With the First Four officially over and the round of 64 set, its time to make some predictions for the NCAA tournament. I will be highlighting the game of the round of 64 to watch and giving my picks for the Final Four and who will win the championship.
Round of 64 Game to Watch
Marquette vs Murray State. Like many analysts and fans have stated, I’ve also jumped onto the bandwagon for this matchup being an electrifying one fuelled by the star of each team. Markus Howard from Marquette and Ja Morant from Murray State. Marquette look like the better team, especially on paper because of the level of competition they have faced in comparison, however, I feel like Ja Morant, as the leader of Murray State, will be what makes this game close and very intriguing. Both are amongst the top 10 in scoring across the NCAA, but Morant is number 1 in assists in the NCAA. Morant has the ‘wow’ factor with his high flying plays, but Howard has his own style of highlights fuelled by his long range shooting ability. This will definitely be a matchup that fans of college basketball would not want to miss.
Final Four Picks
East Region: Duke. I believe Duke is one of the top teams because of their stars in what has been a year with no overly dominant team. RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish when healthy, look like they can lead this team to the promised land. They will definitely have some challenges with this region, the biggest being potential matchups with Virginia Tech and Michigan State, but I think they’ll be able to power through and win out especially with how they have played since Zion has returned to the court.
South Region: Virginia. After last year’s disappointing end being the first number 1 seed to lose to a number 16 seed, I think that Virginia will be on a mission to make some noise this year. They are back to health compared to last year with De’Andre Hunter playing this time around. He has looked like one of their best offensive players which will provide good balance to a great defensive team. Tennessee will likely be the toughest matchup, but I still favour Virginia for this region.
West Region: Michigan. This region was the toughest for me to pick as I was torn between the top 3 seeds but I believe Michigan is my team of choice. Gonzaga will have their case as the 1 seed and Texas Tech will be formidable as the 3 seed, but after the run Michigan made last year to the title game, I think they still have what it takes to win out and advance to the Final Four again because of the returning players that lead the team who were there last year.
Midwest Region: North Carolina. North Carolina look to have one of the best overall offenses in the NCAA with good depth, pace and inside/outside balance. Three seniors and a blooming freshman lead the starting five for this squad and their rapport together really seemed to grow as the season progressed, especially as the freshman, Coby White, started to come on strong in conference play. Kansas and Kentucky will be very dangerous matchups for them, but I believe UNC can still matchup well with both of them and make the Final Four.
National Championship Pick
Duke. My prediction for the National Championship game will be for one of the best rivalries in sports with North Carolina facing off with Duke. In what will be the fourth matchup of the year between the two squads, it should live up to the hype if the matchup comes about like I think it will. They almost always seem to match really well with one another so it should be a hotly contested back and forth affair. However, similar to the semi-finals in the ACC Tournament, I think that Duke will slightly edge out North Carolina to win another national championship for Coach K.
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