When in doubt, pick a blue blood.
The days of dynasties in college basketball have long past, due greatly to the one-and-done rule. I grew up in the days when it was UCLA and everybody else, much like the NBA when the Boston Celtics seemingly won the championship every year by beating the Lakers in the finals.
It’s been 15 years since Florida was the last team to go back-to-back. You would think that Duke or Kentucky would have done it, given their rosters have been littered with McDonald’s All-Americans.
But now college basketball is wide open every year. Sure, there’s the usual contenders, but a lot of luck goes into running the NCAA Tournament table.
I believe there are about 8 teams that could realistically win it, provided they get hot at the right time. Just look at what the Cincinnati Bengals did this year, making it all the way to the Super Bowl even though during the season they were just a good team and not believed to be a Super Bowl finalist.
That being said, I have some familiar names in my NCAA Final Four. Here’s how the brackets shake out.
Baylor is the No. 1 seed, but key injuries have derailed the Bears at times this season. I think the grind of the Big 12 will catch up with them and I’m picking Baylor to be upset by North Carolina in the second round, which in turn will lose to UCLA.
On the other side of the bracket, what a tough draw. A team like Murray State could be the Cinderella story, but I look for a Purdue-Kentucky semifinal.
In the finals, I like Kentucky to knock off UCLA in a matchup of programs that have been legendary in the past, but have somewhat flown under the radar this season.
I see only 3 teams from this regional with a legit chance to win.
Gonzaga is the No. 1 seed and it wants to make up for losing in last year’s finals to Baylor when the Bears simply grinded the Zags into the ground with their defense.
There’s a great matchup in the Sweet 16 with Duke going up against Texas Tech. Don’t fall asleep on the Red Raiders, they play some of the best defense in the country.
But I like Duke winning that game.
Gonzaga should cruise through the top half of the bracket to make the Elite Eight.
But given this is Coach K’s swan song, the Blue Devils will keep the season going and knock off the No. 1 seed.
One of the weaker brackets.
Perennial disappointment Arizona is the No. 1 seed and it’s going to have to survive pesky Houston in the Sweet 16. Houston made a nice run last year and could do it again.
The bottom of the bracket is soft. I’m going with Ohio State to go up against Arizona in the finals, but the Wildcats will move on despite their checkered history of being a high seed.
This seemingly is set up for a KU run.
But who will be the team that springs the upset on the Jayhawks, who haven’t won a national title since 2008?
That team this year is going to be Iowa. The Hawkeyes are a popular darkhorse pick to make a deep run despite being a No. 5 seed.
The bottom draw also is wide open, with Auburn probably emerging to meet Iowa in the finals.
I really thought about going with Iowa, but I’m playing it safe with Auburn.
It’s college basketball royalty in the East-West matchup with Duke and Kentucky. Again, the Dukies are destined and this might be the best game of the tournament.
Arizona and Auburn will be played above the rim. I’m going with Arizona, as the one game I watched the Wildcats they were outrageously athletic.
Coach K cuts down the nets in his final game.