April 5, 2020

Lynq Sports

bet on it

By: CBB Staff

With the 2019/2020 college basketball season cancelled due to a very serious and deadly viral outbreak, we’re left simply guessing who would take Virginia’s place at the top of the amateur hoops mountain. Being so starved for sports and competition in general, we at Lynq Sports decided to give you our analysis and opinions on who the best teams in the country really were. We mainly used Joe Lunardi’s bracket with a few minor adjustments where we didn’t see eye to eye. Below are our picks for the round of 64, what’re your thoughts?

Midwest (Indianapolis)

#1 Kansas vs #16 Siena

It’s now been two years since UMBC took down Virginia in the first 16 seed upset in March Madness history, but that’s not happening here. Udoka Azubuike is a glass-eating dunk machine and Devon Dotson is on a revenge tour after getting left off the first team All-America list. Kansas has no issues in this one. 

– Nick Stavas (@nickstavas)

#8 Houston vs #9 Marquette

Despite losing six of their last seven and coming in below their opponents, Marquette pulls off the upset over the alma mater of Phi Slamma Jamma. Houston probably wished Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwan and Clyde “The Glide” Drexler were still around to play defense as Markus Howard torches the Cougars with his elite scoring. With Caleb Mills and Quinten Grimes neutralized, Marquette survives the first round this year as they move on to play the Jayhawks.

Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)

#5 Auburn vs #12 Liberty

Liberty returns much of the core that knocked off Mississippi State in the Round of 64 last year. Do they have the firepower to knock off two SEC opponents in two years? You bet. Auburn comes limping into the tournament with a .500 record over their last 10 games. Liberty lost to SEC opponent LSU in December, but it has served as a learning lesson for the Flames. Stingy defense and clutch threes made by Caleb Homesley in the second half are the knockout punch to Bruce Pearl’s Auburn team. 

Jack O’Keefe (@jpokeefe1s)

#4 Wisconsin vs #13 North Texas

Wisconsin is playing its best basketball of the season right now. They closed the season on an 8 game win streak that was even good enough to earn them a share of the Big 10 crown. No Ethan Happ or Frank Kaminsky type superstar on this iteration for the Badgers. Instead, they sport a very balanced lineup that will get the job done against the Mean Green of North Texas. On Wisconsin!

– Matthew Vale (@matthewvale15)

#6 Iowa vs #11 East Tennessee State

Upset alert! This East Tennessee State team is a force to be reckoned with. They have 30 wins for a reason and followed it up by winning the regular season and tournament titles in what has become a very competitive Southern conference. ETSU does not sport the best offense but Iowa cannot play defense. On the other side of the ball, look for the Bucs to frustrate player of the year Luka Garza and do just enough to take down the Hawkeyes. ETSU moves on.

– Matthew Vale (@matthewvale15)

#3 Duke vs #14 Belmont

Belmont is a team built to upset good opponents in the tournament. They have an experienced combination of good scorers, they’ve won 12 straight games coming into the tournament, and they hit threes at a crazy rate. Unfortunately, Duke is the perfect team to combat tournament time sorrows. They suffered some upsets early in the season and trot out a ridiculously talented group of players led by sophomore guard Tre Jones. Duke’s offense is 2nd best in the country (Belmont’s is 14th) and they defend the three point arc at the 4th best rate in the country. The Blue Devils advance.

Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)

#7 Providence vs #10 Arizona State

The Friars finished their season with 6 straight convincing wins against some of the toughest competition in the country. They’ve been shooting the lights of our Big East gyms and were a great sleeper pick to win the conference tournament. Few teams had late-season success even close to Providence. Arizona State’s only chance would be from quick points off of turnovers but with the high volume of shooting Providence exhibits, it would be tough to match the energy. 

– Quin Pezoldt (@QuintenEveret16)

#2 Kentucky vs #15 North Dakota State

As a consensus pick Kentucky moves on past North Dakota State. Winners of nine out of their last ten, Kentucky uses a refreshing blend of depth and experience to beat the high scoring Bison, who never really stood a chance in the first place.

Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)

East (New York)

Play-In Games

#16 Robert Morris defeats #16 Robert Morris

#12 Texas defeats #12 Richmond

#11 Northern Iowa defeats #11 UCLA

#1 Dayton vs #16 Robert Morris

Dayton hasn’t lost a game since an overtime heartbreaker against Colorado on December 21. They’ve since torn through the A-10, rattling off 20 victories in a row with the help of human  highlight reel and first team All-American Obi Toppin, who averaged 20 points per game while shooting over 60% from the field. Sorry, but Robert Morris might just want to forfeit this one.

– Nick Stavas (@nickstavas)

#8 Colorado vs #9 Florida

Florida finished towards the top of the SEC with a heartbreaking 1-point loss to Kentucky in the season finale. Colorado finished their season losing their last 4 games going into the Pac-12 Tournament and dropped off the AP Top-25. The Gators and Buffaloes play a slow paced game where they’d both score in the 60’s and Florida would pull out a win because Andrew Nemhard, Kerry Blackshear, and Keyontae Johnson bully the Buffaloes with offensive boards. With Colorado’s lack of scoring this should go to the Gators.

– Quin Pezoldt (@QuintenEveret16)

#5 Butler vs #12 Texas

Our CBB team voted Texas to get into the first four, advance to the round of 64, and upset Butler in the first round. I was a strong advocate for the Longhorns as they were finally finding their stride down the stretch. Texas had won five out of their final six games. I was really looking forward to seeing McConaughey on the bench for the tournament. 

– Trent Pruitt (@the_real_pruitt)

#4 Maryland vs #13 Akron

The size and strength of the Maryland Terrapins are too much for the Akron Zips to handle. Jalen Smith establishes himself early and often in the post, picking up a double-double just minutes into the second half. Maryland held opponents to 39.9% from the field this season (31st in Division-I). Today is no exception as the Zips shoot an abysmal 28% from the field. The Maryland Terrapins cruise into the Round of 32. 

Jack O’Keefe (@jpokeefe1s)

#6 Penn State vs #11 Northern Iowa

After watching Penn State earlier in the season I was convinced they were a true contender, but after their blowout of Purdue, the Nittany Lions have fallen off precipitously. They lost five of seven and capped the regular season with a road loss to Northwestern. UNI also finished their season with a neutral site loss to Drake, but if that game was cancelled UNI would have finished 25-5, winning eight of their last ten. The dropoff of shooting and defense from Penn State is enough to allow AJ Green and the Panthers to kick in the door and knock off Penn State. 

Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)

#3 Villanova vs #14 Hofstra

Villanova head coach, Jay Wright, squaring off against where his first head coaching opportunity came to fruition: Hofstra University. Much like Delaware, who lost by single digits to Villanova this year, the CAA Hofstra Pride knock down a double-digit amount of three-pointers in this contest. Desure Buie contributes five three pointers just himself in the second half for Hofstra. It is the poise from Villanova point guard, Collin Gillespie, and a few big defensive rebounds and free throws from Jeremiah Robinson-Earl that has the Villanova Wildcats winning by two possessions. Leave it to Jay Wright’s former employer to give him a scare like that in the Round of 64.

Jack O’Keefe (@jpokeefe1s)

#7 West Virginia vs #10 Utah State

Our team with the upset in this 7 vs 10 matchup. West Virginia has really been free falling down the last month of the season losing 6 of their last 7 in February before winning their last two games of the season. These are two of the best rebounding teams in the country with the Aggies slightly edging the mountaineers, #2 vs #5 in terms of rebounding margin. Utah State is also 9th in assist rate in the county and that extra passing will break down a tough West Virginia defense to pull the upset. 

– Matthew Vale (@matthewvale15)

#2 Florida State vs #15 Northern Kentucky

I’ve been high on Florida State all season long. On the Chicago Plus the Point Podcast about three weeks ago, I gave them out as my favorite pick to win the whole tournament. With all of that being said, I don’t think Northern Kentucky will even keep this game close. Additionally, I think FSU has a very easy path to the Final Four.

– Trent Pruitt (@the_real_pruitt)

West (Los Angeles) 

Play-In Games

Prairie View A&M defeats North Carolina Central University

#1 Gonzaga vs #16 Prairie View A&M

Gonzaga is the best offensive team in the country (#1 according to KenPom). The Bulldogs also sport the 4th best rebounding margin in the country. Prairie View does not stand a chance. Pick Gonzaga to win big.

– Matthew Vale (@matthewvale15)

#8 LSU vs #9 Oklahoma

If you like offense then half of this game would probably be for you! LSU is one of the best scoring teams in the nation, pouring in the 9th highest PPG average in the nation. On the other hand, Oklahoma scored only 70.2 PPG, good for a lowly 206th in the country. Regardless, neither team plays very good defense so this one is set up to be a shootout. Under those circumstances, LSU is certainly favored as they have five players averaging over 11 PPG. Geaux Tigers!

Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)

#5 Michigan vs #12 Yale

Yale played Penn State earlier this season only to find themselves just coming up short 58-56. We know Yale has made some noise in the tournament before, and this is one of the more sexy “12-5 upsets” in the tournament this year. Unfortunately, Zavier Simpson and the Wolverines probe the Yale defense like a surgeon in the operating room. Much like in the Gonzaga game, where Zavier Simpson dropped 13 assists, Simpson records a double-double with his scoring and assists to lead the Wolverines to victory. Yale had a good season but they simply run into a Wolverine offense that is firing on all cylinders. 

Jack O’Keefe (@jpokeefe1s)

#4 Oregon vs #13 New Mexico State

I don’t know how far the Ducks will go in the tournament, but I do know they’ll take care of business in the opening round. Led by Payton Pritchard, Oregon won the PAC-12 with a 24-7 record. Oregon had the 4th best 3-point percentage in the country, hitting 39.6% of shots from deep. New Mexico State had an excellent season at 25-6, but they won’t be able to keep up with the PAC-12 Champs.

-Trent Pruitt (@the_real_pruitt)

#6 BYU vs #11 Indiana

If you were to get rid of a really odd conference tournament game against a scorching hot St. Mary’s team, BYU would have won 10 of their last 11 with the only loss coming by a single point. Indiana finished their regular season with a big win over Nebraska but looked absolutely terrible against most of the Big Ten. With Jake Toolson, TJ Haws, and Yoeli Childs combining for 51 points per game, Indiana never had a chance of stopping the Mormans.

Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)

#3 Seton Hall vs #14 Eastern Washington

After having the Big East regular season title all but wrapped up, Seton Hall suffered losses to both Villanova and Creighton in the final week, forcing them to share the title with those two squads. Needless to say Seton Hall would be out for blood in this one. First team All-American and Big East POTY Myles Powell wants to end his college career on a good note, and it starts with a blowout win over Eastern Washington. The Eagles are no slouches when it comes to mid-majors, finishing with a 23-8 record and winning the Big Sky regular season championship, but they’d need a miracle to knock off Seton Hall here. 

– Nick Stavas (@nickstavas)

#7 Arizona vs #10 Texas Tech

Another upset! If you can remember way back to about a year ago, you might recall that Texas Tech played Virginia in the national championship game. The Red Raiders were this close to shocking the basketball world. The only real loss from that team was Jarrett Culver and everyone else got better. Arizona, on the other hand, was very up and down all season in a conference that wasn’t very difficult. The only time they looked decent was against teams that simply played bad basketball. Chris Beard’s defense will help Texas Tech get past Sean Miller’s soaking wet shirts.

Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)

#2 San Diego State vs #15 UC Irvine

After coming in second in the Mountain West Tournament, the Aztecs will be out for blood. This is a team that was entering the end of the season undefeated and needed to learn how to lose if they wanted to succeed. Now that they have their losses, San Diego State should be poised to make a convincing run to the Sweet Sixteen. With how unimpressive UC Irvine’s defense is and how good San Diego State’s offense is, this isn’t a big obstacle for the Aztecs. 

– Quin Pezoldt (@QuintenEveret16)

South (Houston) 

#1 Baylor vs #16 Winthrop

Baylor finished the regular season 26-4. They were a force all year thanks to the guard combo of Jared Butler & MaCio Teague. No chance Winthrop Eagles were pulling an upset here.

– Trent Pruitt (@the_real_pruitt)

#8 St. Mary’s vs #9 Rutgers

This should be a very competitive game between two opposing styles. St Mary’s is led by their offense (16th in the country), while Rutgers is led by their strong defense (6th in the country). Conversely, The Gaels offense leaves something to be desired (96th in the country), vs Rutgers mediocre offense (72nd in the country). One of them has to give and I think it will be Rutgers offense behind Geo Baker and Ron Harper Jr. rolling over a weak St. Mary’s defense. Take Rutgers.

– Matthew Vale (@matthewvale15)

#5 Ohio State vs #12 Stephen F. Austin

The Buckeyes were projected to be one of the best teams in the United States when the season began. They came out of the gate hot but struggled when conference play started, but ended up finishing well. Stephen F. Austin played some of the best offensive basketball in the country this year as they logged the 8th highest PPG. Their 28-3 record is legit seeing as they beat Duke in Cameron Indoor, but it won’t help them much here as Ohio State comes prepared. A ton of experience combined with great defense stifles the Lumberjacks as OSU moves on.

Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)

#4 Louisville vs #13 Vermont

Louisville has had a tendency down the stretch this season to play as the “Cardiac Cardinals”. They can beat the Duke Blue Devils in Cameron Indoor Stadium (79-73 on 1/18/20) just as easily as they can lose to NIT bound Clemson (77-62). Vermont is paired up against an ACC opponent for the second year in a row (lost to Florida State in 2019; 76-69). America East Player of the Year, Anthony Lamb, looks comfortable going up against Jordan Nwora as the Catamounts have the slim lead late in the second half. The defense clamps down though for Louisville and a pair of clutch threes by Ryan McMahon have Louisville sliding into the Round of 32. The Cardiac Cardinals live to see another day. 

Jack O’Keefe (@jpokeefe1s)

#6 Virginia vs #11 Cincinnati 

Virginia got flat out hammered earlier in the season and lost some very surprising games. Many, including myself, thought that the Tony Bennett reign of terror might finally be over, but we were wrong. The Hoos straightened things out by winning 11 of their last 12 with wins over Louisville, Duke, and Florida State. Cincinnati, on the other hand, hasn’t played impressive basketball since January 28th when they beat SMU by a hefty margin. Virginia, the reigning champs, have the experience and determination to defend their title, and they do just that against the Bearcats.

Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)

#3 Michigan State vs #14 Bradley

I’m taking MSU in this first round matchup. The Spartans had won six of their final seven games and were really heating up entering the conference tournament. 14 seeds have toppled 3 seeds in the past, but Bradley won’t have the talent to hang with Sparty. Please remember, March is Izzo’s month

– Trent Pruitt (@the_real_pruitt)

#7 Illinois vs #10 USC

The Illini were one of the teams I followed very closely during the 2019-2020 campaign and I feel confident saying, they were the real deal. Additionally, I keep up with the PAC as I am an ASU alum. I think if USC and Illinois had matched up in the first round, I would have to edge to Brad Underwood’s squad. The Illini were exceptional on the glass this season, grabbing 39.1 rebounds per game (24th in country).

– Trent Pruitt (@the_real_pruitt)

#2 Creighton vs #15 Little Rock

This is easily the best Creighton team since Douggie Mcbuckets was playing in Omaha. The Blue Jays have won 7 out of their last 8 to earn a share of the Big East Regular Season Championship. Ty-shon Alexander and Marcus Zegarowski provide the 1-2 punch for Creighton who lead the #3 offense in the nation. Expect the Blue Jays to handle Little Rock easily.

– Matthew Vale (@matthewvale15)