College Basketball

Ten Predictions for March Madness

The most entertaining sports weekend of the year is heading our way. Sixty four teams will be whittled down to 16 in a crazy four-day rush of non-stop college basketball. While every person worth knowing has already filled out a bracket, here are ten March Madness predictions anyway. 1. At least two double-digit seeds will make the Sweet Sixteen

Last year Bradley and George Mason were the bracket busters from the 13 and 11 seeds respectively. This year, with weaker-than-usual 4-9 seeds, this should be repeated. There are many teams that have a chance to make some noise, including 13 Davidson, 11 Winthrop, 11 George Washington, and 12 Illinois. Winthrop is the consensus “next George Mason” mainly because of their first round opponent, Notre Dame, but facing Oregon in the second round would be too much for them. Davidson has a chance if they can get by 4 Maryland, and the Terps are coming off a loss to the ACC’s worst team, Miami. George Washington shouldn’t have too much trouble with weak SEC team Vanderbilt but then runs into a roadblock with third-seeded Washington State. However, a team with the best chance of making the Sweet Sixteen from a low seed is Illinois. They face a team that is on the downhill and has a similar record in Virginia Tech. That is the easiest 12-5 upset on the board, and then the Illini would face Southern Illinois, one of the nation’s most unproven teams.

2. There will be no George Mason this year

While it appears a low-seeded team will make it to the Sweet Sixteen, there is no shot of one making the Final Four. First off, the top seeds in each region are too strong for this to happen. Also, the chance of two low-seeded teams making the Final Four in back-to-back years is roughly the same chance of JJ Redick being elected President. It simply will not happen.

3. At least two top seeds will make the Final Four

I know the one-seeds always look great before the tournament starts, and then there’s an upset. The best example of this is last year when three top seeds made the Elite Eight but all lost, leaving the 2, 3, 4, and 11 seeds for the Final Four. However, this year’s top seeded teams are more dominant than usual, and each has an historically easy road to the Elite Eight, with the exception of North Carolina (more on that later). Generally the only team that knocks out a top seed in the Sweet Sixteen is a four seed, and this year’s four seeds completely suck besides Texas.

Southern Illinois, Maryland, and Virginia. Ouch. Each of those teams would be slaughtered in a possible matchup with Kansas, Florida, and Ohio State, respectively. One of those teams, most likely Maryland against Davidson or Virginia against Albany, will fall in the first round.

My Final Four will be revealed later, but I’ll tell you now it contains two top seeds, about the usual total during normal years (not last year).

4. There will be one or two 13-4 or 14-3 upsets in the first round.

Remember that Northwestern State-Iowa game last year? I think something very similar to that will happen this year. As stated earlier, Maryland and Virginia are two vulnerable teams. Two three seeds that could go early are Pittsburgh (vs. Wright State) and Washington State (vs. Oral Roberts). It seems each year there are multiple crazy upsets like these, but here’s one thing I’m confident in saying: no one or two seed will fall in the first round.

5. In the round of 32, one two-seed will fall to a seven seed.

Last year two second-seeded teams, Tennessee and Ohio State, fell victim to the ever pesky seven seed. This year, I could see that happening to two more squads: Wisconsin and Memphis. Wisconsin seems to have faded recently and stands a chance a losing to UNLV. The Runnin’ Rebels stormed through BYU in the Mountain West championship and feature some dangerous perimeter players. And in the category of absurdity, Nevada was only dealt a seven seed. They are a 28-4 team and was ranked in most polls throughout the season. They will at least put a scare in 2 Memphis, who is rolling on a 22-game winning streak but did play in a very weak conference.

6. Texas is the most dangerous team in the tournament.

As we have seen countless times in March Madness, one player can completely carry a team for a two or three game run. In this tournament, the player most capable of that is Kevin Durant of Texas. As one of the best freshman in college basketball history, Durant has the ability to beat North Carolina or Georgetown single-handedly. I wouldn’t be surprised if Texas won the national championship from the four seed. That’s how good Durant is.

7. The SEC, ACC, and Big Ten will show their weaknesses as a conference.

Behind Florida, North Carolina, Ohio State, and maybe Wisconsin, there is not a team from those conferences that I would expect to do well in the tournament. From the SEC, Arkansas shouldn’t have even gotten in, Vandy will leave in the first round, Kentucky will be ousted by Villanova, and Tennessee is way too inconsistent. ACC-wise, Duke got a six seed solely because of their reputation. Maryland, Virginia Tech, and Virginia were all seeded highly, but are all overrated. The Big Ten got six teams in, but three of them (Indiana, Purdue, and Michigan State) won’t do anything special.

8. The Elite Eight will be Florida, Oregon, Kansas, UCLA, Texas A&M, Ohio State, Georgetown, and Texas.

These teams are all seeded high; no surprises here. Each team had a great regular season, is one of the best teams from a major conference, and most will dominate their bracket up to this point. There is so little depth this year, I couldn’t feel confident picking any lower seeded team. In the Sweet Sixteen round, some of the more interesting matchups would be North Carolina-Texas, Georgetown-Washington State, and Texas A&M-Nevada.

9. The Final Four will be Florida, Kansas, Georgetown, and Texas A&M

I didn’t exactly go out on a limb with this prediction–it’s similar to what many people think–however, I think these four teams match up best within their brackets. Florida was dealt one of the easiest draws I’ve ever seen, though Oregon would be tough in the regional final. Kansas will not be challenged until the Elite Eight, with a probable matchup against UCLA. That would make an outstanding game, but Kansas is much more balanced than the Bruins and has been on a roll recently. Georgetown, after winning a murderous Big East conference, will win the toughest regional (the East). Washington State and Texas/North Carolina would be very challenging to the Hoyas, but their strong, balanced starting five will carry them. Texas A&M-Ohio State would make for a back-and-forth regional final, but star guard Acie Law IV will make the difference with his clutch play.

10. Florida will repeat as national champions.

I hate going with the obvious pick here, but there are so many reasons why the Gators are the best team in the nation this year. Their talent, shooting ability, desire, and emotional play will prove too much for any team. Last year their young team rolled through the tournament, now those players have a year under their belt and have all improved. Finally, I just don’t think Joakim Noah will be denied. The guy scares me, but since I’m a Gators fan, it’s in a good way.

While this March will be vastly different from the last one, it will end with the same result: the Gators cutting down the nets.

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