Special Edition: 2022 Livewire March Madness Bracket Challenge

Keelin Davis, Executive Editor

The brackets have been set and we are ready to be back.

The Livewire bracket challenge is back and in-person once again this year. We are excited to bring back this annual tradition and bring you some paper brackets for you to submit to have a chance to win a gift card. 

Coming off of last year’s inconsistency, uncertainty and a tournament full of upsets, this past regular season has brought some normalcy back to the basketball world. Usual blue bloods have returned to their spot at the top and the rankings seemed to have set in and stayed consistent all year round. 

As of Sunday, March 13, the brackets were finalized following the conclusion of conference tournaments.

There are many teams who were generously seeded and some, not so much. While most teams earned their spot in the tournament, some were snubbed and had strong resumes that still were not selected. The first four teams out consisted of Texas A&M, Oklahoma, SMU and Dayton. Dayton’s snub came with a pure case of bad luck; Davidson winning their conference. Texas A&M’s snub has come with the biggest surprise so far. Their record and mid-season performances do not show the most success but their end-of-season wins against Alabama, Florida, Auburn and Arkansas prove that they should be going dancing. 

In the West Region of the bracket, the Gonzaga Bulldogs lead with the one seed. They are joined by some of the toughest teams in the dance and their road will not be one traveled with ease. Duke, the region’s two seed, is coming off the ACC Championship loss, and are hungrier than ever to win on Mike Krzyzewski’s retirement tour. Michigan State’s scrappy style of play will also give many teams a hard time in setting up offensive rhythm in key games. Upset-heavy Alabama also looks to attack teams with their heavy guard approach. In a classic five-12 seed matchup, New Mexico State looks to take down UConn in a slug-fest which may come down to which team can win the rebounding game. 

In the East Region, Baylor leads with the one seed. Their road looks to be fairly easy until the Sweet 16, where they have the chance of facing Saint Mary’s or UCLA. Saint Mary’s is a top defensive team in the country and their suffocation on their opponents leads to a massive amount of three’s on the offensive end. UCLA also brings some of the biggest size in the tournament, led behind Johnny Juzang, hungry for another Final Four run. In the bottom half of the region, Kentucky leads the way. They are on fire offensively and their experience on their team this year is unusual, but proved successful for the Wildcats. Athletic Murray State and ACC Champion Virginia Tech both look to make deep runs as well. Purdue and their strong offensive numbers can also prove to be devastating to any team who matches up with them. 

Moving into the South Region, Arizona leads as the one seed. Assuming that they make it to the Sweet 16, Illinois will look to give them a tough battle fueled by their front court, led by Kofi Cockburn. UAB also looks like a strong matchup against Houston and there is a large upset alert looming over that game. Jay Wright’s Villanova looks like a strong pick, as usual, to survive the earlier rounds. Their discipline and efficiency has proved its strength but Loyola Chicago’s continued success in March will look to break that. Tennessee also cannot go overlooked as their ability to convert turnovers to points has won them many important games during the regular season. They are certainly the team to watch in this region and it would not be a surprise to see them go far. 

Rounding off with the Midwest Region, Kansas and Auburn top the seeding, respectively. This region shows to be the weakest of the four but that does mean there will not be battles for the top-seeded teams. Iowa, Providence, LSU and Wisconsin all look to push past their first round matchups. Auburn may have a hard time against Jacksonville State, though, as Bruce Pearl’s inexperienced squad will have to face one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country. Their size and pure talent may carry them far but these lower seeded teams may give them a run for their money. 

This year’s field looks as balanced as ever and there really is no clear favorite for who will take it home. Much like every other tournament, there will be upsets and there will be teams who continue to prove why they are at the top.

In the end, I predict that the Final Four will consist of Duke, Kentucky, Tennessee and Iowa. Their strong resumes, size and efficiency on both ends of the floor will win them key games. From there, it looks like a toss-up but Kentucky’s experience and pure talent and Tennessee’s balanced attack and streaky offense will shine through. In the end, I believe that Tennessee will take home the National Championship. 

The Livewire Bracket Challenge is only $1 to enter and bracket submissions are due March 17 at 12 p.m. before the tournament starts at 12:15 p.m. Brackets must include your name and entries are unlimited. Pick up your paper bracket in the lunchroom or room 606 with your submission fee in hand. Tell your friends and get their brackets submitted!

Best of luck to all and the winner of the challenge will receive a gift card.