Welcome to the official Alex Hickey 2022 NCAA Tournament bracket.

What you are reading could go down as a historic document. If I get every game correct, I’ll win one of those contests that pays out millions. You’ll likely never hear from me again.

In other words, it will work out pretty well for all of us.

But enough with the background info. Let’s dig in to the picks. Replicate them if you’re feeling lucky, or fade them if you’re smart.

One thing you shouldn’t expect to find — Big Ten homerism. Though I can see the potential for a Final Four in which Iowa, Purdue and Illinois all make it, I didn’t have the gumption to actually pick it.

West Region

First Round

No. 1 Gonzaga over No. 16 Georgia State

Ron Hunter isn’t falling off that chair for this version of the Panthers. Partly because he’s at Tulane now, and partly because Georgia State isn’t winning this game.

No. 9 Memphis over No. 8 Boise State

It helps the Broncos that this game will be played in Portland, but Penny Hardaway’s Tigers are one of the hottest teams in the country.

No. 5 UConn over No. 12 New Mexico State

This is New Mexico State’s 9th NCAA appearance since 2010. The Aggies have not won any of those games. They won’t start now.

No. 13 Vermont over No. 4 Arkansas

The Catamounts are primed for an upset in Buffalo. Vermont is 3rd nationally in 2-point shooting, and 22nd in 2-point defense. Arkansas is only 129th in 2-point shooting and 313th in 3-point shooting.

A 13-seed or lower seemingly moves on every year, and few have better odds than Vermont.

No. 11 Rutgers over No. 6 Alabama

I’ve been backing the Scarlet Knights all year, and I’m not going to stop now no matter what the stats say. I’ll take Rutgers over Bama after beating Notre Dame in the First Four.

That back-to-back probably couldn’t be replicated in football, but it doesn’t need to be.

No. 3 Texas Tech over No. 14 Montana State

Nothing indicates this game will be close.

No. 10 Davidson over No. 7 Michigan State

It’s a near home game for Davidson, and Michigan State could be without starting guard Tyson Walker. Bad combination.

No. 2 Duke over No. 15 Cal State Fullerton

We will always remember the Titans if they beat Coach K in his final game. But I’m guessing they’ll make a different type of footnote.

Second Round

No. 9 Memphis over No. 1 Gonzaga

I’m not bagging on the Zags. A couple weeks back I deemed Memphis the 8-seed or lower I would hate to face in March, and this is no time to let off the gas. I would not pick the other 7 teams seeded 8th or 9th to beat Gonzaga. Only the Tigers.

No. 5 UConn over No. 13 Vermont

The Huskies are too good for the Catamounts to mount some sustained magic.

No. 11 Rutgers over No. 3 Texas Tech

The Red Raiders can struggle offensively, which is precisely the right fit for Rutgers to spring an upset into the Sweet 16.

No. 2 Duke over No. 10 Davidson

It would be fun to see Bob McKillop beat his fellow septuagenarian head coach of a private school in North Carolina, but the Wildcats don’t have the firepower.

Sweet 16

No. 5 UConn over No. 9 Memphis

Just as in his playing days, Penny gets the Tigers to the Sweet 16 — but once again the road will end there.

No. 2 Duke over No. 11 Rutgers

The most popular college basketball team in New Jersey moves on.

Elite 8

No. 2 Duke over No. 5 UConn

Coach K’s career ending at the hands of a Hurley brother would be amazing. But this is my narrative, so I have an even better one in mind.`

East Region

First Round

No. 1 Baylor over No. 16 Norfolk State

The Spartans would have a shot if they got Mizzou again. But everyone has a shot when they get Mizzou.

No. 8 North Carolina over No. 9 Marquette

The state of Texas is the last place Shaka Smart wants to be if he’s going to win a basketball game. And this game is in Fort Worth. Heels win.

No. 12 Indiana over No. 5 Saint Mary’s

After beating Wyoming in Dayton, the Hoosiers will continue their West Coast domination by downing the Gaels in Portland.

No. 4 UCLA over No. 13 Akron

I feel like this game was scheduled to make LeBron pay attention. But if there’s a tight whistle, you may too. Akron is 5th nationally at getting to the free-throw line. If the officiating crew doesn’t let UCLA play, things could get interesting.

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No. 11 Virginia Tech over No. 6 Texas

Just as I don’t expect Shaka to win a game in Texas, I don’t expect Texas to win a game at the arena of his current team. There’s probably a Bevo voodoo doll somewhere in the Fiserv Forum locker room.

No. 3 Purdue over No. 14 Yale

There will be some interesting scenes in the stands as Purdue engineering nerds run into Yale fans even nerdier than they are. It won’t be as interesting on the floor. Boilers roll.

No. 7 Murray State over No. 10 San Francisco

I would have taken both of these teams if they faced anyone other than themselves. I hate when the selection team puts mid-majors together like this. Let one of these teams play USC or Miami instead of lumping those 2 together.

No. 2 Kentucky over No. 15 Saint Peter’s

Saint Peter’s, which rates 352nd in avoiding blocked shots, faces Oscar Tshiebwe. Good luck, fellas!

Second Round

No. 1 Baylor over No. 8 North Carolina

Defensive rebounding is the one thing the Tar Heels do well, ranking 2nd nationally. But Baylor is 7th in offensive rebounding. And without that advantage, this will get ugly.

No. 4 UCLA over No. 12 Indiana

Indiana’s final 2 losses this season are meant to come against teams formerly coached by Steve Alford.

No. 11 Virginia Tech over No. 3 Purdue

The Hokies are No. 3 nationally in 3-point shooting, and that’s a darn good formula for picking off Purdue.

No. 2 Kentucky over No. 7 Murray State

This reminds me of when Wichita State got Kentucky in the Second Round. I think the Racers have Elite 8 potential, but they’ve been stuck with a lousy draw. But at least it’ll make for the most fun day in the Commonwealth before May.

Sweet 16

No. 1 Baylor over No. 4 UCLA

Bears beat Bruins in an early matchup of 2 Final Four teams from a year ago.

No. 2 Kentucky over No. 11 Virginia Tech

Hokie magic will run dry against Kentucky, which defends the 3 fairly well.

Elite 8

No. 2 Kentucky over No. 1 Baylor

A true toss-up game, so I’m letting narrative determine the winner. This sets up a Duke-Kentucky matchup in the national semifinal.

South Region

First Round

No. 1 Arizona over No. 16 Wright State

Wright State isn’t losing a First Four game to Bryant in its home city. But they will lose to Arizona anywhere.

No. 8 Seton Hall over No. 9 TCU

Of all the 8 vs. 9 toss-ups, this feels the most tossed up.

No. 5 Houston over No. 12 UAB

Former Conference USA foes renew old acquaintances in the very non-Southern locale of Pittsburgh. This is the latest game on Friday night, so anything could happen — but probably won’t.

No. 4 Illinois over No. 13 Chattanooga

The Illini will be focused after getting bounced by Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament.

No. 11 Michigan over No. 6 Colorado State

The Wolverines should be in Dayton, but they’ll gladly take Indianapolis and a First Round win instead.

No. 3 Tennessee over No. 14 Longwood

I don’t see what’s so funny here, you juvenile.

No. 10 Loyola Chicago over No. 7 Ohio State

The Buckeyes are slumping, and the Ramblers are made for March. New coach Drew Valentine, the former Michigan State player, will win his postseason debut.

No. 2 Villanova over No. 15 Delaware

The ultimate regional showdown of fans wealthy enough to live in the Main Line and those who need a Delaware tax break to keep the big house.

Second Round

No. 1 Arizona over No. 8 Seton Hall

The Pirates are too inconsistent to top the Wildcats. I frequently got frustrated watching Seton Hall this season, but never with Arizona.

No. 5 Houston over No. 4 Illinois

I hate this matchup for the Illini, just as I hated last year’s Second Round draw of Loyola. Last year the Ramblers were good enough to be a 6-seed instead of an 8, and now the Cougars could be a 3 or 4 instead of a 5.

Trent Frazier and Kofi Cockburn deserve an extended run. If they can get past the Cougars, I like their chances of getting through this region. But it’ll be tough.

No. 3 Tennessee over No. 11 Michigan

I hope Peyton Manning spends this entire game texting trash to Tom Brady.

No. 2 Villanova over No. 10 Loyola Chicago

The Augustinians are underdogs against the Jesuits as measured by number of schools, but that won’t be the case on the scoreboard.

Sweet 16

No. 5 Houston over No. 1 Arizona

The winner of this game is going to the Final Four. According to the analytics, this is one of the closest potential matchups in the entire Tournament. If you simulated it 100 times, each team would win at least 40 of them. But with the game in San Antonio, I’m giving Houston the edge.

No. 3 Tennessee over No. 2 Villanova

The Vols have the defense to gum up Villanova’s potent offense.

Elite 8

No. 5 Houston over No. 3 Tennessee

This matchup is begging you to take the under, whatever it may be. Both defenses are elite, but I give the Coogs a slight offensive edge. Tennessee will cough it up too much to beat a deliberate offense.

Midwest Region

First Round

No. 1 Kansas over No. 16 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

There’s a lot of complaining over Texas A&M not being in the NCAA Tournament, but people are focused on the wrong campus. The Islanders will beat Texas Southern in the First Four before meeting their fate.

No. 8 San Diego State over No. 9 Creighton

First team to 50 wins — if either team gets there.

No. 5 Iowa over No. 12 Richmond

The Hawks will squash the Spiders after their Cinderella run through the Atlantic 10 Tourney.

No. 13 South Dakota State over No. 4 Providence

The Friars season-long luck will finally run out on St. Patrick’s Day against a Jackrabbits team that can get red-hot from outside.

No. 6 LSU over No. 11 Iowa State

Just like Michigan did in 1989, I expect LSU to go on an unexpected Tournament run right after its coach was fired.

No. 3 Wisconsin over No. 14 Colgate

The Badgers will brush aside Colgate — unless Johnny Davis goes 3-for-19 from the field like he did against Michigan state.

No. 7 USC over No. 10 Miami

This would have been a cool football game in like 2002.

No. 2 Auburn over No. 15 Jacksonville State

The Gamecocks are only here because Atlantic Sun Tournament winner Bellarmine isn’t yet eligible for the NCAA while transitioning from Division II. They won’t be here for long.

Second Round

No. 1 Kansas over No. 8 San Diego State

The Jayhawks will prevent the massive confusion that could be created by a San Diego State-South Dakota State Sweet 16 matchup.

No. 5 Iowa over No. 13 South Dakota State

So will the Hawkeyes.

No. 6 LSU over No. 3 Wisconsin

Even though it’s in Milwaukee, I think LSU’s feisty defense will bring an end to the suddenly vulnerable Badgers.

No. 7 USC over No. 2 AuburnĀ 

Shades of the 2004 football season as USC finishes ahead of Auburn — only in this case, they actually play one another.

Sweet 16

No. 5 Iowa over No. 1 Kansas

Iowa fans will pack Chicago’s United Center, and the Hawkeyes will send the Jayhawks packing.

No. 6 LSU over No. 7 USC

Interim coach Kevin Nickelberry never made it as a wise man, but he’ll make it to the Elite 8 as the Tigers continue their unlikely run.

Elite 8

No. 5 Iowa over No. 6 LSU

LSU’s offense is too limited to keep up with the hot-shooting Hawkeyes.

Final Four

No. 5 Houston over No. 5 Iowa

I love Iowa’s path until the Final Four. When I look at the South, I see 4 potential Final Four teams with defenses capable of finally shutting the Hawks down — Arizona, Tennessee, Illinois and Houston.

I think this is Iowa’s ceiling if any of those 4 teams pops up in the national semifinal. I’m just happening to pick Houston.

No. 2 Kentucky over No. 2 Duke

This is how it is meant to end for Coach K — with a devastating loss to Kentucky. In reality, I think Duke will likely lose before the Final Four. But I intentionally built my bracket around this outcome instead. Because I root for narratives.

National Championship

No. 2 Kentucky over No. 5 Houston

Oscar Tshiebwe is having an Anthony Davis-like impact on the Wildcats this season. Davis, of course, led Kentucky to a national championship in New Orleans 10 years ago.

And as we’ve established, I’m a sucker for narratives. So this is how it is meant to end.