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Connor’s March Madness Predictions

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Connor’s March Madness Predictions

The No. 1 seeded Kansas Jayhawks look to make a deep run in the tournament.

The No. 1 seeded Kansas Jayhawks look to make a deep run in the tournament.

Phil Roeder via Flickr

The No. 1 seeded Kansas Jayhawks look to make a deep run in the tournament.

Phil Roeder via Flickr

Phil Roeder via Flickr

The No. 1 seeded Kansas Jayhawks look to make a deep run in the tournament.

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With Radford, St. Bonaventure, Texas Southern, and Syracuse winning their play-in games and eking their way into the tournament, the NCAA Tournament bracket is set in stone.  There is always much to be said about the tournament. It is the time of the year where one cannot find a television screen without seeing Seth Greenberg or Jay Bilas. The “bracket experts” have weighed in more than the viewers could have asked for, and lots of them are picking the high seeds like Villanova and Virginia as their champions. I have researched and discussed possibilities of the tournament with some on-campus “experts” over the past few weeks, and I have put together what I think the tournament will look like this year.

Of course there are always dominant number-one seeds, but this year more than others, the top seeds are very strong. I would highly recommend to not go to crazy on the upsets when it comes to Virginia, Xavier, Villanova, and Kansas.

I did, however, pick some first-round upsets. I see a No. 10 seed Texas team with Shaka Smart in the front seat coming out on top against 7th-seeded Nevada. Smart proved his coaching ability in 2011, when his underrated 11-seeded VCU team made a deep run, beating No. 1 seed Kansas and making it all the way to the Final Four.

My next upset comes from the Missouri vs. FSU game where Michael Porter Jr., a top prospect coming into the 2017-2018 season makes his comeback from a season where he sat out from injury.  Though hard to call No. 8 Missouri beating No. 9 FSU an “upset”, a majority of brackets have Florida State coming out on top.  However, I see Porter Jr. carrying his team to a win.

I also predict a few upsets later in the rounds. Though the No. 1 seeds this year are absolute powerhouses, I have No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 4 Arizona in the championship. Michigan State’s presence both in the paint and beyond the arc creates trouble for defenses all around the country. The dynamic duo of Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr., two likely future NBA lottery picks, looks to dominate this tournament.  Michigan also has an easier road ahead than some other teams, with the No. 1 seed in their region, Kansas, losing big-man Udoka Azubuike late in the season and the No. 2 seed in their region, Duke, playing inconsistently over the course of the year.

Arizona, simply put, has Deandre Ayton in their arsenal. Though the Wildcats have some solid supporting players in place, Ayton is a man among boys in the paint.  The 7’1” center, and likely number-one pick in the NBA draft, is coming off of a season with a 20 point and 11 rebound average per game. I don’t see any other team in the tournament being able to guard him.  Despite the allegations of their players being paid illegally, I have Arizona winning it all in the end.  Their superb backcourt mixed with the superior presence of Ayton in the paint creates a troubling sight for all teams to face in this year’s March Madness tournament.

Sources: CBS Sports, ESPN, CNN, New York Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Freep, The Kansas City Star, Bleacher Report, Tucson, Uproxx, AZ Desert Swarm

Photo Source: Flickr

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