Gonzaga, Arizona favored by NBC Sports Chicago ‘experts'


If there’s a sporting event that transcends its own game and league, it’s got to be March Madness, especially the first two days of the men’s NCAA tournament, when even MLB spring training keeps one eye on the basketball being played nonstop on every TV in clubhouses across Arizona and Florida.

It’s in that spirit that we interrupt your already previously interrupted 2022 baseball spring (and the NBA and NHL playoff-position pushes) to share the NCAA bracket picks of our NBC Sports Chicago “experts.”

That includes the biggest upset of the tourney before the first games were even complete — an actual agreement between podcast and broadcast adversaries David Kaplan and Gordon Wittenmyer on Arizona as the eventual tournament winner.

“Shocking,” one follower on Twitter called it.

“Hard to believe that while Gordon is a very good friend, we never agree,” said Kaplan, NBC Sports Chicago’s multimedia sports personality. “But we are aligned and in lockstep on the Arizona Wildcats.”

“Ridiculous!” Wittenmyer, Cubs Insider for NBC Sports Chicago, said when he learned of Kaplan’s pick.

Kaplan: “Take that!”

The other big upset in our expert picks comes from Bulls analyst Kendall Gill — the same Kendall Gill of Illinois Final Four fame and glory — picking against the Big Ten regular-season-champion Illini to go with Gonzaga as his tourney winner.

While we wait for the explanation on that shocker, here’s a rundown of our NBC Sports Chicago picks:

Bulls analyst Will Perdue

Pick: Gonzaga. Explanation: “It’s finally time for Gonzaga to break through and dance to the championship. The have the talent, the necessary length and plenty of experience.”

Bulls reporter Rob Schaefer

Pick: Gonzaga. Explanation: “Gotta happen one of these years, right?”

Bulls analyst Kendall Gill

Pick: Gonzaga. Explanation: [inexplicable].

Bulls Insider K.C. Johnson

Pick: Gonzaga. Explanation: “So says the guy who didn’t watch one second of college basketball all season.”

Editor’s note: Some “experts” on panel may have less “expertise” than some others.

Multimedia personality David Kaplan

Pick: Arizona. Explanation: “They have a deep roster, the coach of the year [Tommy Lloyd] and with the scandal behind them it’s their time.”

Cubs reporter Tim Stebbins

Pick: Arizona. Explanation: “With my beloved Blue Demons not in the tournament, I’m going with a trendy pick.”

Editor’s note: See previous “editor’s note.”

Cubs Insider Gordon Wittenmyer

Pick: Arizona. Explanation: “They have a lineup of 7-footers who can handle the ball, shoot, play the post and defend. And they won the freaking Conference of Champions.”

Bears reporter Alex Shapiro

Pick: Arizona. Explanation: "The Wildcats don’t just win, they win big. They cruised through the Pac-12 tourney and are playing great at the right time.”

White Sox anchor and reporter Chuck Garfein

Pick: Arizona. Explanation: "With the lockout over and Cactus League baseball back in our lives, it's got to be Arizona!"

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