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The Hand-Written Bracket is Back; My Picks for March Madness 2022

Updated: May 10, 2022

Last year, I wrote a piece about what the hand-written bracket means to me. Sure, I was definitely on the older end of being a "technology kid," as our generation just missed the wave of being glued to its iPads and phones before we even hit high school.

But to me, ESPN and CBS's bracket apps just didn't cut it. So "fire up the Excel sheet, get the pens out, and get to work" was the mantra in our house.

Now, years later, we've merged with College Hoops Digest to create a titan brand in college basketball. We're running our pool on PlayAction Pools, which has a simple, easy-to-use interface, so anyone can do it! You may even win some merch.

Behold, here are the picks for 2022. On our letterhead, in my handwriting. Nothing better.

A few big comments:

  • I started 2-2. Texas Southern and Indiana took care of business - even if they were some ugly games. Bryant and Rutgers, though? Let's not talk about it. Who would've thought a team from 12 miles down the road had an advantage (sorry, not mad at you Wright State) and a program whose mascot is literally the Fighting Irish would steal a win in 2OT on St. Patrick's Day? Fishy, you may say...

  • Upset Watch: #13 Vermont, #13 Chattanooga, #11 Iowa State, #10 Miami FL. Each of these teams has their own lust of sort to reel us into picking them, but I think there's some true merit to this too. When Providence played Vermont in December, Ed Cooley said "I don't think people will appreciate how good of a win this is for us," and ain't that the truth! Vermont's defense is good, they're an extremely efficient offensive team, and they might punch the Muss Buss (Arkansas) in the mouth in round 1. Chattanooga is playing Illinois at the right time; after David Jean-Baptiste sunk a major 3 at the buzzer for the Mocs to win their conference, who can stop them? Iowa State is literally playing an LSU team that doesn't have a head coach, and Miami (FL) has turned it around recently too.

  • Watch out for Murray State and Iowa. Two teams that I think can make their own sneaky run of sorts are ranked $7 and #5 respectively. Starting with Murray; the Racers are 30-2 this year, and they're somehow a better team than they were with generational talent Ja Morant back in 2019. If that team can beat a loaded Marquette, I think Murray might be able to not only crush San Francisco, but give Kentucky a run for its money, too. Purdue may be a bit much to swallow, but don't be surprised if we're watching a Murray State-Baylor Elite 8 game. On the other hand, Iowa wasn't as sexy of a pick before they ran the table in the Big Ten tournament. Fran McCaffrey's group has some really good shooters in Keegan Murray and Jordan Bohannon, and plays big & scary defense to go with it. In fact, an original version of my bracket had Iowa in the championship game. I just think they will run out of steam, having one of the hardest paths to NOLA in the bracket; they'd beat Richmond, Providence, Kansas, and one of Wisconsin/Auburn to get there. I have Iowa getting bounced to Wisconsin in the Elite 8.

Final Four: Duke, Purdue, Villanova, Wisconsin

  • Duke is a team of destiny. As a Connecticut kid, I was born and raised to hate three programs: Villanova, Syracuse, and...Duke. Behold, I've picked two of them to reach the finals. Duke on Championship Weekend is something I've thought of as a near-guarantee this year. Yes, I know they're stumbling of late. Yes, I know there's rumors about an apathetic locker room. Yes, I hear that we just want Coach K's living funeral to be over. But you can't tempt fate, and St. Michael will have his way. Duke is adding another ring to its arsenal.

  • Honorable mention: Villanova. Sure, this may be not as deep of a bench as Villanova is used to having over the years, but I love the way this team has evolved over the season. Collin Gillespie has transformed to a pass-first guard, encouraging Justin Moore and Jermaine Samuels - and others - to get involved in the offense at a higher clip. Nova plays disciplined, methodical basketball, and I think it's enough to get the youthful Arizona off its back. 'Zona has some good wins this year, but the original Wildcats may have a small advantage just from being there before.

  • Honorable mention: Purdue. Lots of pundits have Purdue potentially getting bounced by either Kentucky or Baylor, but my stance differs. I can agree that Purdue had some tough losses, but they're too composed and too talented to not ride this one pretty far. The Boilermakers will go as Jaden Ivey goes, so if he doesn't bring his A-game, this could be a disappointing exit.

  • Honorable mention: Wisconsin. I originally didn't have the Badgers past the Sweet 16, but they've resurged on my list. Wisconsin was playing great basketball before they had an early exit in the Big Ten tournament, and lots are betting against it continuing. I'll be the dissenter to the majority, and say Wisconsin can beat Iowa State (or LSU), Auburn, and then whoever escapes from a potential Kansas-Iowa matchup (or Kansas-Providence for the dreamers).


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