My favorite time of the year has arrived: March Madness! I know many of you will be filling out brackets, and I am here to help. I am here to break down each region, predict the Final Four teams and who will win it all!
Team to watch: Virginia.
The Virginia Cavaliers should be the favorites to win it all. They went 31-2 in the brutal ACC…absolutely remarkable. Virginia is the best defensive team in the nation. Everyone knows how dominant they are on that side of the floor, but don’t sleep on their offense! They are a very patient team that almost always gets a good shot. The Cavaliers will be a tough out for sure.
Player to watch: Deandre Ayton.
Arizona’s 7’1 big man could very well be the number one pick in June’s NBA draft. Ayton was an unstoppable force in the recent PAC 12 tourney, averaging 25 points, 13 rebounds on 62 fg%.It would be very interesting to see Ayton up against Virginia’s excellent defense in the Sweet 16.
Who makes it out?
Virginia. Best defensive team in the country, best team in the country.
Team to watch: Villanova
Outside of Virginia, the Wildcats are the best team in the nation and I’m not sure it’s close. They are lead by a possible Wooden Award winner in Jalen Brunson. Experience is always key in March Madness, and the Wildcats have that in a starting lineup with four juniors.
Player to watch: Jevon Carter
The senior guard from West Virginia averages 17 points per game on offense while being one of the best defenders in the nation. We will see how far he can lead the Mountaineers in his final NCAA tourney.
Who makes it out?
I don’t see anyone in this region beating the Villanova Wildcats.
Team to watch: Gonzaga
There’s a reason why Gonzaga has made the tourney 20 years in a row. It would be wrong to sleep on last year’s runner up. They are entering the tourney on a 14 game winning streak.
Player to watch: Michael Porter Jr.
Michael Porter Jr. (MPJ) was one of the best high school players in the nation a year ago. However, he was expected be done for the season after undergoing back surgery in November. Unexpectedly, Porter returned in the SEC tourney. Despite only playing 25 minutes all season, MPJ is projected by many as a top 6 pick in the upcoming NBA draft. Is he fully healthy? Will MPJ dominate in the tourney?
Who makes it out?
This may be the weakest region in the tourney. If there’s a region to pick below the top two seeds to make the final four, it’s this one. Gonzaga will go to the final four for the second year in a row.
Team to watch: Michigan State
Michigan State entered the season ranked 2nd in the entire country. The Spartans should feel that they should have been better than a three seed. That, and the fact they will have had over a week and a half between their last game (a loss to their heated rivals Michigan) and their round of 64 game against Bucknell are two things that could light a fire under Michigan State.
Player to watch: Miles Bridges.
Why did Miles Bridges return to Michigan State? To win a national title, which would undoubtedly cement his legacy as one of the greatest Spartans ever. The key for Bridges is to drive the ball. He’s a very good shooter, but sometimes he’ll throw up a three when being tightly guarded on the three point line or pull up for a contested mid range shot. Given his size, strength and athleticism, he can get to rim whenever he wants. If Bridges distributes his drives and jump shots at a good rate, I’m not sure if there’s a player in the country who can stop him.
Who makes it out? Duke
Hard to bet against a team with five potential first round picks this upcoming June, including Marvin Bagely III who could be the first overall selection. A potential roadblock to the BlueDevil’s return to the Final Four would be the Michigan State Spartans. Mike Kyrzewski in his career is 11-1 against Tom Izzo, including an early season win in November.
Villanova over Duke.
I am picking Villanova over Duke in this potential matchup for two simple yet very important reasons. Remember how I said that experience matters in the tourney? Villanova starts four Juniors and Duke starts 4 freshman. The second reason is defense. I don’t see the Blue Devils being able to contain the Wildcats attack.
Virginia over Gonzaga.
Virginia is simply the better team here. Gonzaga had a great run, but it ends here.
National title game:
Virginia over Villanova
The two best teams don’t often meet in the national title game. But this year, I think it happens. This potential matchup could be a classic. I think Virginia would pull it off thanks to their excellent defense.