The Madness in March is underway. Those that call college basketball boring will now experience a change of heart as dreams will come true and hearts will break. March creates some of the greatest memories for sports fans all over the world. What does this year’s tournament have in store? No one knows, because what cannot be seen can’t be predicted.
Here are the eight teams that have the best chance at walking away with the national championship.
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8. Michigan Wolverines
The Wolverines are streaking as of late. They lost their Big Ten tournament title game against the Michigan State Spartans, but that should not alarm fans. Nik Stauskas, Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton Jr. are capable of carrying this squad to their second straight National Championship Game appearance. Glenn Robinson III has been on fire as of late and the idea of Mitch McGary possibly rejoining–probably wishful thinking at this point–this already stacked squad makes them a potential powerhouse heading into their Thursday matchup against the Wofford Terriers. One question mark surrounding the Wolverines is if they can conjure up enough defense to control the tempo of the game. The good news: if everything goes according to plan, the Wolverines should have an easy path until the Sweet Sixteen, where they could potentially run into Duke.
7. Iowa State Cyclones
The Cyclones are an offensive powerhouse. Iowa State ranks sixth in the nation in points per game. On the other hand, their defense might be an issue in the later stages of the tournament. Make no mistake about it… Melvin Ejim, DeAndre Kane, Georges Niang and Dustin Hogue will come ready to play. Favorable matchups against UNC or Providence should have Cyclones’ fans in high spirits, but I think their run ends if they meet Michigan State in the Elite 8.
6. Wichita State Shockers
The Shockers are the No. 1 seed in the toughest region. This is good for them, though, as it will give them their first real test of the season. In the round of 32, they will either face Kentucky or Kansas State, both tough draws. It does not stop there… if they survive the round of 32, a date with the Louisville Cardinals most likely awaits Wichita State.
5. Kansas Jayhawks
This all rides on Joel Embiid‘s return. Pure talent is enough to get Bill Self‘s club past Eastern Kentucky, but if New Mexico defeats Stanford, Kansas could be in trouble. Without Embiid, Lobos’ center Alex Kirk could be primed and ready for a big game. Expect New Mexico to play with a chip on their shoulder; they want to make up for that embarrassing loss to the Harvard Crimson in last year’s tournament. But if fully healthy, nothing can stop Kansas from making the Final Four.
4. Louisville Cardinals
At a first glance, fans might wonder why Louisville is seeded at No. 4. This is an unfair seed, but it is favorable. If everything falls as it should, the Cardinals need to beat Manhattan, Saint Louis and Wichita State to make it to the Elite 8. With the way Russ Smith is playing right now, this does not seem like an irrational string of events.
3. Arizona Wildcats
Sean Miller has built a defensive juggernaut in Tucson. Going 30-4 and posting historical defensive numbers has the Wildcats as the No. 1 seed in a region where they should have little trouble. But a potential round of 32 matchup with Oklahoma State has some fans chasing Warren Buffett’s $1 billion reward for a perfect bracket a little worried. If they beat Oklahoma State or Gonzaga, their biggest obstacles are Creighton, San Diego State and Wisconsin.
2. Florida Gators
The Gators were awarded the No. 1 overall seed. They have not lost since November, and they capitalized on a fantastic season with a one-point victory over the Kentucky Wildcats in the SEC Championship. They have talent at multiple positions and a veteran savvy that should carry them far in the tournament.
1. Michigan State Spartans
Tom Izzo‘s squad battled through injuries, but when they finally became healthy, they went on a run. The Spartans bullied through Wisconsin and Michigan to win the Big Ten Tournament championship. They are better than the higher seeds in their region, including Virginia, Villanova and Iowa State. This is Michigan State’s tournament to lose.
Are there any others teams that could surprise everyone and win it all?
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