March Madness Predictions

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March Madness Predictions

Black and White picks for the Sweet 16 to the championship. Graphic by Charlotte Alden.

Black and White picks for the Sweet 16 to the championship. Graphic by Charlotte Alden.

Black and White picks for the Sweet 16 to the championship. Graphic by Charlotte Alden.

Black and White picks for the Sweet 16 to the championship. Graphic by Charlotte Alden.

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With March Madness starting tomorrow, it’s anybody’s guess as to who is going to make a run in the Big Dance and cut down the net to the tune of One Shining Moment. Here are our predictions for who’s making it to the Final Four, how their matchups are going to go, and who comes out on top in the end.

South Region Champion: Arizona

While Arizona has had a couple issues with consistency in the regular season, several of these issues were resolved by their performance in the Pac-12 performance and, most importantly, a monstrous recent performance by power forward Deandre Ayton. The 7’ 1” freshman has looked unstoppable in recent times, and in tournaments like this, dominant players are going to carry teams on playoff runs like the one Arizona is going to make this year. The program is currently embroiled in scandal as Arizona Coach Sean Miller allegedly made a $100,000 payment to secure Ayton’s recruitment, ESPN reported, but that won’t stop them from beating the nation’s top seed in Virginia to reach the Final Four.

West Region Champion: UNC

UNC is one of those teams that always seems like they can’t be beat in the tournament. In their history UNC has made 20 Final Fours, more than any other school. Roy Williams has shown he is one of the best coaches in the entire NCAA, and he creates units that thrive in the playoffs; they beat Gonzaga last year to hoist the trophy and lost on a prayer three to Villanova the year before. Despite a relative lack of talent besides guard Joel Berry II, the Tar Heels just know how to win.

East Champion: Villanova

Villanova has been on incredibly strong set of seasons behind them, and come into this tournament as a favorite to take the title once again. With guard Jalen Brunson, the Big East’s Player of the Year, and a 4–0 record against top 25 teams, the Wildcats have proved they can beat high-performing teams, and that’s all that really matters when March Madness is concerned.

Midwest Champion: Duke

Just like UNC, the Blue Devils always are a reliable playoff favorite, but this year they have an incredible group of talent that is going to show up come playoff time. With power forward Marvin Bagley III and forward Wendell Carter Jr. being potential NBA lottery picks and guard Grayson Allen still looking strong, the Blue Devils are going to be a huge challenge to beat for even the hottest lineups.

Final Four

South vs. West

2 UNC over 4 Arizona

Despite what their 27-7 record shows, Arizona has only played one team ranked in the top 25 this year, when they lost to 11th ranked Purdue by a staggering 25 points in November. Though UNC only has a 6-5 record against top 25 teams, their tough schedule has given them the experience needed to know how to counter a player like Ayton. Including the fact that Arizona averages 3 fewer points per game than UNC does, UNC’s defense has been dominant all season. As the saying goes, “defense wins championships.” Expect UNC to pull this one out.

Midwest vs. East

1 Villanova over 2 Duke

Audiences will expect a close finish in this game, but Duke will collapse after a strong first half. Duke showed their late-game vulnerability early in the season to such unranked teams as Virginia Tech, Boston College and NC State. Duke lost to Virginia Tech by only one after going to the locker room at halftime with a six point lead. In San Antonio, Villanova will start out the second half hot and take a lead from which Duke won’t return.

Championship Game

1 Villanova over 2 UNC

In a rematch of the 2016 NCAA Championship game, expect top seeded Villanova to take down UNC in a last-second thriller similar to that of Kris Jenkins’ buzzer beater two years ago. Villanova averaged nearly 90 points per game, while UNC struggles to break 80 points in their own games. Though UNC’s defense is impressive, they will be overwhelmed by Villanova’s high scoring offense, and the Wildcats will cut down the net for third time in their history.

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