March, the time of year where everyone becomes their own in-house, in-office, in-group chat expert on college basketball! As a sports-watching male, who can name lots of college mascots and knows more than six players, by name, that will be lottery picks in next year’s NBA Draft, I am clearly the in-Poker Central expert to provide you with NCAA Tournament picks before March Madness tips off on Thursday.

In all seriousness, if Charles Barkley is going to give his picks, takes and opinions over the next two weeks, anyone is qualified, right? So, without further ado, Will OC’s March Madness Picks (Part I)

East Region

I wrote yesterday that Villanova, as the defending champion and overall #1 seed, somehow has the toughest road back to the Final Four. While the other top seeds won’t truly be tested until the tournament’s second weekend, Villanova will be tested right off the bat with an expected Second Round match-up with an underrated Wisconsin squad. They should pass that test though and then should get through the Florida Gators, who have struggled to find any success against teams that begin with “V”.

At the bottom of the region, Duke, who arguably could have been a #1 seed, have a significantly easier road to the Elite Eight. Duke and SMU are the only teams that haven’t stumbled into the tournament and have a shot at making their way to the second weekend. Baylor lost six of their final 11 games, including the first round of the Big 12 Tournament, and South Carolina haven’t done much better, dropping six of their last nine. 

Aside from SMU, my East Region is heading into the second weekend as more or less chalk, with Villanova and Duke battling in the Elite Eight. All year, I’ve heard and thought that Duke was the best team in the country and while there have been some games that have said the opposite, death, taxes and the Blue Devils hitting their stride in March are three of life’s surest guarantees.

Midwest Region

You know that girl that you’ve gone out with once or twice, you had a good time but deep down, you know she is no good? That is the Kansas Jayhawks in March and while I know I should ignore them, I shouldn’t like their Instagram posts and I should definitely not call, I can’t help myself. I know they will lose to Michigan State in the Second Round because Tom Izzo in March might be the fourth guarantee in life but I just can’t pull the trigger.

I went chalk at the top but the bottom half of the region, we went rogue. Michigan might be the hottest team entering the tournament and the top two seeds at the bottom, Louisville and Oregon have “FRAUD” written all over them. Oregon lost their best big, Chris Boucher, to a torn ACL late in the Pac-12 tournament, so we are making our first East Coast Bias pick of the tournament and sending Rhody into the second weekend instead of the Ducks.

From there, I wish I had the courage to put the winner of Rhode Island vs. Michigan into the Final Four. I don’t though, I’m not that strong but when it does happen, at least I’ll know that I should have went with my gut and left Kansas for dead in the Round of 32 where they belong.

My West Region and South Region picks will be posted tomorrow in Part II