Perfect bracket? Forget about it!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Close to 100 million NCAA Basketball Tournament brackets will be submitted to online sites this season and since the inception of the current bracket format in 1985, not one single person has picked a perfect one.

According to the online sites, the most anyone has ever gone without a loss is 34 games in an ESPN bracket in 2015 where the submitter picked the first two rounds correctly.

Last year, the best anyone did in verified online brackets at NCAA.com, Bleacher Report, CBS, ESPN and Yahoo was 25 games to start the tournament.

This year is no different as there are a myriad of potential first round upsets, but Iím going to start backwards and pick my Final Four with Notre Dame coming out of an intriguing West bracket that includes number two Gonzaga and fourth-ranked Arizona.

In the East, the defending national champions and top-ranked Villanova Wildcats have a free run to the Elite Eight where they will beat the Duke Blue Devils, who won the ACC Tournament over Notre Dame.

In what I believe is the weakest bracket of the tournament, number three-ranked Kansas survive over my Cinderella pick Rhode Island, who beats Creighton, Oregon and Louisville before losing to the Jay Hawks in an essentially home game at Kansas City in the Elite Eight.

The South bracket is murderís row with North Carolina, Kentucky, UCLA, Butler and Seton Hall all having a great chance to make it to the Elite Eight.

The team that comes out of this horror will be the most battled tested squad and the Final Four prediction here is the Kentucky Wildcats, who beat out North Carolina in an epic Elite Eight matchup.

Three Tennessee teams are in the field with East Tennessee in the East bracket, Vanderbilt in the West, and MTSU in the South.

Only the Blue Raiders survive round one as the take down Minnesota before losing to Butler in the second round.

Vanderbilt loses its first round game versus Northwestern, who have waited 78 years for this opportunity and East Tennessee falls to Florida in Orlando.

The Final Four matchups on April 1 at Phoenix will be Villanova versus Notre Dame and Kansas versus Kentucky.

Villanova, who beat North Carolina last year 77-74 on a Chris Jenkins buzzer beater, do it again as the Wildcats claim their third NCAA Tournament crown over their namesakes from the Bluegrass State.

The last team to go back-to-back was Florida in 2006 and 2007.

My first round upsets are Providence over SMU, Xavier over Maryland, VCU over Saint Maryís, Vermont over Purdue, MTSU, Seton Hall over Arkansas, and Kent State in a shocker over UCLA.

Have fun, but I donít think anyone can beat the 36 straight record set in 2015, except me of course.

You can view my picks at marshalltribune.com.