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2017 NCAA Tournament: The VU Hoops staff makes their picks

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Sure... now you’ll be able to make fun of us.

NCAA Basketball Tournament Selection Committee Meets In Manhattan Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Have you joined the site’s staff of writers and signed up for the VU Hoops Pick ‘Em Challenge? You should and we’re giving away real prizes.

In addition to submitting our brackets, the staff will share their picks with you in advance.

Let’s start with the...

East Region Picks

Writer East Final
Writer East Final
Mike Duke over 'Nova
Brian Villanova over Baylor
Lane Villanova over Baylor
Sacketology Duke over Villanova
Brendan Villanova over SMU
Cassilo Villanova over Duke
Kuritz Villanova over Baylor
Billy Villanova over SMU
Miller Villanova over Baylor
Catherine Villanova over Duke
Ed Villanova over Duke

Mike: I don't see UVa losing to UNCW but I do see Forida losing to E Tenn St. I also think 6-seed SMU can make the Sweet 16; they're a very fundamentally sound team from watching them last weekend. Duke is _g_o_o_d_.

Brian: Thats right, Baylor. Grayson Allen is as likely to get kicked out of a game in the Tourney as to carry them to a title. I can see a good Baylor team making it past Duke, but Villanova will overcome their tough draw to return to the last weekend.

Chris: Duke, Schmuke. I actually really like them this year, but they feel ripe to get picked off now that everybody is riding them this hard. Conversely, Baylor has fallen out of favor of late but they're still a very good team and yes, Scott Drew can coach.

Ryan: I'd love to repeat as champions, and would sacrifice anything for my prediction to be wrong, but Duke is heating up at the right time and Coach K knows a thing or two about this tournament. Grayson Allen has been through a lot this year, tripping all those players, and I like a feel good story

Brendan: Remember last year when Michigan State was the early favorite, but then had a rough patch due to injury? Then they finished hot and won their conference tournament and everyone picked them to win the whole thing, ignoring the glaring weaknesses that had been exposed. People wouldn't fall for that again, would they? I see you Duke! As for Nova and SMU, should be a great game between two teams that feature the 4 out 1 in offense and play Top 20 defense. Championship experience carries the 'Cats.

Dave Cassilo: At first glance, this looks like a nightmare draw for the Wildcats. Needing to potentially face well-coached teams like Wisconsin, Virginia, and Duke just to make the Final Four is a tall task. But there's a reason Villanova is the top seed in the tournament. The Wildcats are also a well-coached team and one that has experience and mental toughness that few teams can match. Duke is a very talented team and possibly the second best team in the field, but with so many moving parts all season, they lack the coheseivness on both ends of the floor that Villanova possesses.

Darin Kuritz: I'm going with a lot of chalk in this region. The only first round upset I have is Marquette over South Carolina. Staying away from the trendy Duke pick and going with Baylor to reach the Elite 8. Baylor's size should give Duke some trouble in a Sweet 16 matchup. It will be a very difficult road for the Cats potentially facing Wisconsin, UVA/FLA, and Baylor/Duke, but they faced a tough road last year and we all know how that turned out.

Billy V: I think Virginia Tech's expolsive offense take down a struggling Wisconsin, setting up a Round of 32 matchup between Villanova and Buzz Williams. Their offense is just outside the top 20, but I don't think they'll get many stops against the 'Cats. Elsewhere in the East I think UNCW takes down Virginia and Florida squeaks by ETSU in the first round then UNCW in the second to set up the Sweet 16 game. Florida might be able to take down two double digit seeds but I don't think they can hang with the 'Cats without John Egbunu. SMU and Duke is a matchup of two teams who essentially play 6-6 1/2 guys, but I think the more defensive laden SMU pulls it out. While more defensive laden than Duke, I don't see SMU stopping Villanova enough, and 'Nova heads to another Final Four.

Greg Miller: I actually liked Villanova's draw in their half of the East. In the other half, Baylor is normally feast or famine in this thing. They've "famined" the last two years. Feel like they'll make a run this year. UNCW could be Sweet 16 sleeper.

Catherine: My heart may not be able to take it but I have to "hope" that Villanova gets the chance to take down another ACC school on the biggest stage. The best part about last year is that, when all was said and done, we had left no doubt. I'm optimistic we can do it again

West Region Picks

Editor West Final
Editor West Final
Mike Arizona over Gonzaga
Brian Arizona over Gonzaga
Lane Notre Dame over Florida State
Sacketology Gonzaga over Arizona
Brendan Arizone over Notre Dame
Cassilo Gonzaga over Arizona
Kuritz Gonzaga over Florida State
Billy Arizona over Gonzaga
Miller Arizona over West Virginia
Catherine Notre Dame over Arizona
Ed Arizona over West Virginia

Mike: Maryland and ND in the Sweet 16

Brian: KenPom loves Gonzaga, and so do a lot of folks who watched them go 32-1 this season. The Zags just haven't played a tough enough schedule this season, though, and the Wildcats are more battle-tested. Also, I picked Princeton to advance past Notre Dame, because the Ivy champs aren't the "speedbump" you might think they are.

Lane: This is the year that Mike Brey finally gets to the Final Four after two-straight Elite Eights. Sorry Sean Miller. Sorry Mark Few. Bonzie Colson is a G.

Ryan: Sean Miller can't get passed the Elite Eight, and I don't think he does this year either.

Brendan: This just feels like Arizona's year to finally get their coach to a Final 4, especially when it's in their home state. As for Notre Dame, they're the ones who crush Gonzaga's hopes that this was finally the year. Sorry Bulldogs, it's not happening this year, and I've already penciled you in for a loss at MSG next season.

Cassilo: None of the teams in the West really jump out at me, but Gonzaga is well-balanced and experienced. We've seen Gonzaga disappoint in the past, but this time around, the draw is too good for them. Notre Dame is always a tough out, so the Irish may spoil the region for the Bulldogs, but Gonzaga is the best team in the West. I don't like anyone else enough to go against them.

Kuritz: I like Gonzaga in this region as a contrarian pick, even as a 1 seed. This is the best Zags team I've seen under Mark Few. I'm scared about a potential Sweet 16 matchup with Press Virginia, but I think the Zags will get by. I have Xavier beating Maryland as a first round upset, but pretty much favorites otherwise. I'm going against the grain with a boom or bust pick by taking Florida State to the Elite 8. Don't love FSU, but they could easily make a run with their depth, size, and athleticism.

Billy: I think Xavier becomes the 2nd Big East team in the Sweet 16 after they take down a Maryland squad who has fallen a bit since a 20-2 start and is not liked by Kenpom. I also believe FGCU takes down Florida State, giving the X men a good shot to make it to the 2nd weekend once again. Other than that, I think Gonzaga and Arizona have a rematch in the Elite 8 with a now full strength Arizona making the Final Four.

Miller: I'm not sold on Zags. WVU makes their life miserable in Sweet 16. Really impressed what I saw from Arizona last weekend in Pac12 tourney. WVU offense sputters in Elite 8.

CMRyan: This one is a little out there but I think Notre Dame is dangerous. Arizona is obviously playing for the chance to win a NC in front of their home fans but the Irish are desperate to make it over the Elite Eight hump (get some real problems, am I right?) I think the Irish beat the 'Zags and end up bouncing Arizona. I'll hate it, but I'll watch it.

South Region Picks

Editor South Final
Editor South Final
Mike UNC over UCLA
Brian UNC over Kentucky
Lane UCLA over UNC
Sacketology Kentucky over UNC
Brendan UCLA over UNC
Cassilo Kentucky over North Carolina
Kuritz North Carolina over Wichita State
Billy UNC over Kentucky
Miller UNC over UCLA
Catherine North Carolina over UCLA
Ed UNC over UCLA

Mike: I may change this to UCLA. But Middle Tenn St to the Sweet 16 (I actually watched and liked one of those directional Tennessee schools, but I don't remember which is which so I'm picking both with the upsets).

Brian: I have a lot of chalk in the South Region, but for fun, I picked Cincinnati to shock the world and slide past UCLA, which opens up the road for Kentucky to the Elite Eight. That will be a really fun regional title game.

Lane: Carolina can waltz to the Elite Eight thanks to the type of soft draw that 'Nova should have gotten. I'm dreaming of a Kentucky-UCLA no defense S16 matchup, but I think Wichita State is going to get Calipari and then he's going to go nuclear on the committee (rightfully so). UCLA's offense is crazy good and Lonzo is going to get hot.

Sacketlogy: I CANNOT wait for a UCLA-Kentucky matchup. Similar to Duke, I think Calipari's experience, roster talent, and conference championship run will push the team all the way to Phoenix.

Brendan: North Carolina is good, but not outside of North Carolina. When Duke came back and started scoring, the Tar Heels looked like someone had just punched them in the nose as they sat their stunned at what was happening. Just wait until they see the kind of punch UCLA can throw.

Cassilo: Not many people are high on Kentucky this year due to their seemingly unbalanced offense. But there's something about this Wildcats team. No matter how poorly a game goes, they seem to find a way to claw their way back in. Malik Monk is probably the best player in the country when he's on his game. Kentucky also plays defense, which UCLA doesn't. The game against North Carolina is a toss-up, but I think the defense gives Kentucky the edge. This isn't the best team John Calipari has ever had, but he's pretty good at getting his team deep into March regardless of the talent level.

Kuritz: Welcome to my upset region. I've got Wake/Kstate beating Cincy and UCLA to make the Sweet 16. Wake and Kstate are both underrated teams that can play with anyone and UCLA couldn't defend a chair. Another double digit seed will be playing in the second weekend as Wichita St takes down Kentucky and then moves on to the Elite 8. Another early exit for Coach Cal might have him rethink his one and done philosophy. The top half of the bracket is boring as UNC gets past Butler and then knocks off Wichita State for another Final Four appearance.

Billy: I like Middle Tennesse a lot. Giddy Potts, Jacorey Williams, and Reggie Upshaw are the real deal. They take down Minnesota and then Butler in the round of 32, keeping a 3rd Big East team from making the Sweet 16. UK gets revenge against UCLA, before UNC revenges their loss to UK and advances to their second straight Final Four.

Miller: I'm not in love with UNC, but their bracket is underwhelming. I really like Dayton with their experience to get to Sweet 16. UNC should cruise to Elite 8 past either MTSU or Butler.

CMRyan: I don't like UCLA but it's hard to imagine other teams outscoring them in this bracket. I think they get through to UNC, but UNC is just a much more complete team. I don't think UCLA will be able to hang.

Midwest Picks

Editor Midwest Final
Editor Midwest Final
Mike Kansas over Lousiville
Brian Louisville over Kansas
Lane Louisville over Iowa State
Sacketology Oregon over Purdue
Brendan Kansas over Oregon
Cassilo Louisville over Kansas
Kuritz Louisville over Purdue
Billy Louisville over Kansas
Miller Louisville over Iowa St
Catherine Kansas over Michigan
Ed Kansas over Lousiville

Mike: Sheesh- talk about an easy bracket for the Jayhawks. I'm pretty confident the matchups could allow Nevada and URI to make a Sweet 16 run, so I sent them both through.

Brian: That final could really go either way, but I think Louisville's defense could be the x-factor here.

Lane: I'm a big fan of Kansas because of the backcourt, but they're going to potentially run into a couple of really bad matchups in Miami and Iowa State (who already beat them in The Phog!). Louisville is quietly very good again. Their offense worries me but that defense is just not something many teams see and is difficult to prepare for on a short turnaround.

Ryan: Kansas is quite overrated, as we saw what happens when Josh Jackson doesn't play, and Oregon almost won the PAC-12 without Boucher.

Brendan: The Jayhawks have another gear that a lot of teams can't match, but Oregon might be one of the teams that can. Both of these programs have made it a habbit to come back from double digit deficits this year, so I'm expecting some thrilling heroics. In that kind of match-up, I take talent, and Kansas just edges out Oregon in that department.

Cassilo: Like the West, I'm not a fan of any of these teams. Kansas has been in a mess in so many ways and is too reliant on its top player. Purdue is maybe the most talented team but hasn't looked great recently or in the NCAA tournament. The Chris Boucher injury hurts Oregon, and I think Louisville is probably more a product of Rick Pitnio's system than its actual talent. Still, give me the Cardinals who have the best coach and the most balance on offense.

Darin: I like Louisville in this region because their defense can keep them in any game. Mich/Ok St will be a tough 2nd round matchup, but Pitino will get the job done. My big upset in this region is Miami over Kansas. I really like this pick because Miami and Mich st both could beat anyone. Kansas has won a ton of close games and play down to their competition at times. I like Purdue to make an Elite 8 run as they have one of the best players in the country in Caleb Swanigan.

Billy V.:Purdue gets sent home early for the 2nd conescutive year after Vermont, with the longest winning streak in the country, beats them in the first round. The only other upset I have in the Midwest is a surging Rhode Island taking down Creighton. This would be a heckuva Elite 8 game, but I think Lousiville's defense, and Kansas' lack thereof, sends them home in the Elite 8 again.

Greg Miller: This smells like a KU 2nd round meltdown year. Miami and Michigan St could give them problems. Opens door for Purdue to second weekend. Oregon losing Boucher hurts or I'd pick them. Louisville will struggle to beat Michigan. Rhode Island is sleeper for Sweet 16. This bracket is messy.

Catherine: Michigan is getting hot at the right time and I think, if given the chance, they could bounce Louisville. The foursome of Creighton/Oregon/Rhode Island/Iona isn't what it used to be. I think the Wolverines could slip through to face Kansas.

Final Four

Final Four

Editor CHAMPIONSHIP
Editor CHAMPIONSHIP
Mike Kansas over Duke
Brian Villanova over UNC, the rematch -- of course.
Lane Villanova over UCLA.
Sacketology Kentucky over Duke
Brendan Villanova over Kansas
Cassilo Villanova over Kentucky
Kuritz Gonzaga over UNC
Billy Arizona over UNC
Miller Villanova over Louisville
Catherine .
Ed Villanova over Kansas

Mike: I had ‘Nova flaming out in the Regional Final last year, so I’m staying with that because everything. turned. out. just. nice. last. spring...

Brian: The rematch, of course.

Lane: Villanova's defense finally slows the juggernaut Bruin offense, and Villanova gets their 1971 revenge.

So, who do you have in your bracket?