May. 13, 2016
Breakdown and Prediction: Men's March Madness 2017
It's the most wonderful time of the year! March Madness has come back and by looking at the 2017 bracket and thinking about the season it is hard to give a strong and definite answer of who has the strongest chance of winning. However, I'm going to break down how I think each round will go and who I think will win the NCAA title.
Round of 64
It's no question that the #1 seeds Villanova, Kansas, North Carolina, and Gonzaga will have an easy time winning in the first round. Other topped ranked teams like Duke, UCLA, Arizona, Kentucky, and Oregon will also breeze through their first game of the tournament. However, expect there to be some upsets. It seems that in most recent years the #12 seed beats the #5 seed and the #11 seed beats #6. The last time a #12 seed didn't pull off an upset was in 2015, but even years prior to that it was always the underdog teams coming with a surprising win. Last year #15 Middle Tennessee beat #2 Michigan State in a 90-81 victory. #14 Stephen F. Austin earned a 70-56 win over #3 West Virginia.
Round of 32
This is where things might get a little tricky because although I have personally picked top ranked teams to advance to the Sweet Sixteen from this round of 32, I know there will be some surprises. In the East, I have Villanova, Virginina Tech, UVA, Florida, USC, Baylor, Marquette, and Duke. In the Midwest, Kansas, Miami, Iowa State, Purdue, Creighton, Oregon, Michigan, and Louisville. In the South, I chose UNC, Seton Hall, Minnesota, Butler, Kansas State, UCLA, Kenucky, and Dayton. Finally, in the West, I have Gonzaga, Northwestern, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Maryland, FSU, Saint Mary's, and Arizona.
Getting through the first two rounds is just the warm up in the tournament if you are a top-ranked team. The Sweet Sixteen is where the fun really begins. In the East region, I have picked Villanova, UVA, Baylor, and Duke. In the Midwest, I have chosen Kansas, Iowa State, Oregon, and Michigan. In the South, it's UNC, Butler, UCLA, and Kentucky. And finally, in the West, I have picked Gonzaga, West Virginia, Maryland, and Arizona. I understand that the underdog teams in this round usually put on a good show and are capable of stunning the world with beating a top-ranked team, but this is how I see it going in the tournament.
UCLA will get far, but not far enough. I predict that Lonzo Ball and UCLA will make it to the Elite 8 before falling to the North Carolina Tar Heels in a close scoring game. I don't see Villanova beating Duke in the Elite 8 despite the rocky season Grayson Allen has had with tripping players and Coach K missing part of the season for surgery. I think because of Gonzaga's strength and wall of a team, Arizona will fall short.
Duke, Kansas, UNC, and Gonzaga, in my opinion, will all advance to the Final Four. However, choosing Gonzaga was a tough team for me to pick over Arizona in the Elite 8. UNC will have to execute a strong offense to get through Gonzaga's wall of a defense, while Duke is going to attack defensively on Kansas' scoring offense to get to the championship.
UNC vs. Duke is the ultimate rivalry in college basketball, having met 245 times total with UNC leading the series over Duke 135-110. After making my bracket and looking at the overall season, I choose Tar Heels to beat the Blue Devils in a 88-82 victory.