Tuesday, March 14, 2017

NCAA March Madness

The time of year is finally here for the ultimate college basketball experience March Madness. The first weekend filled with nonstop action from 12 pm to 12 am featuring upsets, cinderella stories, buzzer beaters, great escapes, and new found stars. The only real snub from the field was Syracuse, but they are also a 14 loss team so it's not that big of a snub. Below are the breakdown of the regions:

East Region

  • Top 2 seeds advance to the Elite 8 (Villanova, Duke)
  • 13 beating a 4 with ETSU over Florida
  • 12 beating a 5 with UNCW over UVA

Two upsets with the rest playing out about the way the rankings are other than Duke getting to the Final Four. Duke is on a role right now and appears to be the team that was preseason number one before all the injuries, Grayson Allen situation, and Coach K absence from the team due to back surgery. Duke freshman Jayson Tatum and sophomore Luke Kennard have stepped up big for them. Villanova with a Player of the Year candidate Josh Hart, only 3 losses on the year, and coming off the National Championship could be in for another long run.

Midwest Region

  • 1 and 3 seeds advancing to the Elite 8 (Kansas, Oregon) 
  • 11 beating a 6 with URI over Creighton 
  • Oregon beatingLouisville in a 2-3 matchup
Only one major upset in this bracket with the rest playing out pretty much as the rankings suggest. Kansas are the best 1 seed with the backcourt of Frank Mason III and Devonte' Graham. Kansas has their own stud freshman Josh Jackson who has continued to grow and get better. Oregon has a proven shot-maker in Dillon Brooks which will lead the team into the Elite 8.

West Region

  • 1 and 2 seeds advancing to the Elite 8 (Gonzaga, Arizona)
  • 11 beating a 6 with Xavier over MD

Only one upset in this region with no real surprises ending in a 1 versus 2 matchup. Gonzaga has been the best team all year with only 1 loss on the year.  They are extremely balanced and might be the best team in the Mark Few era at Gonzaga.  Arizona has the best young center prospect in college basketball Lauri Markkanen. With guards Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Allonzo Trier they are built to compete against any type of team.

South Region

  • 1 and 3 seeds advancing to the Elite 8 (UNC, UCLA)
  • 12 beating a 5 with MidTenn over Minn
  • 12 beating a 4 with MidTenn over Butler
  • 10 beating a 7 with WichSt over Dayton
  • UCLA beating UK in a 2-3 matchup

This is by far the toughest part of the bracket with powerhouse teams North Carolina, Kentucky, and UCLA. North Carlina is built on bigs, but have good players everywhere including Justin Jackson, Joel Berry II, Kennedy Meeks, and Isaiah Hicks. Kentucky has three-star freshmen which include De'Aaron Fox, Bam Adebayo, and Malik Monk. Monk is a streaky scorer who can go hot and cold at any time but when he gets hot the teams in this region should start to worry. UCLA has the potential number 1 overall pick in the draft Lonzo Ball, who has this slow paced game to him with excellent vision. UCLA has a nice combination of players who fit together well on the offensive end which includes Thomas Welsh, Bryce Alford, Isaac Hamilton, and Aaron Holiday at the core of the team. In the end, I have UCLA going through both Kentucky and UNC to get to the Final Four.

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