When March Madness comes around, millions of brackets are filled out every year and everyone probably thinks they are an NCAA tournament expert.
However, ESPN does have its very own experts. Does that mean they all picked a completely perfect Final Four?
ESPN’s group of college basketball writers, commentators and analysts made their predictions shortly after the NCAA tournament field was announced on Selection Sunday. Here’s how the 38 respondents did — what they got right and what they missed:
0-for-38 Part 1
None of our experts picked the UCLA Bruins to reach the Final Four. It’s hard to blame them. The Bruins entered the tournament on a four-game losing streak. They are only the second team to play in the First Four and reach the Final Four. The last was VCU in 2011.
However, it’s not outrageous to think a team with a double-digit seed could reach the Final Four.
It has happened recently too. Loyola Chicago’s magical run to the Final Four in 2018 came with the Ramblers as a No. 11 seed. In 2016, Syracuse was a No. 10 seed and reached the Final Four.
0-for-38 Part 2
Where was the love for the Houston Cougars? Not here. The Cougars, with 20 points from Marcus Sasser, are back in the Final Four for the first time since 1984.
In the Midwest Region, it was the Illinois Fighting Illini who were picked by 34 of 38 people to win the region. But Houston had the better BPI chances (39.3% to 32.4%) compared to Illinois. So, good job computers!
Illinois was upset by Sister Jean’s prayers and the Loyola Chicago Ramblers in the Round of 32.
If you’re an expert looking for solace, Houston, according to ESPN Stats & Information, is the first team to play four double-digit seeds en route to the Final Four. The 48 seed total (No. 15 Cleveland State, No. 10 Rutgers, No. 11 Syracuse and No. 12 Oregon State) is tied with 2001 Michigan State as the highest total.
Who was (mostly) right?
None of ESPN’s experts got more than two Final Four picks correct — 25 chose the Baylor Bears and Gonzaga.
Only one of our experts missed all four Final Four selections.
Will the Zags love pay off?
A whopping 94.7% of experts had Gonzaga in the Final Four. Of those, 27 have the Bulldogs winning the national title. Baylor and Illinois were the second-most popular choice with five selections each.
If you picked Baylor, you’re still alive. The Bears are in their first Final Four since 1950 and will face Houston.
If you picked Illinois, so sorry to hear it.
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