Sports Column: March Madness Predictions

Com teams win at NRB contests
March 9, 2018
Refugees prove hope is a human need
March 9, 2018

Sports Column: March Madness Predictions

There have been boring Super Bowls, boring NBA Finals, boring World Series and boring college football playoffs. But I have never witnessed to my knowledge a boring March Madness.

March Madness has given us everything a sports fan could ever ask for: major upsets, blue blood matchups and Cinderella stories.

With the tournament looming just over three weeks away, many basketball fans are excited to see how this year’s tournament will play out. Here are the teams that I believe will reach the Final Four.

Villanova—This tournament is won by teams with great guard play, and Villanova certainly has great guard play. Nova also leads the country in scoring at just over 87 points a game. Their backcourt is headed by two Wooden Award candidates in former 5 star recruit Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges.

Their other backcourt stalwart Donte Divencenzo would be the go to guy in the backcourt for many other teams. But this highly skilled guard has been forced to play third fiddle due to the excellence of Brunson and Bridges.

If this backcourt plays to the level we have seen them play all year, Villanova may claim its second championship in three years

Virginia—This team has a history of not doing as well as they should. This year is different.  They are playing great defense as usual, holding teams to just over 52 points a game. But this year, more than one guy is hitting clutch shots. A couple of years ago, the only real shot maker they had was Malcolm Brogdon.

Last year it was London Perentes. Before those two, it was Justin Anderson.

This year Ty Jerome, Kyle Guy and Devon Hall are all playing at a high level offensively, giving them their most well-rounded offense since the beginning of the Tony Bennett era.

These three also do a good job of protecting the basketball as Virginia has the lowest turnover total in the country.

Combine these three with the experienced front court of Jack Salt and Dominique Wilkins, Virginia is set to make its first Final Four appearance of the Tony Bennett era.

Michigan State—Led by sophomore guard Miles Bridges, Michigan State looks poised to make a run deep in the tournament.

With five guys averaging double figures, Michigan State has as balanced an offense as there is in the country. They rank third in field goal percentage (51.3%) and third in three point percentage (42.1).

The team also leads the country in blocks with nearly 7.6 per game. Their defense is good, but not great, giving up nearly 65 points a game. However their offensive efficiency should be good enough to carry them to the final four.

Xavier—Led by All American Trevon Bluiett, Xavier has put together one of its best seasons. As with my other top three teams, Xavier has three quality guards in its lineup: seniors Bluiett, J.P. Macura and sophomore Quentin Goodin.

Xavier has also gotten good production from its front court led by Kareem Kanter. Xavier is averaging 85 points a game and is making around 49 percent of their field goals.

They do a great job of not surrendering offensive rebounds as they are ranked twelfth in the country in offensive rebounding. Xavier is also a team that could be motivated by past failure.

After their blowout victory against Florida State in the Sweet Sixteen last year, they underperformed in the Elite Eight last year against Gonzaga.

Look for Xavier to be motivated by the failure and to advance deep in the tournament.