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NCAA bracket 2015 predictions: Iowa State to the national title game

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Kentucky is going to win it all. Don't convince yourself otherwise. But the Cyclones are an intriguing challenger.

SB Nation 2015 March Madness Bracket

The left side of this year's bracket has the two best teams in college basketball — Kentucky and Wisconsin — and if/when those teams meet in the Final Four, it could be the matchup of the season. But on that side of the bracket, it's mostly chalk. The other side of the bracket is where things get interesting.

Realtime Bracket Game

That side has a vulnerable one seed in Villanova, vulnerable two seeds in Virginia and Gonzaga, and most importantly, it has a three-seed that's bowling through everyone right now. I tried talking myself out of picking the Cyclones to take down Duke and Villanova/Michigan State multiple times, but that's just a really favorable path for a team that's playing its best basketball of the year.

It would help ISU to be able to avoid Gonzaga — in-state foe Iowa can potentially help out there — but if the Cyclones make it to the the Elite Eight against Duke, you have to feel pretty good about their chances for an upset. Duke has great shooters, and if the Blue Devils get hot, they can beat anyone in the country, but Iowa State has proven an ability to respond to scoring runs with furious runs of their own, coming from 22 down against Oklahoma and 17 down against Kansas. While the defense can, at times, leave something to be desired, ISU's active, though undersized, front line might be able to contain Duke's dominant frontcourt, led by Jahlil Okafor.

SB Nation presents: Some numbers to keep in mind when making your upset picks

ISU isn't the most consistent team in the country, but the Cyclones have looked like one of the best teams in the nation since the beginning of March, with two wins over Oklahoma and one each over Kansas and Texas. And even if you don't think the Cyclones can knock off Gonzaga and Duke and make a run, you should root for them to, because they're one of the most exciting teams in the nation. Fred Hoiberg has essentially put an NBA system in a college environment, and his Cyclones love to run and gun, ranking second nationally in shortest possession length on offense, 15th in tempo and seventh in offensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com.

They're talented, they're deep, they're efficient and they're fun. And that's why I have Iowa State playing Kentucky for the National Championship.

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