I’m sure the world is still in shock as we finally saw a top seed lose to a 16th seed. The UMBC Retrievers beat the #1 overall seed in the Virginia Cavaliers by 20 points. Therefore, I say that March Madness is the best sporting event in all of sports. Whether it’s buzzer beaters or watching an underdog making a Cinderella run is something that makes it amazing. For some crazy reason I didn’t post anything about the NCAA Tournament, but I managed to make three brackets. They have been a disaster, but with Sweet 16 coming up this weekend, let’s see how things will fare. Coming into this Sweet 16 weekend, we only have two #1 seeds remaining. If that wasn’t enough, we have saw a ton of upset through the first two rounds of the tournament. Let’s see who I think will advance to the Final Four.
We kick things off top-seeded Villanova Wildcats taking on the 5th seed West Virginia Mountaineers. Despite all the upsets, Villanova has taken care of business in the first two rounds of the tournament. They won both of their games by a combined 49 points. The Wildcats came into this tournament as one of the favorites to win it all. Can they continue their dominant run against the feisty Mountaineers? West Virginia looked great in their first two games also. They won their first two games by a combined 40 points to advance to the Sweet 16. If West Virginia were to advance, they will have to use that pressure defense to get turnovers. This should be one of the more competitive match-ups and I think Villanova will advance to the Elite 8.
In the second game of the East Region, we have the 2nd seed taking on the 3rd seed. The 2nd seed Purdue Boilermakers barely edged the Butler Bulldogs in their second-round match-up. Purdue lost their big man Issac Haas in the opening round with a broken elbow. It was thought he was lost for the season, but the Purdue engineers are working a brace that the NCAA must approved for him to use. With Haas, Purdue got a good shot at advancing to the Final Four. The Texas Tech Red Raiders enter this game after barely getting by the Florida Gators. The Red Raiders were one of the better teams in the tough Big-12 conference. If Haas plays and be effective, the Red Raiders will have issues with their length. Either way, Purdue is a wonderful team and should advance to the Elite 8.
We kick things off with the top-seed Kansas taking on the 5th seed Clemson. It seems like Kansas is hitting their stride and coasted to the 2nd round. They faced a tough Seton Hall and barely edged them as they head into this Sweet 16 match-up against Clemson. On the other hand, Clemson looked great in their 2nd round match-up against the Auburn Tigers. Auburn finished tied for the regular season crown with Tennessee and they managed to blow them out by 31 points. Trust me, this will be a much closer game and I think the big game experience of Kansas will help them win.
In the second game we have two of the storied programs in the history of college basketball. The 2nd seed Duke Blue Devils will battle the Syracuse Orangemen, who’s the 11th seed. Duke has won their first two games by a total of 47 points. It seems like the Blue Devils are clicking on all cylinders at the right time. Syracuse pulled off the huge upset over Michigan State, who was the team I thought would win it all. The Syracuse defense has been stellar in the first two games. The big issue for the Orange will be the lack of offense and it will lead to Duke winning this game.
This is the region where we have saw some major upsets in the first two rounds. Kentucky is the highest seeded team left in the region as the 5th seed. Kentucky will battle 9th seed Kansas State for the right to take the next step to a Final Four berth. After barely getting by Davidson in the first round, they manhandled Buffalo in the 2nd round. Kansas State took care of Creighton in the opening round before beating the 16th seed UMBC Retrievers to reach the Sweet 16. For me, Kentucky is the better team and hitting their peak at the right time. I’m going with Kentucky to advance to the Region Finals.
Who had Nevada taking on Loyola-Chicago in the Sweet 16? This match-up is what March Madness is all about. You have two teams that no one picked to reach this point being a couple games from a possible Final Four appearance. Loyola-Chicago won their first two games by a combined 3 points with the first game ending with a 3-pointer at the buzzer. In the second round, they ended the run of 3rd seed Tennessee. Nevada won their first two games by a total of 6 points. This should be a healluva game between these two, but I have Nevada taking that next step.
In the first game, we have the 9th seed Florida State battling the 4th seed in Gonzaga. Florida State handled a very good Missouri team in the first round before upsetting the top-seed Xavier to advance to the Sweet 16. The Seminoles are capable of upsetting anyone at any given time. Can they punch their ticket to the Regional Championship game? Gonzaga has been one of the more consistent teams for the past several years. Coach Mark Few seems to outdo himself every year when it comes to coaching and this year is no different. This should be a tough game for the Bulldogs, but I see them edging out the Seminoles to advance to the Region title game.
In the final game, we have the 3rd seed Michigan Wolverines battling the 7th seed in the Texas A&M Aggies. Michigan is currently on a 11-game winning streak after hitting a buzzer-beater to beat Houston to reach the Sweet 16. The sign of a good team is winning even though they’re not playing their best basketball and that’s what Michigan did. As far as Texas A&M is concerned, they were very impressive in their rout against defending champion, North Carolina. With consistent guard play and their big guys stepping up, they could be trouble. Despite Michigan coming in on a winning streak, the Aggies look to be the better team. Texas A&M will advance to the play Gonzaga to see who advances to the Final Four.
Texas A&M Win
The only region that puts the top two seeds playing each other in the Region title game. One of the tournament favorites, Villanova will battle the Purdue Boilermakers. Villanova has been getting great play from everyone throughout the tournament. With this being the Region Championship game, this trend should continue as they’re built for these big games. Can the Wildcats handle the Boilermakers pressure and reach the Final Four? The success of Purdue will all depend on the health of Isaac Haas and his broken elbow. If the training staff put together a device to help him play without discomfort or pain, they have a chance. The big game experience will be too much for Purdue and Villanova will reach the Final Four.
Villanova Wins and Reach Final Four
When it comes to all-time great programs in college basketball, these two will always be mentioned. The #1 seed Kansas Jayhawks will battle the 2nd seed in the Duke Blue Devils for the right to go to the Final Four. Kansas is a team mixed with veteran leadership and some young guys who contributed to their success this year. Devante Graham is the one guy for Kansas who could put the team on his back and carry them. Can he come up big against the talented backcourt of the Blue Devils? Duke got arguably the best player in the country in Marvin Bagley III. Wendell Carter Jr. is another Blue Devil is projected to be a top-10 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft that will make a difference. This should be the most contested game in the Elite 8 and I’m giving the Blue Devils the advantage to advance.
Duke Wins and Reach Final Four
We head to the South Region for their Championship game. The 5th seed Kentucky Wildcats will battle the 7th seed Nevada Wolfpack for the right to head to the Final Four. Many thought Kentucky had a fair chance to reach this point, but they would have to go through Arizona and Virginia to get here. This young Wildcats team is peaking at the right time with the hot hand of Kevin Knox. With Nevada, it’s safe to say that not many people saw them reaching this point. After watching these guys play, they have extraordinary talent and the heart of a champion. John Calipari is a coach that can attack your weakness and stop your strengths. I’m riding with Kentucky to reach the Final Four.
Kentucky Wins and Reach Final Four
Finally, we have the West Region Championship game. We have the 4th seed Gonzaga Bulldogs taking on the 7th seed in the Texas A&M Aggies for the right to head to the Final Four. Gonzaga won their first two games by a total 10 points. The Bulldogs offense has looked great in the opening two rounds and Mark Few is one of the more underrated coaches in the game. Can the Zags reach the Final Four? Texas A&M have looked great during the tournament and their frontcourt has been dominating. Will the Aggies continue their great play lead them to a Final Four appearance? I’m going with Gonzaga to barely get by and advance to the Final Four.
Gonzaga Wins and Reach Final Four
Villanova Wildcats vs. Duke Blue Devils
Kentucky Wildcats vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Who do you have reaching the Final Four? What do you think about my picks? Have you enjoyed March Madness? Leave a comment below.