Cameron Kemp ‘18: After a competitive and tough regular season, the NCAA tournament field has been chosen. Headlined by number one seeds Virginia, Villanova, Kansas, and Xavier. The two local teams, Michigan and Michigan State, were rewarded a number three seed. MSU plays their first two games in Detroit, Michigan. Michigan will head out to Wichita, Kansas
East Region: This region consists of a Villanova team with a record of 30-4, a dominating team for many years, winning the national championship in 2016. While they lost many players from the 2016 team, they have two National Player of the Year candidates in point guard Jalen Brunson and forward Mikal Bridges. The Purdue Boilermakers came up with the two seed after a season with a 28-6 record and finishing third in the Big Ten. Led by their monster center Isaac Haas, and Player of the Year candidate Carsen Edwards. The most dangerous sleeper in the East are the Texas Tech Raiders, with a record of 24-9 and second place finishers in the Big 12 the Raiders will be looking to shock everyone and take down favorites Villanova and Purdue.
Midwest Region: The Midwest region is going to be extremely competitive due to blueblood schools. Kansas who is the one seed, Duke the two, and Michigan State the three. Kansas has disappointed and been upset many times in the tournament but they’re looking to turn that around this year with seniors Devonte Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk. The two seeded Duke Blue Devils led by star freshman Marvin Bagley III, the controversial senior Grayson Allen, and coached by the legendary Mike Krzyzewski look poised to wreak havoc and rise up to their highest potential. The favorites for many to win it all and to win this region are the Michigan State Spartans. Tom Izzo has led seven final fours runs in his career looks to make this his eighth. With star forwards Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr. leading the way and Cassius Winston running the point guard, the Spartans have confidence they can beat anyone. Picked by many, the number twelve seed, New Mexico State, winners of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and the favorites to upset five seeded Clemson are bound to destroy some brackets.
Justin McNulty ’20: South Region: This year’s South region is home to college basketball’s number one overall seed, the Virginia Cavaliers of the Atlantic Coastal Conference. Virginia rounded out the regular season with an impressive 31-2 record and has a boatload of momentum coming off an ACC tournament championship. The Bearcats of Cincinnati, earned the two seed in the South, after winning the American Athletic Conference outright and were able to defend their title in the conference championship. This region seems jammed packed with conference champions. The PAC-12 champion Arizona earned a four seed, while the SEC tournament champion Kentucky sits at a five seed in the South. Speaking of Arizona, Freshman phenom, DeAndre Ayton, should be a player to watch for as many scouts consider him the number one pick in next years NBA Draft. Many experts are predicting Virginia, to rely on their stout defense as well their playmaking guard, Kyle Guy, to allow them to cruise right to San Antonio and find themselves playing in the Final Four. An intriguing team to look out for would be the six seeded Miami Hurricanes. Miami, once a top ten ranked team this season, finished inside the top 25 and at times has shown flashes of potential throughout the regular season.
West Region: Xavier comes into March earning the fourth and final number one seed. They finished the season at 28-5 and put on a show this year in the Big East Conference. The defending National Champions, North Carolina, comes in at the two seed in the West region and look to defend their title. The Tar Heels are led by Senior guard Joel Berry II, along with two stellar members of the front court, Theo Pinson and Luke Maye. Michigan, fresh off back to back BIG 10 tournament championships, gets included in the West region as a three seed. Michigan currently rides a nine game win streak into March, making them one of the hottest teams in the country. Led by star wingman, Moritz Wagner, the Wolverines are able to spread out the floor and live and die on the three point shot. The Gonzaga Bulldogs were rewarded the four seed in this region, and look to return to the final four after being defeated in the National Championship game last season. Also, keep an eye out for the number ten seeded Providence Friars, the only team in America to defeat at least two of the four numbers one seeded teams. Providence handled both Villanova and Xavier this season, and are coming off an impressive finals run in the BIG East tournament.
This year’s NCAA tournament officially kicks off Tuesday and Wednesday night with a handful of teams competing for the last four spots into March Madness. Then, the round of 64 gets underway with all teams playing either Thursday or Friday this week.