Time to put on your dancing shoes: NCAA Predictions
Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 21, 2013 16:03
March Madness is exactly what its title entails. It is pure madness from start to finish and sports gold for college basketball fans.
With a field of 68 teams, composing of elite programs, mid-majors, and the underdogs who only get in because they won their conference championship, the NCAA Tournament offers a chance for anyone- and any school- to make noise like no other sport offers.
Although the field is wide open, there are always a handful of teams that are favored to make the Final Four more so than others. That reigns true yet again, but unlike last year where nearly everyone picked Kentucky to win it all; there is no clear cut team to cut down the nets.
The trendy pick in the early going is the top overall seed Louisville. However, the Louisville Cardinals are in the toughest region- the Midwest- on paper. The Midwest Region possesses the likes of Duke, Michigan St, Oklahoma St, Oregon and the dangerous mid-major Creighton.
What makes Creighton so dangerous is they have the nation’s leading scorer in Junior Doug McDermott. Some wonder if he will be able to score against top competition, but if tournament history tells us anything, it’s that dynamic scorers have the ability to take their team deep in the tournament. Look no further than Kemba Walker leading his Connecticut Huskies to a title two years ago, and mid-major superstars Jimmer Freddette and Stephen Curry leading their teams deep in the tournament without having a whole lot of talent around them.
The West Region is the only region where the number one seed is not the favorite to reach the Final Four. The Gonzaga Bulldogs finished the season at number one in the entire country, but due to their small school status, they are not receiving any love from the experts.
The West appears to be pretty weak outside of the top seeds, but do not be surprised to see an epic rematch between fifth seed Wisconsin and second seed Ohio State with a trip to the Final Four on the line. The two faced off three times already this season including the Big Ten Championship game that Ohio State won 50-43.
The South Region is pretty stacked top to bottom as well. The top six seeds, Kansas, Georgetown, Florida, Michigan, VCU and UCLA, along with eight seed North Carolina could all represent the South Region in the Final Four.
Georgetown’s Otto Porter, Michigan’s Trey Burke and UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad all have the ability to take over a game and the entire tournament. VCU is a well-coached, mid-major team led by Shaka Smart that could make a run just like they did in 2011 when they reached the Final Four.
The East Region has five teams that could make a run- Indiana, NC State, Syracuse, Butler and Miami (FL). Indiana and Miami have the most talent in the region, but Syracuse’s smothering zone defense could guide them past Indiana.
Butler has been the ultimate Cinderella team over the past four years as they reached the National Championship in back to back years in 2010 and 2011, but lost both to Duke and Connecticut, respectively. Their run this year will most likely run out of steam as they could run into Miami in the Sweet 16.
The Elite Eight which is comprised of the last two teams in each region is hard to predict because upsets are so prevalent in the tournament. However, Louisville, Duke, Georgetown, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Indiana and Miami are my picks to reach the Elite Eight.
Advancing from the Elite Eight onward to the Final Four will be Duke, Ohio State, Georgetown and Miami. The matchups would be Duke vs. Ohio State and Georgetown vs. Miami.
Duke and Ohio State met earlier in the season as Duke defeated the Buckeyes 73-68. Many have been down on Duke after losing early in the ACC tournament, but they possess veteran leadership with senior Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee. Look for Duke to have a repeat performance and knock off Ohio State again.
The Georgetown and Miami matchup will be an exciting one to watch. They both have player of the year candidates in Otto Porter and Shane Larkin, respectively. Miami will probably be favored in this Final Four matchup, but Georgetown will outlast the Hurricanes and play for the title.
The Big Dance is now down to two, Duke and Georgetown. This will be a game for the ages, but Georgetown will not be able to matchup with Duke’s size down low. Ryan Kelly, standing at 6’11”, will be the difference in the game.
He brings an element to Duke’s offense that is hard to contain. He is a rare near seven footer with extreme 3-point range. Couple that with Mason Plumlee banging down low, and you have a National Championship title.
Duke wins this game 81-76 and Mike Krzyzewski adds another ring to the collection.
Anything can happen in a tournament this wide open and there will be upsets along the way. When is all said and done though, look for a powerhouse to win it all.