March Madness Preview

Elizabeth Clark, Writer

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It’s the middle of March, meaning that there are a few more weeks before April vacation, and college basketball is at its peak. For the lucky 68 teams and their fans, the next few weeks will be crucial. Even if your team did not make the tournament, there is a likelihood that you are participating in some sort of bracket challenge. In order to have a successful bracket, you must pick a few upsets and a few safe picks, but no bracket is ever 100% correct.

The 1 Seeds:

Duke: Sports Illustrated has Duke as most likely to win the tournament this year, and I have to disagree. Despite their 41 tournament appearances, they only have 5 victories, meaning that they often crack under the pressure, even though they arguably have the best coach in the nation and powerhouse Zion Williamson. In the regular season, they faced losses to Gonzaga, and Virginia Tech. To win the tournament, they would have to at least beat Virginia Tech, and this would definitely be a challenge.

Virginia: Virginia basketball is in its peak, and could be a safe pick to win the tournament. They finished towards the top of the ACC Atlantic Coast division, with a stellar overall record of 29-3. De’Andre Hunter, Kyle Guy, and Ty Jerome are an incredibly strong trio offensive and defensively, and Bennett’s coaching will be able to bring them to at least the Final Four.

North Carolina: The third team from the powerhouse ACC, North Carolina finished tied with Virginia for first in the Atlantic Coast division with an overall record of 27-6. Texas, Duke, Michigan, and Kentucky are among these losses, and they will have to face some of these teams once more if they want to make it to the finals. Out of their past 48 tournament appearances, they have an amazing win-loss record of 123-45.  They were national champions in 2017, and if they want it enough, they could do it again.

Gonzaga: Early in the season, Gonzaga beat Duke, and I believe that they can bring that same energy to propel them into the finals. Gonzaga is my pick to take the crown, due to their amazing regular season this year. They are 1st in the West Coast, with an amazing overall record of 30-3. They have a very balanced roster, being lead by Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke.

Upsets:

  • Kansas vs Northeastern: Northeastern is the 13 seed, while Kansas is a 4 seed, but I believe that Northeastern will win. They have a higher PPG and a better record in their (weaker) conference. Northeastern also are coming off of a huge winning streak (they won the CAA tournament), while Kansas is coming off of a loss to Iowa State in the Big 12 tournament. In past tournaments, Kansas has made it to the regional final and lost, and in 2015 they lost in just the second round. Historically, Northeastern has had 8 tournament appearances, but this is their first one since 1987, giving them something to fight for this year.
  • LSU vs Yale: Yale, the small Ivy League school will likely take this game, as LSU is dealing with many mid-season challenges, including a suspended coach. In their most recent 2015 tournament appearance, LSU lost in the first round, and they do not have much recent experience besides that. In 2016, Yale made it to the second round of the tournament and lost to Duke. Even though they are the lower seed, they have more recent tournament experience than LSU, which will become crucial. Yale is coming off of being the frontrunner in the Ivy League, with other wins from Cal and Miami. Yale is lead by Miye Oni and Alex Copeland as well as Massachusetts native Azar Swain, while LSU is lead by Tremont Waters and Naz Reid. The matchups between these players will be amazing to watch.

Other teams to watch out for: Villanova, Houston, Washington, Texas Tech, Buffalo

Games start Thursday and Friday. Brackets through ESPN tournament challenge will close on Thursday, so make your picks!

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