The week where college basketball fans around the country call in sick to work is finally here. Many college students will boycott classes and homework as one of the biggest events of the athletic calendar will take center stage in their lives.
Whether it’s current USC coach Andy Enfield leading Florida Gulf Coast’s version of Lob City into the sweet sixteen or current Portland Trailblazer CJ McCollum leading his Lehigh team past traditional power house Duke in the first round, March madness never fails to produce stories that captivate the hearts of its fans.
When March Madness comes around, the first question that pops into many people’s heads is “Who will win it all?” There are around ten teams who many experts will pick to be crowned the champion.
There is very little separation between those ten teams. Last week, I gave you guys my Final four teams in Michigan State, Xavier, Virginia and Villanova. There are reasons to believe why each of these teams have a shot to cut down the nets at the end of the tournament.
But there is one team who I believe has the most upside going into the tournament.
Villanova is my pick to win the championship. Guard play always wins in March. In order to advance deep in the tournament, teams must have good guard play.
As I mentioned in last week’s edition, Villanova has a back court that is among the best in college basketball, led by Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges.
Donte DiVincenzo and Phil Booth also are double digit scores that add depth to an already stacked back court. Plug these four players in with solid front court players Omari Spellman and Eric Paschall, you have a recipe for success.
Villanova is a well-coached group. Head coach Jay Wright who is about to complete his 17th year at the school is one of the best in the business. He has made the tournament 12 times with two final four appearances and one national championship.
Coach Wright knows what it takes to get to the final four and win. He has been around the game and around college basketball for a long time. He is one of the reasons why I believe Villanova will be hoisting a trophy at the end of the season.
Villanova’s roster is an experienced group. This team returns six players that played on last year’s NCAA tourney team.
Brunson and Bridges were both key contributors on the Villanova team that won the national championship. Brunson has played in fourteen post season games.
Bridges also has played a bunch of games in March. Getting that type of experience especially from two of your leaders is invaluable.
Villanova will use the disappointment of last year’s second round upset loss to Wisconsin as motivation. Many people suggest that Brunson and Bridges are leaving for the NBA draft this upcoming July.
Playing for Villanova means something to the players that come through the program. Players who play for Villanova care deeply about the legacy they are leaving.
Expect last year’s disappointment to cause this Villanova team to play with a chip on their shoulder in quest for their second title in three years.
The Wildcats are among the nation’s most explosive offenses, and they have proved themselves with eight wins over top 32 ranked teams, including two wins agianst Xavier. Who better to take on Virginia’s defense?
It is no secret that Villanova can score, but how good is their defense? To answer your question, not very good. Villanova ranks 145th in scoring defense, giving up around 71 points per game. Villanova also struggles rebounding the ball.
They rank at a below average 7th in the Big East averaging nearly 35 rebounds per game. If they get matched up late in the tournament with a team that is capable of stopping them such a Virginia or a team that is capable of dominating them on the glass such as Michigan State or Duke, Villanova could be in trouble.
Although this team does have shortcomings, I believe that this teams has all the making of a national championship team. How will it all pan out? We will figure out in a few weeks.