March Madness 2022 – ESPN experts figured out what was right and wrong in Four’s final picks

Remember the Halcyon days of Crazy March 2022? It was that glorious period between Selection Sunday and the first round of the NCAA tournament. Before the clutters and wasteful Cinderellas, we were all college basketball buffs.

Our brackets are perfect. The same goes for ESPN’s panel of experts, who picked their Finals before the tournament even started.

Then the game happened.

ESPN’s college basketball writers, commentators, and analysts made their predictions shortly after the field was announced on Selection Sunday. Here’s how 54 respondents did – what they got right and what they missed:

Weekend of Ruins, Part 1

The first weekend saw one #1 seed (Baylor Bears), two #2 seeds (Kentucky Wildcats, Auburn Tigers), two #3 seeds (Tennessee Volunteers, Wisconsin Badgers) and two No. 5 (UConn Huskies, Iowa Hawkeyes) lost. That’s a lot of damage. Saint Peter’s Peacocks, a number 15 seed, swam in front of everyone’s picks.

Out of 54 experts, 37 have Wildcats winning in the East Zone. Four had Kentucky win them all. To be fair to our experts, the Peacocks, in beating Kentucky, certainly ruined a lot of quotes. Out of all the tables in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge, 6.9% chose Great Britain to win them all.

Auburn was selected by 11 experts to make it to the Finals, but the Tigers failed to get past 10th seed Miami in round 32.

Weekend of Ruins, Part 2

Let’s call Hogs, shall we?

The two powerhouse early eliminations by the SEC and Baylor, the defending national champion, prevented many of our pros from making it to the Perfect Finals. But it was the first night of the round of 16 Sweet that most people chose even though there were two correct teams.

The Arkansas Razorbacks’ 74-68 win over No. 1 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs was the third-biggest win (+9.5) in the Sweet Round of 16 since 1985, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information. The Zags were selected by 88% of experts (48 out of 54) to make it to the Finals. Of the ESPN charts, 22.8% had Gonzaga take the title, topping any team.

This leaves Zags with 23 consecutive NCAA tournaments without winning a title. Gonzaga’s record continues to be sustained with an extremely long post-season title drought in the sports. The Chicago Blackhawks reached the knockout stages for 28 consecutive seasons (1971-98) without winning the Stanley Cup. The Stanford women’s basketball team entered 27 consecutive NCAA tournaments (1993-2019) without a title. Unlike Gonzaga, however, Cardinal overcame their drought with championships in 1992 and 2021.

The first night of the Sweet Round of 16 also saw a third No. 1 seed eliminated. The fifth seed Houston Cougars crushed the Arizona Wildcats. This was the fourth time since the 1985 Open that the three No. 1 seeds were eliminated against the Elite Eight. 29 pros had Zona in the Final Four.

The second night of Sweet 16 saw the return of Saint Peter to deal more damage. This time, with a 67-64 win, the Peacocks took down the Boiling Purdue team, whom the six attending members chose to make it to the Finals. The two have won Purdue titles.

Strength rating of destroying brackets 2022 (number indicates that the experts’ picks have been eliminated)

1. Arkansas Razorbacks (48, Gonzaga type)

2. Saint Peter’s Peacocks (43 years old, Kentucky variety, Purdue)

3. Houston Cougars (29, Arizona type)

4. Hurricane Miami (11, removed Auburn)

Pick an unpopular option?

Duke Blue Demons – if you haven’t heard of them, they are the underdogs of this tournament. An uncommon choice among our experts. Duke was selected to make it to the Finals only by one of our panelists. With a win over Arkansas in the Elite Eight, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski made it to the 13th Finals in his last NCAA tournament before retiring.

Villanova, the winner in the Southern Region, was chosen by just five experts.

Thank Jayhawks

Many experts may have been quite worried. 1st seed Kansas Jayhawks were half way behind Miami, 10th seed, in the Elite Eight. This is the first time the Jayhawks have followed the halves since February 12.

However, Kansas continued to run 25-7 momentum in the first 10 minutes of the second half and eventually blew Canes away. The 76-50 win gives Kansas a final 4th place, as predicted by the 27 panelists.

For all but four pros, Kansas was the only team they were right.

Oh-for-54

North Carolina Tar Heels are a popular athlete in the sport, but they entered the 2022 tournament as the 8th seed. Saint Peter’s, once again, is the 15th seed! The Peacocks once had only four alumni who played professional basketball, most recently Rich Rinaldi in 1974. The pros should probably approve of the lack of either team. They’ve had it pretty hard already.

What is more regrettable is that the 25 panelists did not choose the correct option. However, the four pickers can still nail their national champion prediction.

All hail Jay Alter

The game-by-game announcer is the undisputed king of the 2022 picks. He’s the only panelist to pick exactly three of the four Finals teams.

But even he was bitten by Saint Peter’s upset about Kentucky.

“I should be happy, especially with all the turmoil we’ve seen, winning three of the Four Finals is great,” Alter said. “But I’ve got UNC-Kentucky in the Elite Eight in my East Division. If I just picked UNC to go one more round, it would be a perfect Finals.”

Alter’s Duke selection to win them all is called the “on an island” selection.

“I guess the weather on the island is pretty nice,” Alter said.

https://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/33616166/march-madness-2022-espn-experts-got-right-wrong-final-four-picks March Madness 2022 – ESPN experts figured out what was right and wrong in Four’s final picks

Luke Plunkett

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