Article by Christian Pierce
They’ve been through signing day, summer conditioning, early morning workouts, late nights with homework, stress, winning streaks, losing streaks, blood, sweat, and tears.
This is what every NCAA Basketball team works so hard for… March Madness 2018 is officially upon us!
Final Four Picks:
The Xavier Musketeers are going to represent Ohio well this year in the big dance. X is currently 14-3 in the the Big East and 24-3 overall! Xavier is probably the best team in Ohio. Their offense has been magnificent led by Trevon Bluiett, J.P. Macura, Kerem Kanter, Sean O’Mara, Quentin Goodin, and more. They rank eighth in points per game in Division One. Offense is their strength. If Bluiett keeps playing well and the rest of the team keeps playing well Xavier will make a run. X is not as strong on the defensive end but they step up their game when necessary. Keep an eye on the Musketeers in March Madness.
The Virginia Cavaliers could quite possibly take it all. They finished 16-1 in the ACC conference and finished 27-2 overall. This team has a lot of players involved in each game but they are led by Kyle Guy, Devon Hall, Ty Jerome, and Isaiah Wilkins. This team seems to have a lot of depth. Along with that, this team plays suburb defense allowing only 52.6 points per game– first in the NCAA. This team is not as good on offense but steps it up when necessary. This team is likely to go deep in the tournament.
The Duke Blue Devils have lost more games than they usually do. They have lost six games to be exact. Duke is a team that I started to count out, but they are legit. They score 85.1 points per game (6th in the NCAA) and allow 69.5 points points per game to opponents (100th in the NCAA). Duke has now transferred to a zone defense which makes them better. Duke is led by their big man Marvin Bagley III who shoots 60.7 percent, Grayson Allen who shoots 43 percent, and Wendell Carter Jr. who shoots 56.4 percent, along with a solid bench. Duke has had their struggles this year but if they keep playing the way they have been lately, they will not be stopped. Right now I don’t know of anyone who could guard the 6 foot 11 Marvin Bagley III. This team is very strong, powerful and loaded with talent.
The Villanova Wildcats are also loaded with talent. Villanova finished the season 30-4 overall and 14-4 in the Big East Conference. They score 87.1 points per game ranking first in the NCAA and their opponents score 70.0 points per game ranking 139th in the NCAA. This Wildcat team is loaded starting with Jalen Brunson who could win an award. Nova is also lead by Mikal Bridges. This Nova team can be hot when shooting the three ball. When it is on they are hard to stop. They won their conference tournament which is a tough task in the Big East. Nova has the the ability to go to the Final Four in San Antonio.
Michigan Wolverines: This Michigan team does not rank high in points per game or 3 pt percentage but let me tell you this team can shoot the lights out. If the Wolverines keep playing how they have been recently this team could make a deep run in the big dance. This tournament is wide open. Keep an eye on this team.
Cincinnati Bearcats: This Cincinnati team plays stellar defense. If their offense can catch fire and they play like the team they have been all year, the Bearcats could make a deep tournament run.
Loyola-Chicago Ramblers: This Ramblers team can shoot very well. If they catch fire and shoot like they have all year this team could surprise lots of people. If shots fall, Loyola-Chicago could be your next cinderella story.
Murray State Racers: This team has won 13 games in a row. This Racers team plays superb defense. Their opponents shoot only 30.6 percent from three. If their star senior guard does his thing and the Racers keep playing stellar defense look for this team to turn some heads.
Davidson Wildcats: This Wildcat team can knock down the three ball. They have beat two solid teams in their conference tournament: St.Bonaventure and Rhode Island. By defeating these two teams in their conference tournament, and winning their conference championship, Davison arrived at the big dance. Both of the teams they beat are tournament teams. Davidson has drawn some attention in the past. Don’t sleep on them.
Houston Cougars: Houston has some really good talent. They finished the season ranked 21st in the nation. The Cougars also came close to beating Cincinnati in the AAC championship. Lead by their star guard and other talented shooters on their team, Houston has a chance to make a deep run in this tournament. The Cougars could very well turn some heads in the big dance.
North Carolina State: This team has had some big wins this year including Duke, Arizona, and North Carolina. The ACC is a tough conference which gives the this team a taste of the postseason. NC State has a big history of upsets in March Madness. They have had some struggles this year and have weaknesses just like any other team in this tournament. This team really could surprise some people. Watch them closely.
Exciting Matchups and potential upsets
The South Region
Creighton (8) Vs Kansas State (9)
The eight and nine seed games are always a thriller to watch. Creighton and Kansas State have both had their highs and lows this season, beating great teams and losing to great teams. These teams have proven they have the talent to beat good teams. Now, can Creighton or Kansas State come away with a win against a team that is a mirror image of themselves? Creighton definitely can.
Matchup: Miami (6) Vs Loyola-Chicago (11)
This is game should be a good one. Miami has been a competitive team all year in the ACC. Loyola Chicago has the best three point and shooting percentage in the nation. With these two simple statements this game can live up to the March Madness intensity. In this one Loyola-Chicago will drain some threes and come away with the victory.
The West Region
Ohio State (5) Vs South Dakota State (12)
Both of these teams have had good seasons. This South Dakota is a team hungry for a tournament win. Ohio State is young and has been cold lately. They just lost for the third time this season to Penn State in their conference tournament. This matchup could go down to the wire. It will be close, but Ohio State will pull away in this one and get the win in this matchup.
Missouri (8) Vs Florida State (9)
Florida State has been cold lately but plays in the ACC–one of the toughest conferences in basketball. Missouri just got their star player back Michael Porter Jr. back and they are adjusting their team. This should be a good matchup. I think Porter Jr. will surprise some people and have a good game after just returning from his injury just last week. I’ve got Missouri.
The East Region:
Florida (6) Vs UCLA (11)
Florida was a pretty competitive team and has been pretty good all year in the SEC. They just lost to a good Arkansas team, but only by eight. UCLA has had it struggles in the PAC 12, but not too long ago took down Arizona. UCLA and Florida both have a great tournament history. This matchup should be a fun one to watch. In this matchup I’ve got UCLA.
West Virginia (5) Vs Murray State (12)
West Virginia has had some bright spots winning big games this year but they’ve lost some big games, too. This team still has some good players and plays pretty good defense and has that press everyone knows as ¨Press Virginia.” Murray State also has some star players and a good defense can they pull it off? This is going to be a defensive battle. Murray State is going to upset the Mountaineers in a game that will go down to the wire.
Seton Hall (8) Vs North Carolina State (9)
Both of these team have a history of making March Madness upsets. Seton Hall does not have many upsets in the tough Big East Conference. North Carolina State has upsets in the tough ACC, including Duke, Arizona, and North Carolina. Just because Seton Hall doesn’t have as many upsets doesn’t mean it won’t be a good game. With these team’s tournament history, I would definitely tune in. North Carolina State is the better team in this one.
Texas Christian (6) Vs Arizona State (11)
TCU is a team that has come close in several games and so has Arizona State. It is a simple as that, both of these teams have potential to beat good teams. Keep an eye on this matchup.
This will be a good game but I’ve got Texas Christian.