March is officially here. I know it's March 15, but as far as I'm concerned, March doesn't really start until the NCAA Tournament gets underway. This time of year, positivity reigns. Fans of every school rally behind their team, willing them on to March Madness success. It's time to sit back and watch your team win the title. Here's how they are going to do it:
Led by a fantastic returning core from last year's title winning team, the Wildcats managed to get the number one overall seed in the tournament. 'Nova dominated the Big East Conference and tournament play and they are back to repeat in March. No team in the country can match the experienced trio of Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, and Kris Jenkins. Pay attention people, Jay Wright's team is going back-to-back.
Kansas is Kansas; a perennial title contender. I could stop there, but I won't. There is just too much talent on this roster for the Jayhawks not to win the championship. Kansas has the best backcourt in the nation with Frank Mason and Devonte' Graham. Add future top 5 pick Josh Jackson to the mix and Bill Self is going to win his second NCAA Championship.
There is no team in the tournament as well rounded as UNC. They earned their number one seed by playing wonderful, consistent basketball in the nation's most difficult conference. The Tar Heels are inundated with experienced upperclassmen: Joel Berry, Josh Jackson, Theo Pinston, Kennedy Meeks, and Isaiah Hicks. This squad is a perfect group of players to go all the way.
This is Mark Few's year. It's his year, not only to make the Final Four, but to win the National Championship. This is his best, most well rounded roster to date. No top team could stop the potent combination of Nigel Williams-Goss and Przemek Karnowski in the regular season. Why should we expect anything different now?
Don't bet against Mike Krzyzewski. Like, ever. Take Coach K, then add in Luke Kennard and Jason Tatum, who are playing the best basketball of their young careers. It's hard enough to try to stop one of them, but how on earth are you going to stop both? Oh, then there's Amile Jefferson, Frank Jackson, Grayson Allen, Matt Jones, and Harry Giles. How's that for talent. Duke fans might as well order their "2017 NCAA Champions" t-shirts now.
All I have is two words for you: Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell is the best pure scorer in all of college basketball. No team will be able to slow him down in this tournament. In addition to Mitchell, the Cardinals have a score of giants on their squad. Size plus a top scoring threat? I smell champions.
Can you say "stacked"? De'Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Isaiah Briscoe, Bam Adebayo, Derrick Willis, etc... There's no way that a group of players this talented won't come out on top. They are too smart, physical, and athletic to be bested by any team in this tournament. SEC Champions to NCAA Champions? It's nothing new for John Calipari.
A team that played more than half of their season with out their best player and still managed to win their conference's regular and post season titles? Sounds like a winner to me. The Wildcats have one of the deepest rotations in college basketball, consistently running a nine man rotation, complete with 2 seven footers. Depth plus size plus fantastic guard play equals a championship team.
Scott Drew and his team spent several weeks as the number one team in the AP Poll and yet the Bears are still criminally underrated. Their one-two punch of big man Johnathan Motley and point guard Manu Lecomte will clearly be too much for any team in the East region, and later the Final Four to handle.
All the media can talk about when discussing Oregon is Chris Boucher, their injured big man who is out for the season. "How can Oregon win without Christ Boucher? The Ducks are doomed!". The Ducks will certainly miss him, but instead of shutting down, they'll be re-energized, inspired by Boucher. Even without him, Oregon is still one of the best offensive teams in the country. Book it now. Dillon Brooks and Co. will be the 2017 National Champions.
After completely missing the NCAA Tournament last season, Steve Alford's team is out for blood. How do you win championships? On offense. UCLA finished their season as the highest scoring offensive team in all of college basketball. Led by the nation's best point guard Lonzo Ball and the country's best big man pair, T.J. Leaf and Thomas Welsh, the Bruins have the perfect recipe to go all the way.
This might just be the most talented FSU team of all time. The Seminoles had a hugely successful ACC season and are clearly moving towards a title run. Future NBA stars Jonathan Isaac and Dwayne Bacon were electric in conference play and they'll continue to thrive in the NCAA Tournament, leading Florida State to the title.
This Florida team is electric. Earlier in the season, they smashed Kentucky, making them look like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off. Expect more of the same in this tournament. The Gators are back in March for the first time in three years and they are going to make the most of their experience on their way to the championship.
Purdue dominated the Big 10 this season, winning the regular season title. Led by the best big man in the nation, Caleb Swanigan, the Boilermakers will have a massive advantage over any team they come up against. Will any team be able to stop Swanigan and Purdue? It's not likely.
When it comes time for March Madness, there is one thing people should know by now. Never bet against Butler. Bulter beat number one overall seed Villanova in both of their two meetings this season, cementing them as one of the top teams in college basketball. The Bulldogs have made the NCAA Tournament nine of the last eleven season, making it to the championship game twice. There is no way that happens again this season. They aren't just going to make the championship game; they are going to win it.
Isn't this where people usually launch into a paragraph about "Press Virginia"? I suppose I'll follow suit. There is simply no way to prepare for the intensity of West Virginia's press; they come at you fast and hard every play with full court pressure and aggressive movements to the ball. People think that this team is just a gimmick, a product of the system. The Mountaineers aren't just a sideshow. They are the show. Watch out college basketball, West Virginia is marching to Glendale.
Published by Joseph Lowery