2019 March Madness Bracket Picks: Vulnerable High Seeds
The bracket is out, and we are just days away from the start of the NCAA Tournament - the best three weeks in American sports. It's a very interesting bracket this year, with fewer odd seedings or questionable bracket placements than usual. It's going to be a brutally-tough, wide-open tournament - unless Duke plays to their full potential, in which case it's over before it starts. As we prepare our March Madness bracket picks, here are four vulnerable high seeds that could find themselves on the sidelines earlier than their seed suggests that they should be.
No. 1 Virginia: We obviously have to talk about the Cavaliers. After all, they are a No. 1 seed a year after they made dubious history by become the first ever such seed to lose their opener to a No. 16. And they got schooled by UMBC, too - it wasn't close. This isn't just a reaction to one loss last year, though. Tony Bennett is a coach who has mastered the regular season, but the postseason is a different tale. He has been a No. 1 seed three times prior to this year with Virginia. Very impressive. But he has not made a Final Four yet and has made it only as far as the Elite Eight once. He knows all about overachieving.
That kind of reputation can be shaken - Jay Wright was labeled an underachiever until he emphatically rejected the notion. But it's not a reputation that can change until he actively changes it. This year's foe, Gardner Webb, is far from a great team. But they are ranked higher by several metrics than UMBC was last year. And they are the Bulldogs, which is more formidable than the Retrievers were last year. Stranger things have happened. Recently. But, more likely, if Virginia is going to find a way to underachieve it will be against teams like Oklahoma, Kansas State, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Purdue, or the defending champs from Villanova. All are capable of knocking Virginia off sooner than they should fall if they are committed to being typically Virginia.
No. 2 Tennessee: The South Region is tough, so Virginia isn't the only top seed there that could face some issues. Tennessee comes into the tournament off a disappointing and lopsided loss to Auburn in the SEC title game - to their former coach, no less - so their confidence could be shaken. And they will need full confidence here, because this is a rough path. Colgate won't be much of a test in all likelihood in the opener, but Cincinnati is a nasty team as a No. 7 and a rough second-round matchup. In the next round they could face a Purdue team that won a piece of the very tough Big Ten, or the defending champs from Villanova. As a No. 2 they are expected to at least make the Elite Eight. There are a couple spots they could fall short of that.
No. 2 Kentucky: The Wildcats have a way of falling short of expectations in the tournament. Calipari's teams seem to be either bought in entirely or already looking ahead to their inevitable mass NBA exodus. This year isn't quite like other years, though - they have only one likely lottery pick and just two others with first-round potential this year. They could be more focused, and they will need to be.
The No. 7 line is a very tough one this year, and Wofford, Kentucky's likely second-round opponent, is just the kind of team that can give a top team from a major conference fits. They come into the tournament on a 20-game winning streak, and they shoot the lights out from beyond the arc - the second best three-point shooting percentage in the country. It's a tough spot for the Wildcats. And if they survive that, they could run into a Houston team that has won 31 games and is very well coached.
No. 2 Michigan: We've already thrown in two No. 2 seeds, so we might as well go for a third. Michigan had a 5-point lead over Michigan State with two minutes left in the Big Ten title game, but they didn't score again and lost by 5. Ugly. And they lost some of their mojo down the stretch when they lost to the Spartans two more times and lost five of their final 13 in total. They are a talented team with an excellent defense, but they might not have the killer instinct of past John Beilein squads.
They open against a Montana team they beat up last year in the first round, and they should be able to do so again. But Nevada could be a tough second-round matchup. They haven't met their hefty preseason expectations, but they are still talented and dangerous. And if they get past that, they could face another big test in either Texas Tech or Buffalo - two teams that can really take advantage of a team that falters. They are certainly capable of being an Elite Eight team - or more. But they could also go home far too soon - especially if their opponents can do some version of whatever it is that Michigan State was doing against them this year.
Want free March Madness betting picks? Doc's Sports has you covered - get $60 worth of March Madness picks free from any of Doc's Sports expert handicappers. Get $60 worth of premium members' picks free . Doc's Sports offers free college basketball picks, parlays, tips every day of the tournament on our homepage.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
Most Recent March Madness Betting
- Free NCAA Tournament Betting Picks for Final Four
- 2021 College Basketball National Championship Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
- 2021 March Madness Bracket Predictions: South Region
- 2021 March Madness Handicapping: No. 5 vs. No. 12 Seeds
- 2021 March Madness Bracket Predictions: Midwest Region
- 2021 March Madness Bracket Predictions: West Region
- 2021 March Madness Bracket Predictions: East Region
- 2021 March Madness Prop Bets and Predictions
- 2021 NCAA March Madness Betting Tips
- 2021 NCAA Tournament Facts