This college basketball season has been full of upsets and crazy finishes. With changes all year among the top teams in the rankings, it’s hard to tell if there is a true number one in college basketball.
It all leads to one final tournament in March where 68 teams go for it all. It can only be described with one word.
Here’s my guide through the 2016 NCAA tournament bracket.
Number one seed: Kansas
My Final four participant: Kansas
Dark Horse: UConn
Summary: Kansas has the most talent in this region by far, but it does have some tricky matchups. UConn was a team on the bubble playing average, and then does what it always does in March. Wins. UConn won the American Athletic Conference tournament for its automatic bid and a nine seed. They could cause trouble if they get by Kansas, but I think they will come up short. Miami is a team that still might be underrated at a three seed, who I think will get past the two seed Villanova. I have Kansas and Miami meeting in the Elite Eight, but Kansas winning that game and advancing to the Final Four.
Number One Seed: Oregon
My Final Four Participant: Oklahoma
Dark Horse: Texas
Summary: Oregon got its first number one seed in school history. The question for many is, did they deserve it? Michigan State is a team many think should be on top of this region after winning the Big Ten tournament and finishing No. 2 in the Associated Press poll. Regardless, it is the Ducks, but I don’t think they make it past the Sweet 16 where they run into Baylor who is ninth in the country in steals and shooting 46.7 percent from the field which is good for 20th in the country. This will lead to a great Elite Eight matchup between Baylor and Oklahoma. I think the Bears will give the Sooners a fight, but the player of the year candidate Buddy Hield, who averages 25 points per game, and the rest of his team, are too much to handle as I see them making a trip to Houston. Texas is a team that upset highly ranked teams around the country all season, if they can beat a team or two on an off night they could make a very deep run through this region as well.
Number One Seed: North Carolina
My Final Four Participant: Kentucky
Dark Horse: Michigan
Summary: This isn’t the first time that the Tarheels have been in this situation. UNC is a basketball team that has grown and gotten so much better as the season has gone on. However, when the Sweet 16 comes around, Kentucky should be there waiting for them. The Wildcats are a very young team that grew a lot by the time the regular season came to an end, and rallied to win the SEC tournament. I think Tyler Ulis understands how to be a floor general and gets them past UNC where I have them meeting with West Virginia, that is if they can get past Michigan. Yes, Michigan is a play-in game team, but they have been playing with fire and are loaded with confidence right now. If the 38.4 percent three point shooting, good for 13th in the country, is on point, they can beat anybody. Not to mention Michigan’s Head Coach John Beilein coached there before coming to U of M. However, West Virginia should have no problem making it to the Elite Eight, but Kentucky will be too much offensively to handle and advance to the Final Four.
Number One Seed: Virginia
My Final Four Participant: Michigan State
Dark Horse: Gonzaga
Summary: I mentioned MSU in the West region because many believe the selection committee giving them a two seed in the Midwest region compared to a one seed over Oregon was “disrespectful.” In reality if you’re a Spartan fan, you should be thanking them. They should have no problem running this region. Virginia hasn’t been a problem for MSU in recent years, and I don’t see them having that problem this time around. This is the weakest region of the four, and it’s also where I find my biggest Cinderella story with the 11th seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs making a run to the Sweet 16. Utah played in an overrated Pac-12 and could easily be upset. The Zags journey should end when they run into the Spartans, where MSU will have a rematch set versus Purdue. I think the Boilermakers bigs in AJ Hammons, Travis Swanagin, and it’s outside shooter Vince Edwards who shoots 43 percent from 3-point range, can get past Virginia, but lose in a heartbreaker to MSU. Tom Izzo should be heading to the Final Four yet again.
Match-up: Michigan State vs. Kentucky
Summary: Two coaches that are highly respected, Tom Izzo and John Calipari, will battle it out head to head to play for a championship. These two teams link up to be a good game, but I see one major difference in this game: Seniority. MSU is led by who many think will be the player of the year in college basketball, Denzel Valentine. Matt Costello, Brendan Forbes, and Valentine have been here before and I see them being too much for a younger Kentucky team to handle. MSU will advance to the championship.
Match-up: Kansas vs. Oklahoma
Summary: All season these two teams have gone at it. Perry Ellis and Buddy Hield. Need I say more? This is set to be a great game. Kansas won both games in the regular season, one of those wins coming in triple overtime where Buddy Hield scored 46 points. I don’t think the result changes here as Kansas is too much for Hield and the Sooners to handle. The Jayhawks advance to play in the championship.
National Championship Game
Match-Up: MSU vs. Kansas
Ah yes, finally a rematch. From the beginning of the season you could’ve guessed these two would be meeting in the championship after the game earlier in the season where MSU won 79-73. It was a hard fought game on both ends of the floor by both teams. MSU hit more shots down the stretch than Kansas giving them the slim six-point victory. This time I think it changes. I see Kansas stunning the Spartans on a late game run and winning the NCAA tournament.
The first round of game play begin begin at noon today, March 17. The games will be televised on truTV, CBS, TNT, and TBS.