turnovers, predominantly.

I loved what I saw from Remy Martin in the last two Big 12 Tournament tilts: 22 points, seven assists, ZERO turnovers. Along with the other known commodities, I trust KU to “play their game” and find the holes in Iowa’s defense.

Midwest Region · Elite 8

(1) Kansas vs. (2) Auburn
2 – 1

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 2 Auburn

Auburn’s non-home erratic play has me scared to back the Tigers to the Final Four and beyond. Guards Wendell Green Jr. and K.D. Johnson are awesome, but they have a tendency to make very stupid mistakes.

Kansas doesn’t make many mistakes — it’s a poised team featuring the best pure scorer in this matchup in Agbaji. The McCormack vs. Kessler battle in the middle will be epic.

As noted above, I believe Kansas goes out against Iowa’s potent offensive attack. Pitted against Auburn’s elite interior defense and a future NBA star in Smith, I still believe the Jayhawks come up short.

Auburn’s guards are erratic, but they have a high ceiling, and Tigers’ frontcourt can control the game when the backcourt has lulls.

I simply don’t trust Auburn to get this far, even with a fairly easy draw at the bottom half of the Midwest bracket.

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Final Four

(1) Gonzaga vs. (2) Kentucky
3 – 0
(1) Arizona vs. (1) Kansas
2 – 1

No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 1 Kansas

Gonzaga has been my title pick all year long. I love them — go Mark Few.

Kansas over Arizona for reasons stated above. Kansas is one of the most complete teams in the country, especially if Martin can continue to provide solid point guard play, as he did in the Big 12 Tournament.

I don’t trust Arizona sans Kriisa.

Ky hates Arizona! Ky hates Tommy Lloyd! Natives of Tucson, show him your wrath!

Really, though, this is a tight matchup. The differentiator is that I think Arizona owns the paint via Azuolas Tubelis and Christian Koloko. Both teams have elite wings, both teams have questions at point guard — but I will take the Wildcats’ bigs over McCormack and Mitch Lightfoot.

From a Zags believer last year and a loyal follower this year, I remain committed to the cause. There’s no Baylor lurking at the other side of this bracket — that is, another historically great adversary waiting.

Kansas is very good, but not great. KU’s Big 12 Tournament title masked a rather hot-and-cold frontline, which the Zags could swiftly expose.

2022 National Championship

(1) Gonzaga vs. (1) Arizona
3 – 0

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