After a down year for basketball in Wisconsin, the streets will be unusually quiet in Madison this March, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the most exciting month for college sports all year. The selections committee released the field of 64 — or 68 including play in games — Sunday.
With so many decisions, there are bound to be some who feel slighted and others experiencing relief upon the release of the tournament seeding. While many pundits will claim you should listen to their insider experience to win your March Madness pool, with so many teams from completely different parts of the country coming together for a single elimination tournament, the results are often a crapshoot at best.
That being said, let’s go through how to get a perfect bracket in this year’s tournament since I know exactly what I’m talking about and break the bracket down region by region.
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This group is arguably the most difficult of the four in the tournament. They have the No. 1 overall seed, Virginia, as well as this year’s SEC powerhouses Kentucky and Tennessee. Throw Cincinnati and Arizona into the mix and it seems the NCAA rewarded Virginia for their stellar regular season with a murderer’s row of opponents in the tournament. With potential No. 1 pick DeAndre Ayton leading the charge, Arizona takes the South region.
The West is not as powerful as the South with a weak No. 1 seed in Xavier and a UNC team that has struggled at times this year as the two seed. But Michael Porter, Jr., the projected No.1 overall pick in the NBA Draft just a year ago, will play for Missouri in the tournament after missing nearly the entire year to a back injury. This makes the Tigers much more dangerous than the typical eight seed in the tournament.
Also, No. 4 seed Ohio State could be the strongest team out of the Big Ten this year, as Keita Bates Diop exploded onto the scene this season becoming a finalist for the John R. Wooden Player of the Year Award. Vegas also has No. 3 seed Michigan with the fourth-best odds to take home the whole thing after winning the Big Ten Tournament, but after seeing Rutgers make a serious run in that tournament, don’t hop on the Wolverine bandwagon too quickly.
Overall, there simply isn’t enough in the region to take down the blue chip UNC team as they will return to the Final Four for the third straight time after winning it all last year.
The Midwest has some formidable competition in No. 1 Kansas who recently took home the Big 12 Championship on the back of star player DeVonte’ Graham. The No. 3 seed is Michigan State, who struggled mightily against Big Ten competition at the end of the year despite eking out close wins in most of these games.
It’s tough to root against No. 2 Duke in this region though. Or as a Badger fan, maybe it isn’t.
Despite being a two-seed Duke can compete with any team roster wise. One of the strongest coaches in Division I basketball history Mike Krzyzewski leads one of the best prospects to ever come out of Duke, Marvin Bagley III, as well as senior Grayson Allen, one of his most consistent — albeit controversial — players in recent Duke history.
One of the better regions in this tournament, the East boasts No. 1 seed Villanova as well as No. 2 Purdue. Purdue also struggled late in the year versus the Big Ten as when their outside shot isn’t falling the team is weak aside from their center Isaac Haas. There are also a few other teams that have performed well against top competition like Florida and Texas Tech. Though they had a disappointing year, Alabama boasts top prospect Colin Sexton as a nine seed as well.
Villanova and Mikal Bridges’ dominance in the Big East Tournament show the Wildcats should be the favorites out of their division.
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Who will win it all?
Though not a conventional favorite to take home the hardware, Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton and veteran shooter Allonzo Trier will bring home Arizona’s second National Championship this April.
Aside from Ayton’s dominance on the inside this year, he and the team are playing with a chip on their shoulder. Amid allegations of NCAA violations, the Wildcats have only played stronger, dominating their competition in the Pac-12 Tournament with Ayton racking up an incredible 32 points and 18 rebounds in the championship game.
Don’t miss any of the action as the tournament begins March 15, with games streaming all day on CBS, TBS and Tru TV.