It’s that time of year ladies and gentlemen. This is when you spend countless hours juggling threw stats, predictions and analysis.
Luckily for you guys, I’ve already spent those countless hours through the heart of winter. As I tweeted a couple of days ago, I have watched over 100 games this season from start to finish. The unfortunate part about that is some 9-year old kid who couldn’t tell you who Jabari Parker is will do better than me.
With that being said, I’m here to guide you in the right direction. I’m going to breakdown each region, reveal my final four picks, surprise team in each region and give you four players to lookout for in each region that you might not be familiar with.
This is the weakest region out of the four. Other than Arizona, the other top seeds in this region aren’t very impressive. Wisconsin is a team that struggles on the glass. They rank 261 in offensive rebounds and 129th in defensive rebounds. Then you got Creighton and San Diego State as the 3 and 4 seeds respectively. Lower seeds like Oklahoma, Baylor and Oklahoma State could cause havoc.
Surprise Team: BYU.
Key Players To Watch: Nick Johnson (Arizona), Le’Bryan Nash (Oklahoma State), Doug McDermott (Creighton) and Tyler Haws (BYU).
West Winner: Arizona Wildcats.
I’ve been saying the Florida Gators were the best team in America since December and they’ve given me zero reason to think otherwise. The Gators haven’t lost a game since December 2nd, when they were shorthanded on the road against UCONN, but that’s not even the longest span without losing in this region. The 12 seed Stephen F. Austin suffered their last defeat on November 23rd. This region isn’t as weak as the west because you have teams like Kansas, UCLA and even Syracuse, but Florida is without a doubt the favorite to head to the final four out of this bunch. Kansas could be the darkhorse because no one really knows the status of freshmen star Joel Embiid.
Surprise Team: Stephen F. Austin
Key Players To Watch: Colorado (Josh Scott), Kyle Anderson (UCLA), Alex Kirk (New Mexico) and LaQuinton Ross (Ohio State).
South Winner: Florida Gators.
This region is full of teams that are better than their seeding. North Carolina is better than a 6 and Michigan State is surely better than a 4 seed. Also, Memphis is better than a 8 seed and we could keep going. One thing for sure is that Virginia deserved the 1 seed here. They’re the ACC regular season and tournament champions after beating Duke last night. The Cavaliers are capable of making a final four run, but Michigan State will be their kryptonite in the sweet 16. Never count out a Tom Izzo coached ball club and how about a potential North Carolina-Iowa State matchup in the second round? Sign me up.
Surprise Team: UCONN.
Key Players To Watch: Mike Dixon (Memphis), Georges Niang (Iowa State), J.P. Tokoto (North Carolina) and Bryce Cotton (Providence).
East Winner: Michigan State Spartans.
Whoever comes out of this region would have definitely earned you. The fact that Kentucky is a 8 seed should say it all. Not only that, but Duke is a 3 and Louisville is a 4. Oh yeah, that (34-0) team in Wichita is the top seed in this gauntlet of a region. Everybody talks about how Wichita State hasn’t played anybody, so a potential matchup against in-state Kansas State or Kentucky in their second game would be intriguing. Despite this tough region, I’m going with the defending champs to come out of it. Louisville is playing the best basketball right now outside of Florida. The Cardinals have won five straight and three of them were against ranked opponents.
Surprise Team: NC State.
Key Players To Watch: Ron Baker (Wichita State), Marcus Foster (Kansas State), Jahii Carson (Arizona State) and Nik Stauskas (Michigan)
Midwest Region: Louisville Cardinals.
Final Four: Arizona, Florida, Michigan State and Louisville.
National Championship: Florida over Arizona.