2015 Men's NCAA Tournament Roundtable

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Some say December is the best month of the year because of Christmas. Others argue that the best month is June because that is when school ends and summer begins. While both of these months are great in their own way, there is only one month that we college basketball fans see as the greatest: The month of March. March Madness has officially begun and today at 12:15 PM EST, the fun begins. 

Here is the Society’s preview for each region in this year’s 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. 

Participants:

 

Midwest Region

Who is your favorite to win the Midwest Region?

Martin: Kentucky.

Kyle:  Kentucky. This team is literally unbeatable. They still have some games left, but it is looking likely that they can win the whole thing.

Cyril: Kentucky is pretty self-explanatory. It’s championship or bust for Cal’s group. Anything short of a Final Four would send shockwaves through the basketball community.

Alec: Notre Dame. Notre Dame beat Duke and North Carolina in back-to-back days. This team is rolling at the right time.

Kirk: Kentucky. Wildcats are the favorite not only in this region, but to win it all.

Aram: Kentucky. This is the obvious pick here. They have dominated throughout the regular season and there is no reason for them to stop the dominance in the easiest region.

Which team can be a possible sleeper in this region?

Martin: Indiana – also my sleeper in the Big Ten tournament. They have a backcourt that can make noise.

Kyle: Maryland. This team gets overlooked. I feel like they can match up with anyone defensively.

Cyril: Wichita State. They have supplanted VCU as the Mid-Major giant. Well coached, they’ll cause trouble for anyone they face.

Alec: Texas. Texas is loaded with talent. Their problem has been consistency. If they get hot at the tournament they can get scary. Notre Dame potentially awaits them in the third round.

Kirk: Notre Dame. After winning the ACC Tournament, ND will be the hottest team in the tournament along with a strong disciplined nucleus.

Aram: Buffalo. Jarryn Skeete’s outside shooting ability combined with Justin Moss’s post presence can cause great problems for West Virginia and possible Maryland in the following round.

What would be the best match-up, if possible, in the Midwest?

Martin: Maryland vs. Kentucky

Kyle: Kansas vs. Notre Dame

Cyril: Kentucky vs. Notre Dame. ND would pose Kentucky’s biggest challenge outside of the Final Four.

Alec: Notre Dame vs Kentucky. The only team that can beat Kentucky is Notre Dame. Notre Dame has to play small-ball to beat monstrous Kentucky. This is a potential elite eight match-up.

Kirk: Butler vs Texas

Aram: Wichita St. vs. Kentucky

Who is one player that we should all keep our eyes on in the Midwest?

Martin: Jerian Grant. I’m treating this category as my most likely to go off.

Kyle: Willie Cauly-Stein. Stein has come into his own over the season. People are picking Towns to be the better player. I beg to differ. I think Stein has a bigger upside and can carry this Kentucky team in a time of need.

Cyril: Jerian Grant. He could channel his inner DWade this tournament.

Alec: Jerian Grant. The senior point guard in his last season at Notre Dame. He is focused and so is the rest of the team. Jerian Grant will take Notre Dame as far as he can take them.

Kirk: Jerian Grant. First Team All ACC wing-man will be the player to watch with his array of moves and dominate scoring ability.

Aram: Dez Wells. The Maryland Senior will be trying for the last time to make significant noise in the tournament. Wells can flat out play and look for him to shine bright in this tournament.

Which one of the higher seeds in this region do you not trust?

Martin: Kansas.

Kyle: Kansas. This is a tough one, but Kansas to me fits this. They have had some bad losses, especially with a blowout @ Temple. This team can get beat if they lack size against their opponent.

Cyril: Kansas has been very up and down this year. Missing Cliff Alexander could send the Jayhawks packing fairly early this year.

Alec: Kansas. No Cliff Alexander scares me. Unless Bill Self has a trick up his sleeve I don’t see Kansas advancing far in the tournament.

Kirk: Kansas. I feel Kansas is very inconsistent and not deserving of a 2 seed.

Aram: Kansas. Having to face either Wichita St. or Indiana in the second round is a tough task in itself and with the myriad of injuries they have had to face, it might not be a long tournament run for the Jayhawks.

West Region

Who is your favorite to win the West region?

Martin: Wisconsin.

Kyle: Arizona. To me they got robbed of a one seed. They will be trying to prove as to why they deserved that one seed.

Cyril: Wisconsin. Wisconsin boasts arguably the best player in College Basketball. They were an Andrew Harrison 3 away from the National Title game a year ago. Could this be the year Bo Ryan finally breaks through?

Alec: Arizona. Arizona were the Pac-12 champions after beating Oregon 80-52. Finishing 31-1, I truly believe they should’ve been a #1 seed. Stanley Johnson will rise up the draft boards.

Kirk: Arizona is my favorite to win it all with McConnell at the Point Guard, Brandon Ashley In the post, and freshman phenom Stanley Johnson at the wing.

Aram: Wisconsin. Experience alone has the Badgers as the favorite to make the Final Four in the West region.

Which team can be a possible sleeper in this region?

Martin: North Carolina. The Tar Heels should bring that energy they had in their run to the ACC Championship right into the tournament. When they’re active and confident they can play with anyone.

Kyle: Arkansas. This team almost beat Kentucky this year, and they finished second in the conference. I feel that they are a little underseeded.

Cyril: VCU has been a team higher seeds do not want to face come tournament time. Shaka Smart has his boys poised for an upset or two this year.

Alec: Wofford. Every year there is a team no one has ever heard of that makes it far in the tournament.  Wofford is lead by senior guard Karl Cochran. Expect the unexpected.

Kirk: North Carolina. North Carolina is my sleeper as long as they don’t make mental mistakes at the end of games like turning the ball over.

Aram: Xavier. After performing very well in the Big East Tournament, the Musketeers will have a chance to show that they can dance with the best of them. They have a solid chance to upset Baylor with Steinbrook leading the way if they can get passed Ole Miss in the first round.

What would be the best match up, if possible, in the West?

Martin: Arizona vs. Wisconsin – would be a rematch of last year’s Elite Eight and these are clearly the best two teams in the region.

Kyle: North Carolina vs. Baylor

Cyril: North Carolina vs. Wisconsin, game could go either way. The Tar Heels are hitting their stride at the right time. Wisconsin might have their hands full.

Alec: Arizona vs Wisconsin. Defense vs Experience. These two teams have been consistently unstoppable all season. This has potential to be one of the best Elite Eight game in a couple years.

Kirk: VCU vs Ohio State

Aram: VCU vs. Baylor- A highly unlikely match-up but a very intriguing one. Baylor and VCU both play tenacious defense with great guard play. It would be neck and neck all the way through.

Who is one player we should all keep our eyes on in the West?

Martin: D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State)

Kyle: Trevon Graham (VCU). They are coming off an A10 title win and trying to make another run like they did in 2011.

Cyril: D’Angelo Russell has been the best freshman not named Jahlil Okafor or Karl Anthony Towns. Could be a huge tournament for him.

Alec: Frank Kaminsky. Frank Kaminsky is arguably the best player in college basketball. All eyes are now on Wisconsin now that they are a #1 seed. This is Kaminsky’s fourth tournament appearance.

Kirk: D’Angelo Russell will be the stud to watch, some say he’s the next Russell Westbrook. Only time will tell.

Aram: Stanley Johnson (Arizona)

Which one of the higher seeds in this region do you not trust?

Martin: Baylor.

Kyle: North Carolina: I feel like they can be overrated at times. They are a very vulnerable team going against a good Harvard team and might have to play a dangerous Arkansas team in the next round.

Cyril: Baylor. Like Baylor, but do not trust them all the way. They could be upset very early.

Alec: North Carolina. Harvard always plays tough in the NCAA tournament. North Carolina has been inconsistent and I see them falling early.

Kirk: Baylor. Baylor will lose In the first round In my opinion. I just feel them playing Georgia State in the first round will be especially tough going against their veteran back-court in Ryan Harrow and Kevin Ware.

Aram: Baylor.

East Region

Who is your favorite to win the East region?

Martin: Villanova.

Kyle: Virginia. I love UVA. They give up 50 points a game and are the best defensive team in the country. But they are also stacked offensively.

Cyril: Villanova has been solid all year. Very deserving of their 1 seed.

Alec: Northern Iowa. If you don’t know who Seth Tuttle is you will know him by the end of the tournament. The East is the most wide open region. Northern Iowa is here to play.

Kirk: UVA. Best defensive team in this region will get them far despite the lack of scoring.

Aram: Virginia. Justin Anderson’s uneven play since his return from injury does put on a damper on the chances of Virginia to make a real impact, but nevertheless, their defense is what is most important.

Which team can be a possible sleeper in this region?

Martin: Michigan State. Izzo and the experience of Trice-Valentine-Dawson is enough to make the magic happen.

Kyle: UNI. They were a top 15 team at the end of the year and ended up with a 5 seed. I feel like they will turn some heads and can make a big run.

Cyril: Michigan State. Tom Izzo is the best coach in college basketball outside of Coach K and Coach Cal. MSU is always ready to play in March.

Alec: Michigan State. If Tom Izzo is your coach, you are always in contention. A seven seed is low for Michigan State. Nice wins against Ohio State and Maryland towards the end of the season leads me to believe they can make a run.

Kirk: Michigan State. Never can count out a Tom Izzo coached team In the month of March. Michigan state is tough and battle tested.

Aram: Michigan State. It’s so unfortunate that MSU was ranked #7. They are one of the better teams in the tournament and the most unlucky team is Virginia. Whichever team wins that battle in the second round can go a very long way in the tournament.

What would be the best match-up, if possible, in the East?

Martin: Michigan State vs. Virginia.

Kyle: UVA vs Nova: This will be the best defensive team in the country versus IMO the best 3pt shooting team in the country

Cyril: Villanova vs. Louisville has many Final Four implications. Should be a good one if it happens.

Alec: Virginia vs Villanova. Virginia is known for defense and Villanova is known for offense. This game would be an absolute battle. They both define a complete team.

Kirk: Northern Iowa vs Wyoming 

Aram: Virginia vs. Michigan State- High powered offenses, high powered defenses. Both championship contenders and very possibly meeting in the 2nd round? Geez, can’t wait.

Who is one player that we should all keep our eyes on in the East?

Martin: Kris Dunn (Providence)

Kyle: Darrun Hilliard (Villanova): He can flat out shoot. The whole Villanova team can in fact, but he especially will play a huge roll in their run if they are to make one.

Cyril: Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell have been key for Louisville, I look for them to continue their stellar play into the tournament.

Alec: Buddy Hield. Hield is one of the most under rated players in college basketball. He is averaging 17.5 points per game. Oklahoma has high expectations as the three seed.

Kirk: Justin Anderson, let’s see If this guy is healthy enough to use both hands. UVA will certainly need his offense

Aram: Seth Tuttle (University of Northern Iowa)- Tuttle is a beast in the paint and it will be interesting to see him go against some of the bigger names in college basketball.

Which one of the higher seeds in this region do you not trust?

Martin: Oklahoma.

Kyle: Oklahoma: They were quiet all season. I just feel like they didn’t do much to deserve a 3 seed. Sometimes being unheard of for the most part is a good thing, but I don’t think so in Oklahoma’s case. 

Cyril: Virginia. Virgina simply cannot score. When the games get tight who can they turn to?

Alec: Villanova. I believe Villanova shouldn’t be a #1 seed. The East is wide open which is a disadvantage to Villanova.

Kirk: Louisville – I think the cardinals are too offensively challenged.

Aram: Louisville. They just don’t seem to be the same team that they have been these past couple of years. Harrell can ball, but they will need a lot more against some of the powerhouses they will be playing.

South Region

Who is your favorite to win the South region?

Martin: Duke.

Kyle: Duke. With the ACC Player of the Year and a deep and heavy backcourt, they will make a run. Also having a senior PG in Quinn Cook will be key.

Cyril: Duke has been my pick all year long to give Kentucky that 1st loss. Can Duke erase their recent early round failures and make a run?

Alec: Iowa State. Iowa State just won the Big-12 tournament and Goerges Niang is on fire. Iowa State has five players that average double figures in points. It takes a team to win a championship.

Kirk: Duke. Blue Devils are the favorite with the trio of Okafor/Tyus Jones/Winslow

Aram: Gonzaga. Yes, every year the Zags seem to disappoint us in the tournament, but they have to live up to their potential some time with all of the talent they have.

Which team can be a possible sleeper in this region?

Martin: SMU.

Kyle: Utah. This is a team with leadership that has some quality Pac 12 wins. They will be trying to prove as to why they shouldn’t have been overlooked.

Cyril: Georgetown has quietly gone about its business this year.

Alec: Davidson. Davidson finished first in the Atlantic 10 and was projected to come in last. This team thrives when being the underdog. Davidson is a scary #10 seed

Kirk:  Iowa State. Even though they are a 3 seed, they are my sleeper and choice to come out of this region.

Aram: SMU. Larry Brown is a fantastic coach and there is no doubt about it. This team passes the ball extremely well. A very efficient and disciplined team can be a real scare for some of the higher seeds.

What would be the best match-up, if possible, in the South?

Martin: Duke vs. Iowa State

Kyle: SMU vs Iowa State: Not much to say but if it does happen, this will be one of the best match-ups of the year.

Cyril: Duke vs. Iowa State. Fred Hoiberg vs. Coach K. Iowa State is one of the best teams no one is talking about. Georges Niang will be a handful for Duke.

Alec: Iowa State vs Duke Both of these teams are top-25 in offense. Duke has the talent but Iowa State has the experience. The playoffs are made for games like this.

Kirk: Utah vs SF Austin

Aram: SMU vs. Gonzaga

Who is one player that we should all keep our eyes on in the South?

Martin: Tyler Harvey, Eastern Washington – the nation’s leading scorer (22.9 PPG) and leader in threes (122 makes) with five games of at least 30 points this season.

Kyle: Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga). The senior is one of the best PGs in the country, and no one is talking about him.

Cyril: 2 players: Justice Winslow is key to Duke’s title run. He must have a good tournament. Georges Niang was hurt last year around this time, look for him to make up for it with a big tournament.

Alec: Georges Niang. Niang is top-2 on Iowa State in points, rebounds, and assists per game. He is entering the tournament having just scored 19 points against Kansas.

Kirk: Georges Niang.  A big forward with handles will be tough to guard for any team.

Aram: D’vauntes Smith Rivera, Georgetown- If Georgetown is going to make noise, Smith Rivera will be leading the charge. And if he gets hot, there is no stopping him.

Which one of the higher seeds in this region do you not trust?

Martin: Georgetown.

Kyle: Georgetown. I feel like they shouldn’t have been a 4 seed. I didn’t really see them being that high of a seed, but I feel like they could lose early if they are not too careful.

Cyril: Gonzaga hasn’t played enough quality opposition for me to be convinced that they will be dancing in the later rounds.

Alec: Georgetown Georgetown has to travel to Portland to play Eastern Washington. This is technically a home game for Eastern Washington.

Kirk: Gonzaga is just not the same team when not the underdog.

Aram: Duke. I want to pick Duke to be the team to come out of this region. I really do, but I just can’t. Okafor’s inability to shoot well at the line can really hurt them in the tournament.

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Martin is the Founder, Chief Editor, and Head Skills Development Trainer for Basketball Society. He has work experience in digital media and marketing, radio, and journalism. Currently, he does freelance work as a videographer and content creator. He has been featured as a writer on sites such as Def Pen, TV Film News, All Hip-Hop, and more. Martin played high school basketball at South Brunswick High School (NJ) where he graduated in 2007. He is a 1,000-point scorer at SBHS and an All-Middlesex County performer as a 3-year varsity starter. He helped lead SBHS to their first-ever Central Jersey Group 4 sectional state championship in 2007. Martin played college basketball at Eastern University, where he graduated (BA, Communications) in 2012. Martin was a four-year starter and a 1,000-point scorer at EU. Follow Martin on Twitter @Marsoaries and on Instagram @martin_soaries

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