NCAA March Madness preview and predictions

It’s that time of the year again, when 68 college teams try to conquer the March Madness tournament. The first round consists of 8 different teams qualifying to enter. Once that’s over, all 64 teams are placed in a division ranked one through sixteen. The divisions/sections are called: Midwest, West, South and East. The 16 teams in each section battle it out to get to the final four. The best team in the South plays the best team in the East, and the same goes for the Midwest and West.

The selection day for the 68 teams is Sunday, March 12th. The first four (8 qualifying teams) games play on Tuesday and Wednesday, the 14th and 15th. The official 64 team bracket starts Thursday, March 16th, and goes to the second round on Saturday, the 18th. The first and second rounds both last 2 days. The 2 day format also applies to the Sweet Sixteen (3rd round) and the Elite Eight (4th round). The Final Four round is Saturday, April 1st, and the championship game is Monday, April 3rd.  

This year’s top teams include: Kansas, UCLA, Gonzaga, and last year’s winner Villanova. Kansas is currently ranked number 1 in the top 25. They have beaten 5 teams in the top 10. Kansas is carried by senior point guard Frank Mason the Third, and freshman superstar Josh Jackson. They for sure will get a number one seed in the bracket. UCLA will be a major threat with freshman point guard Lonzo Ball. He’s one of the most athletic guards in the NCAA this year. He’s also accompanied by TJ Leaf and senior Bryce Alford. These 3 players combined average 47.7 points a game. Their team altogether averages an NCAA best 91.3 points per game. They are more than likely to receive a number one seed.

Gonzaga looked to be a real threat after starting 29-0, but they lost to BYU by 8 points, and that loss sent them from ranked number one to four. Their biggest problem is that they don’t play in a good enough conference, which might prove why they had such a good record until they played BYU. They finished 32-1 and won the West Coast Conference Championship. Their team is led by junior guard Nigel William-Goss, who averages 16.9 points per game and 5.7 assists per game. They are more than likely to lose early in the tournament. They would be lucky to receive a number one seed, as the number two seed fits them better.

One last team that’s being talked about, coming into the tournament, is the reigning champs, Villanova. They defeated North Carolina in the championship last year after Kris Jenkins hit a buzzer beater three for the win. He’s now in his senior year and playing well, but the star player for Villanova is senior guard Josh Hart who leads the team in points per game with 18.7 and with 6.5 rebounds per game. Villanova has a great chance of winning the tournament in back-to-back years. They will have a number one seed.  

My one sleeper team is SMU. They are ranked 12th with a 27-4 record. They haven’t played many ranked teams, and their free throw shooting is only at 69%, but they have won 13 straight games. They have also won 23 of their last 24 games, only losing by 2 points to 22-ranked Cincinnati. Senior Ben Moore has been a lot of help for SMU; he has 11.8 points per game and standing at 6 feet 8 inches, he grabs 8.2 rebounds per game. SMU could go deeper than people may expect as they’re likely to be a 4 or 5 seed in the South section of the tournament.

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