March Madness is finally here!!!! God it feels good writing that sentence. College Basketball fans have been waiting for this day all year long. Whether your like me and watch religiously since November, or you start watching in January, after the College Football season (which is cool too), Wingspan Sports has got your back with thoughts, predictions and more.
Okay so the bracket was released Sunday afternoon. And here it is, if you haven’t seen it yet.
(credit SB Nation for the photo and the bracket)
Okay, I’m just going to say it. I HATE the bracket. I never been a big fan of the committee in the first place, but boy, did the butcher this one.
It’s not like they left any teams out that deserve to get it. You can say Illinois State and Syracuse should’ve got in and I wouldn’t argue with you, but the 68 teams that got in to the dance I have no problem with.
Its the seeding that bothers me. And it bothers me a lot.
Wisconsin an 8 seed?!?! Minnesota a 5 seed?!?! Wichita State a 10 seed?!?! Does the committee actually watch the games or do they just pick what logo they like the best? Wisconsin finished 2nd in the big ten, had 25 wins, beat Minnesota TWICE, yet Minnesota gets 3 seeds higher than Wisconsin. How?!?!
The Committee always seems to find a way to screw something up. The seeding was it. And they butchered it. But we got what we got and now we have to deal with it. So lets dive into this bracket a little more.
North Carolina: UNC should have a cake walk to the elite eight. There is no reason why UNC should not blow out every team they play on the way to the elite 8. I mean its March and anything can happen, but UNC should get to the elite 8 just fine. The first 2 matchups should be a breeze and whether they play Minnesota or Butler, they should run over those teams too. Now when they get to the elite 8 it’ll be tougher. They’ll have to play Kentucky or UCLA. But those 2 teams are going to have to battle each other tooth and nail just to play UNC. UNC will be more fresh and should advance to the Final 4 anbd take advantage of the fatigue of UK or UCLA.
Gonzaga/Arizona: Well this is you west region elite 8. No two ways around it. Both these teams should breeze right to the elite 8. Both of them are playing at an extremely high level and both should see each other in the San Jose for the Elite 8. The one threat Gonzaga could face is West Virginia in the sweet 16, as they are a trendy pick to make the elite 8/ final four but I don’t see it. Arizona really should just fly to the elite 8. And if we get a Arizona/Gonzaga matchup, it’s a rematch from the regular season in which Gonzaga won. I think Arizona wins this time around and advances to the final four but this is a tough one. I can easily see either one of them winning that game.
So I have North Carolina winning the South bracket, I have Arizona winning the West bracket. What about the other two? Don’t worry, I got you covered.
East Region: This is where the tournament intensifies. This region is great. The one seed, defending champion, Villanova is one of the hottest teams in the country. They have a player of the year candidate Josh Hart, and after only losing 2 seniors from the Championship team last year, this team knows how to win. But does that mean they’ll advance to the final four? It’s tough to say. Duke is playing at an extraordinarily high level and the preseason number one seed, who was belittled by injuries the entire year, is fully healthy and playing so well. Duke, who just won the ACC Tournament and winning 4 games in 4 days, is a trendy pick for the final 4. Grayson Allen is a monster come march, Jayson Tatum is a beast and Luke Kennard is playing the best basketball of his career. But SMU is the sleeper in this region. The Mustangs are one of the most underrated teams in the country, posting a 30-4 record. Can SMU make it to Phoenix for the Final 4? Why not? They shoot the 3 point ball so efficient and they’re a good free throw shooting team. This is a hard pick but the team I pick to win this region and go to the final 4….
Villanova. Nova has proven last year and this year that they know how to win. They’ll get past Virginia in the Sweet 16, pretty easily, and i think they’ll play SMU or Duke in the Elite 8. I honestly think it’ll be SMU. But Nova gets past them and they pack their bags as they travel to Phoenix for the Final Four.
Midwest Region: I’m a die -hard Kansas Jayhawks fan so stay with me on this one. This Kansas team scares me. They’ve played in so many close games this year, basically all of them in which they won, but they’re not blowing out a lot of teams and its a concern. They lack depth, with playing only 7 guys every game. But here is the thing. This team can win it all or lose early. They have Frank Mason lll (National Player of the year front runner), Josh Jackson (top 3 NBA draft pick in this upcoming draft), etc. The 7 guys they send out there every game can compete with any team in the country, and they can be the best team in the nation. With that said, they have a tough road to the final 4. Assuming they’re not the first 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed in the tournament history, they’ll have to play Michigan State or Miami. That’s a tough game. And if they get past that? Just Iowa State (who Kansas went 1-1 against this year) or Purdue who won the Big Ten. And then if they win that? Oregon or Louisville for the right to the Final 4. Honestly, any team can win this region. Even number 10 seed Oklahoma State can go to the final 4. And number 7 seed, Michigan, who is RED hot, is a trendy pick. I see Kansas playing Oregon for the right to the final 4. Every year i’m biased and pick Kansas to go to the final 4, and they don’t, so lets say Oregon wins. I don’t want to jinx it. Leave me alone.
Final 4 Predictions:
Villanova over Arizona
North Carolina over Oregon
Rematch of last year’s championship?
Why not. Let’s get weird.
It’s March and both Nova and UNC have the teams to do it and a fair path to get to the final 4. This is my prediction on Monday. Ask me again after Monday and this will probably change. Shoot me a tweet, @joeryan1621, or on Facebook, Joe Ryan, if you have any question regarding the madness.
Make sure you also follow on @Wingspansports on twitter for Bobby and Mike’s predictions.