By JD McKay and Adam Hynes
After an eternity of NBA garbage and no football, we have finally made it to one of the best and most exciting months of sports. March. When any true sports fan hears that magical word, they think of madness and picture a bracket filled with Cinderella stories, basketball powerhouses like Duke or Kansas and on April 2, a champion.
This basketball season has been ridiculous. There were zero teams with an undefeated record in 2017, and two teams ranked in the Top 10 half way through the season, and both ended as bubble teams. So, we will do our best to describe to you how to fill out the perfect NCAA tournament bracket. We will predict the Final Four and National Championship, as well as one team we expect to advance deep into March that is worse than a six seed.
JD: In the South Bracket [top left], I’m picking Virginia. Picking against the number one overall seed is not easy, especially when they can play from behind and in close game. Ask any U of L fan. Plus, their defense is remarkable, holding teams to 53 points per game is incredible, especially in a conference that produced nine tournament teams.
Adam: I have Virginia coming out of the South, beating out Arizona in the Elite Eight. With Tony Bennett’s suffocating defense, I do not think there is a team in their section of the bracket who can beat out the Cavaliers.
JD: In the West [bottom left], I like Michigan. The reason, one word: momentum.
Adam: In the West, I think Michigan will make it through to the Final Four. They will beat out North Carolina in a thriller in the Sweet Sixteen and easily beat Ohio State to reach their eighth Final Four appearance.
JD: In the East [top right], I see Purdue advancing to the Final Four. Mainly because the East is pathetic. Aside from Villanova, there are no really teams I see in the Final Four.
Adam: In the East, Villanova will have an easy run to the Final Four, with their only real challenge being two-seed Purdue. There is not much talent in the East region, unless West Virginia is able to make some noise against Villanova in the Sweet Sixteen.
JD: The Midwest [bottom right], is by far the toughest bracket, but Michigan State could come out of that bracket and push to the Final Four. They performed well to start the season, but have died down since then. Maybe the break they got from losing the Big Ten Tournament early will get them back to how they played earlier this season.
Adam: The Midwest will be a tough call. With underrated Michigan State, top-seeded Kansas, and a hot duo in Grayson Allen and Marvin Bagley at Duke, it is hard to predict who will make it out. I have Duke beating out Kansas to go to the Final Four, as long as they keep playing at the level they are.
JD: The Cinderella team I like is Missouri. They have one of the best players in the country in Michael Porter, Jr., but he was out the whole season until the SEC tournament, where you could see the lack of team chemistry. The week they will have between the SEC tournament and NCAA tournament should develop that chemistry and propel them deep into March.
Adam: My Cinderella team is nine seed Florida State. The Seminoles have stayed consistent all season, and got a win over North Carolina earlier in the season. They have no bad losses, and will end up making a run past Xavier to the Sweet Sixteen before losing to Ohio State.
JD: My Final Four consists of three Big Ten teams and Virginia. The National Championship will see Purdue playing Michigan, but once again I like the Wolverines over the Boilermakers, because of momentum.
Adam: Virginia will beat Michigan in the Final Four in a blowout, and stop the Wolverines from going to the championship game. Duke will beat Villanova in overtime and advance. The championship game will be close, but the Marvin Bagley factor will come into play, with Virginia not having any real big guys down low. Duke wins 62-56.