NCAA tournament bracket picks: Bill Plaschke's prediction for every game

Connecticut is attempting to become the first team to win consecutive titles since Florida 17 years ago. The tournament’s top seed is missing two stars from last year’s championship but they return the one mandatory piece for a Final Four contender — a veteran point guard. He is Tristen Newton, and he should be able to navigate the Huskies out of potential Auburn trouble in the Sweet 16 and lead them on a seemingly inevitable journey to Glendale, Ariz., and State Farm Stadium for the Final.

Hold up…

The Huskies will lose in the Elite Eight to the quietly elite Iowa State. The second-seeded Cyclones are devoid of superstars, but they have a bunch of solid players who ranked second in the country in defense and who just won the tournament championship of easily the toughest conference in the country, the Big 12. They beat Houston twice, they beat Kansas, and they will beat Connecticut.

First Round

Connecticut def. Stetson — Friday, 11:45 a.m.| CBS

Northwestern def. Florida Atlantic — Friday, 9:15 a.m. | CBS

Alabama Birmingham def. San Diego State — Friday, 10:45 a.m. | TNT

Auburn def. Yale — Friday, 1:15 p.m. | TNT

Brigham Young def. Duquesne — Thursday, 9:40 a.m. | TruTV

Illinois def. Morehead State — Thursday, 9:15 a.m. | TruTV

Washington State def. Drake — Thursday, 7:05 p.m. | TruTV

Iowa State def. South Dakota State — Thursday, 4:35 p.m. | TruTV

Second Round

Connecticut def. Northwestern

Auburn def. Alabama Birmingham

Brigham Young def. Illinois

Iowa State def. Washington State

Sweet 16

Connecticut def. Auburn

Iowa State def. Brigham Young

Elite Eight

Iowa State def. Connecticut

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