Selection Sunday occurred last week for the fielding of the 68 teams that are in March Madness, and the teams that have made it seem like they are ready to go deep into the tournament. Split into four brackets, we’ll review the key teams in each bracket, and an upset to look out for.
The first bracket is the South Region, whose top 3 teams to look out for are the 3 of the top 4 seeds, 1 seed Alabama, 2 seed Arizona, and 4 seed Virginia. All four of these teams have been in the top 5 and 10 in the rankings during the regular season, so they are no pushovers. Alabama has been dominant this year, with their whole team being athletic and lengthy. Arizona was the second-best team in their conference, behind only UCLA, another 2 seed in the tournament, who they also lost to in the Pac-12 championship. The final team is Virginia, known for having one the best defenses in the country, and they have the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in Reece Beekman. The loss of forward Ben Vander Plas due to injury hurt, but they proved that he will not stop them from contending by being the runner-up in the ACC championship. My possible upset in this region is probably Baylor losing to Creighton in the second round, as Baylor is not a scoring team and they are undersized, and with Creighton’s star center Ryan Kalkbrenner dominating the paint, I can see them coming out on top.
The second bracket is the East region, whose top 3 teams to look out for are the top 3 seeds, 1 seed Purdue, 2 seed Marquette, and 3 seed Kansas State. Purdue has been a top team in all of college basketball the whole year, with the front-runner for NCAA Player of the Year Zach Edey leading them to a Big 10 Championship. Marquette has been a great team this year also, led by star guard Tyler Kolek, who also won their conference championship in the Big East. Finally, Kansas State has been the best they have been in years, with two players averaging a combined 35 points a game. The upset I can see in this region is Oral Roberts beating Duke in the first round. While Duke is a big team, they are relatively inexperienced and were not that good most of the year. Oral Roberts is also a great shooting team, and are better at field goal and three-point shooting than Duke.
The third bracket is the Midwest region, where the top 3 teams are number 1 seed Houston, the 3 seed Xavier, and the 5 seed Miami. Houston has been another dominant team this year, with only three losses to their name during the season. Their defense is known as one of the best in college basketball, and their transition offense off that defense is also great. Xavier is also a great team overall, and has proved even with the loss of their star forward Zach Freemantle, they went 6-3 in their last 9 regular season games. Finally, Miami was the top team in the ACC this year, being the regular season champions and played great in the ACC tournament and lost to Duke, who went on to win the tournament. The upset to look for in this region is Pittsburgh over Iowa State. Pittsburgh was a good team in the ACC this year, and they have a better three-point game and a much better transition game than Iowa State.
The final bracket is the West Region, whose top 3 teams look to be the number 1 seed Kansas, number 2 seed UCLA, and number 4 seed UConn. Kansas has been one of the top 5 teams in basketball this year, and they were champions of the tournament last year, and look to go for a rare back-to-back championship run. UCLA is also having a stellar season, as they won their conference championship and look to go deep into the tournament. Finally, UConn is a great team overall, who showed their dominance and abilities early in the season when they went undefeated for their first 14 games. The upset in this region looks to be Grand Canyon over Gonzaga. Grand Canyon is practically even in every stat with Gonzaga, but they are much better in defense, allowing 8 points less than Gonzaga, which could make or break a game.
Overall, these are my predictions, and March Madness is known for its insanity, hence the name. With that being said, stay tuned for the tournament and watch the madness unfold.