Robert Bailey ’21
Posted on Thursday, March 29th, 2019
The 81th Annual NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, known as “March Madness,” has reached its third round known as. “The Sweet 16.”
This year the clear cut favorite to win is the Duke Blue Devils with their star players Cam Reddish, RJ Barrett and the most popular prospect of this year’s NBA draft, Zion Williamson.
I have predicted Duke to win it all in my $1,000,000 bracket. But, I don’t just want them to win because they are favored so heavily.
Duke (very luckily) made it to the Sweet 16 after a controversial one point win against the University of Central Florida (UCF). In the last minute of the game when UCF was still winning there were some very questionable calls in favor of Duke–leaving fans skeptical.
Locally, The University of Michigan and Michigan State University are both the second seeded team in their respective regions and will be going to the Sweet 16.
Many say that Michigan State should have been a number one seeded team because there are already three first seed teams in the tournament from the same conference. Now, since they aren’t a first seed team, they will have to play the powerhouse Duke if they beat Louisiana State University (LSU) and make it to the “Elite Eight.”
A big part of March Madness is the $1,000,000 bracket I referred to. If a person can predict the winner of all 67 games, ESPN will give them $1,000,000. No one has ever even come close though, and the closest bracket ever only made it to the second round. But, this year–for the first time ever–there is one perfect bracket left going into the sweet 16. This just might be the year we see a 100% perfect bracket.
A big reason that no one has ever predicted a perfect bracket is because of the lower ranked teams beating higher ranked teams, in other words creating an upset.
For example, last year for the first time ever a first seeded team lost to a 16th seeded team when Virginia lost to the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC). These “Cinderella Stories” are, in my opinion, one of the most exciting parts of March Madness.
Last year, the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers as an 11th seeded team, went all the way to the Final Four for the first time in the the school’s history. The Ramblers were unfortunately not in the tournament this year after their historic run.
This year’s Cinderella team is Oregon, a school known mostly for its elite football program. Ranked as a 12th seed they beat the fifth seeded team Wisconsin and 13th seed the University of California Irvine. They are predicted to lose against first seed team Virginia in the Sweet 16. But, you never know; they have momentum and could keep on dancing.
My prediction for the Final Four is all of the number one seeds: Duke, Gonzaga, Virginia and the University of North Carolina (UNC). I see Duke beating Virginia Tech and Michigan State. I think Gonzaga will beat Florida State and Michigan, and Virginia is almost certainly going to end Oregon’s dance and beat Purdue in the next round. The UNC Tar Heels are going to beat Auburn and Kentucky in my book.
If these are the correct predictions, I think that Duke vs. Gonzaga will be one of the best games of this year’s tournament and Duke will prevail. Virginia and UNC could go either way, but I am leaning towards the Tar Heels coming out on top.
So, that puts Duke and UNC in the championship game. We have seen this matchup twice already this season, and Duke won once and UNC won once. However, when UNC won, that was the game Zion Williamson got injured. I think that UNC still has a chance to win. But, I also think that Zion and RJ will be the last ones dancing.
This is the biggest college basketball event of the year, so it’s a good chance for prospects looking to go to the NBA to prove themselves to scouts before the draft. Performances in March Madness can greatly raise or lower a player’s draft stock.
Being one of the last chances players have to prove that they deserve to play in the NBA,
March Madness is an exciting time for players and spectators alike–and millions are looking forward to it.