It is that time of year again, when we all become experts on College Basketball and attempt to perfect the bracket and make sense of what RPI and Top 50 wins count for.
March Madness brings the United States to a standstill from the first Thursday of the tournament it is an unofficial holiday with daytime basketball, office pools and lots of chip dip being consumed.
The tournament bracket again provides ample opportunity for storylines. Whenever I complete a bracket I like doing a virtual chalk version and then another that contains upsets. Here though is my thoughtful and realistic breakdown of the tournament region by region
East Region - #1 seed, Villanova Wildcats
In the same region is Duke (2), Baylor (3) and Virginia (5); for me, Virginia are the side to avoid as they are defensively difficult to breakdown and a worry for a Nova side that relies on good 3 point shooting; if they do not drop in that match up Virginia could cause the upset in a potential Sweet 16 tie.
|Luke Kennard leads the backcourt of Duke|
West Region - ##1 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs
This writer likes all of those teams and this is Gonzaga who cannot make the Final Four for love nor money, and there is a lot of potential in those other teams. The Zags are good at both ends of the court, yet will they be able to contend with the length of both Zona and Florida State, or the attritional ball they will face in a potential match up with West Virginia who force turnovers ad nauseam; the Mountaineers play high tempo press and have the game to sustain over a two week period.
|Lauri Markkanen - A dominant force for Arizona|
South Region - #1 seed North Carolina Tar Heels
|Lonzo Ball - UCLA star|
For that reason you feel the winner of that tie will face the Tar Heels in Elite Eight and they should get there with the Butler Bulldogs being the only potential roadblock for them; for me though the Bruins have that canny x-factor potential to reach the Final Four.
Midwest Region - #1 seed Kansas Jayhawks
The Jayhawks have been a No.1 seed for much of the season but they have played poorly a lot of times using up a lot of luck and good fortune to overcome huge deficits such as the 14 point down with three minutes left versus West Virginia. The Jayhawks have the Player of the Year in Frank Mason, but troublesome Josh Jackson needs to keep his head and avoid early foul trouble. A potential Sweet 16 versus conference rival Iowa State is not kind but they could get upset by Caleb Swanigan and his Purdue Boilermakers.
|Caleb Swanigan - Averages 18.7pts, 12.6 rebounds a game|
The Louisville Cardinals are the perennial tournament team, tough to score against and efficient themselves on offense, whilst Oregon Ducks must overcome the loss of their top defender, Chris Boucher, to an ACL tear. This region has two dark horse, #10 Oklahoma State who are high scoring and #11 Rhode Island who could be the Cinderella and if they beat Creighton face Oregon. Not the toughest of regions but one full of surprises though.
Final Four Predictions:
Duke Blue Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Kansas Jayhawks, UCLA Bruins
Arizona Wildcats versus Kansas Jayhawks