Before I get to my picks, let me quickly recap how well my projections performed. This season, I missed two at-large teams, Vanderbilt and Tulsa. The Commodores' selection likely reflects the strength of their non-conference schedule, even if they failed to record any wins over the marquee opposition they scheduled (or could have faced in the Maui Invitational). If you have any insight why the Golden Hurricane is in, please share it. I didn't think "multiple double-digit losses to Memphis late in the season" was on the Selection Committee's checklist.
Of the 66 remaining teams, I seeded 39 correctly (59%) and had 24 within a seed line (36%). I missed two teams by two seed lines, Seton Hall (who were a six instead of a four) and Connecticut (slotted as a nine, not a seven). I missed one team by three lines, Oregon State; however, I only slotted them as a 10 seed due to questions about Tres Tinkle's foot. Had those been answered, I would have placed the Beavers on the eight line at worst.
My 2016 performance is almost exactly the same as it was in 2015. Here's to consistency!
Now on to my picks and more commentary on this year's bracketing, which was straight up weird in places. Tuesday's First Four games aren't included.
Note, since my picks last season were terrible (just look at that URL!), I went 36-31 with only my Midwest region picks looking respectable, use these at your own risk.
Yes, the "First Round" is the "First Round" again. Let there be rejoicing throughout the countryside.
The Jackrabbits didn't meet Maryland in the Cancun Challenge in November, where both went 4-0. Hawai'i took Oklahoma to the brink in December, and they'll test Cal. Temple looks likely to send Iowa from a potential 1-seed to a first-round loss. Then there's Arizona, who might struggle against Wichita State's veteran guards.
No. 1 Kansas over No. 9 Connecticut
Even though this season might remind you of the 2014 one, the Huskies aren't playing a high seed as questionable as that season's Villanova squad in the round of 32 this time around.
No. 4 California over No. 12 South Dakota State
The Golden Bears are playing too well to let the Jackrabbits claim a second upset in a row.
No. 11 Wichita State over No. 3 Miami
If the Hurricanes can't get the threes to fall against the Shockers, they're headed for an early exit.
No. 2 Villanova over No. 10 Temple
We could have a Big 5 reunion in Brooklyn on Sunday, and the Wildcats already dominated the Owls once this season.
No. 1 Kansas over No. 4 California
The Jayhawks' talented veterans top Cal's talented youngsters.
No. 11 Wichita State over No. 2 Villanova
The Wildcats reach the second weekend, only to be rattled by a physical Shockers' team.
No. 1 Kansas over No. 11 Wichita State
While the Shockers play the game of their lives, the Jayhawks deny them an historic second straight victory (and continued bragging rights).
The Selection Committee ruined their bracket with the very first decision they made. Kansas is a Midwestern school, even if Louisville's site is actually two miles closer to Lawrence than Chicago is. While placing North Carolina in the East is logical, and Oregon is a natural fit for the West, using Virginia to anchor the Midwest is nonsensical.
Putting Kansas in Chicago and the two ACC teams either on the East Coast or another ACC market (that happens to be just 516 miles from Chapel Hill and 492 from Charlottesville—Lawrence is 550 miles) is just common sense.
This decision gives Kansas an easy path to Houston.
March Madness Matchups
If the Crusaders could get this game moved to one of their Patriot rivals' home floors, they'd be a lock after the past two weeks.
The Panthers again look like the team that defeated both North Carolina and Iowa State early in the season, which is trouble for a Longhorn team that's overachieved. In my other upset pick, the Rams should be able to take care of Tres Tinkle-less Oregon State.
No. 1 Oregon over No. 8 Saint Joseph's
Maybe the Hawk can challenge the Duck to a wing-flapping contest.
No. 5 Baylor over No. 4 Duke
The Bears are deeper than the Blue Devils at this point.
No. 3 Texas A&M over No. 11 Northern Iowa
The Aggies are trouble for the Panthers and the rest of this region.
No. 2 Oklahoma over No. 10 VCU
The Sooners will take down the Rams to set up a Big 12 reunion, just not the most appetizing one.
No. 1 Oregon over No. 5 Baylor
Note that the Ducks defeated the Bears 74-67 on Nov. 16 in Eugene in a "My eyes! The goggles do nothing!" matchup.
No. 2 Oklahoma over No. 3 Texas A&M
The Sooners' offense will be too much for the Aggies, if their threes fall.
No. 2 Oklahoma over No. 1 Oregon
Both teams were tested in conference play, but I think the Sooners have a bit more quality, especially with Buddy Hield on the roster.
The decision to seed the Ducks ahead of Michigan State seems one of convenience with the late hour of the Big Ten Tournament championship games. Sunday conference finals remain one of the bigger factors leading to controversial bracketing.
Unfortunately for Oregon, their reward features a team projected to take a No. 1 seed for most of the year (Oklahoma) and the defending National Champs (Duke).
And if you didn't notice, both Texas and VCU are in Oklahoma City, as are Oklahoma and Texas A&M. That's convenient.
Potential Cinderella: Northern Iowa is cruising after remarkable turnaround
No. 11 Michigan over No. 11 Tulsa
Michigan should get past the team no one expected to be here, but funny things happen with surprise entrants.
Keep an eye on the 3 vs. 14 game. The Southland champions have lost just one conference game in three years, and they'll test the Mountaineers. Then SFA will have to try to keep Brad Underwood, a former Bob Huggins assistant, around.
No. 1 North Carolina over No. 9 Providence
These two played a thriller in the 2014 Round of 64, with the Tar Heels winning 79-77. Perhaps they can turn in another great one two seasons later.
No. 4 Kentucky over No. 12 Chattanooga
Big Blue Nation will turn against the Mocs in what could be an ugly blowout.
No. 3 West Virginia over No. 6 Notre Dame
The Irish haven't seen a defense like the Mountaineers' all season.
No. 2 Xavier over No. 7 Wisconsin
Chris Mack's team has more firepower than Greg Gard's.
No. 1 North Carolina over No. 4 Kentucky
With how both teams are playing right now, this is a Final Four-caliber matchup.
No. 3 West Virginia over No. 2 Xavier
Once again, the Mountaineers face a team not quite ready for their particular brand of defense.
No. 1 North Carolina over No. 3 West Virginia
The Tar Heels keep the Big 12 from equalling the Big East's 1985 total of three Final Four teams.
With the ACC regular season and tournament winner, the Big Ten regular season winner, the SEC regular season co-champ and tournament winner and the teams that claimed second seed in the Big 12 and Big East, the East region is loaded.
Indiana and Kentucky should both be seeded higher. Doing so might have made the bracket a bit more fair.
Both Butler and eighth-seeded Texas Tech participated in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in November, but they play in a coin-flip game now. The Trojans are a tough matchup for No. 5 Purdue after Sunday afternoon's heartbreak in Indianapolis. Plus, the 2 vs. 15 game is a battle straight out of ancient Greece: the Spartans vs. the Blue Raiders, represented by a Bellerophon-less Pegasus!
No. 1 Virginia over No. 9 Butler
The Cavaliers will have to win an ugly one to move on to bigger and better things.
No. 12 Arkansas-Little Rock over No. 5 Iowa State
The Cyclones have been rather inconsistent this season, and the Trojans take advantage.
No. 3 Utah over No. 6 Seton Hall
The Utes dominate the Pirates inside to move on to Chicago.
No. 2 Michigan State over No. 10 Syracuse
The Spartans win a second consecutive Greek-themed matchup to get to the United Center, where they'll have the bulk of the crowd behind them.
No. 1 Virginia over No. 12 Arkansas-Little Rock
The Cavaliers shut down Cinderella.
No. 2 Michigan State over No. 3 Utah
The squad boasting the Big Ten's Player of the Year knocks out the team with the Pac-12's.
No. 2 Michigan State over No. 1 Virginia
For the third season in a row, the Cavaliers' season will come to an end at the hands of the strongest case of the two seeds to be on the top line (though I would have put the Spartans over Oregon, not Virginia).
The Selection Committee's odd decision to slot Kansas in the South ultimately made Virginia's path far more difficult.
Seton Hall, Big East Tournament champions and winners of 12 of their last 14 (a near reversal of what they did late last season), are among the group of under-seeded teams. Meanwhile, I fully expected Syracuse to play on Dayton's home floor, not against them.
South No. 1 Kansas over West No. 2 Oklahoma
Midwest No. 2 Michigan State over East No. 1 North Carolina
Kansas over Michigan State
And a season full of unexpected results and thrilling upsets ends with ... four of the top eight teams in the bracket making it to Houston and the Jayhawks will reverse their Nov. 17 loss in Chicago. Then again, if Denzel Valentine goes for 36 points, 12 boards and 12 assists again.