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The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is the single greatest postseason event and it’s not close. There is no shortage of storylines to write or talk about.
They’re dedications to those who are no longer here to players overcoming long odds just to be here and of course, the upsets. Let’s not forget everyone’s personal favorite, a cinderella team, the one that captures the heart and emotion of the entire country.
Here is a breakdown of each region.
The favorite in the East is the Duke Blue Devils. They are fresh off an impressive ACC tournament title. The bad news is big man, Javin DeLaurier’s injury will stretch an already thin depth chart. The good news is “Coach K” still has Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, Cameron Reddish and Tre Jones to carry the team.
The best first round game will be the Louisville Cardinals against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Both teams are classic Jekyl and Hyde. The team that shows more Jekyl will win.
The team on upset alert is the Maryland Terrapins. They will face the Belmont Bruins, who will spread out the Terrapins and attack them with Dylan Windler, Kevin McClain and Grayson Murphy. Big man Nick Muszynski gives them a post presence.
The dark horse of the region is the Liberty Flames. Their defense, tempo control and shot making ability makes them capable of winning a couple games.
The East Region final will be the Michigan State Spartans vs. the Blue Devils. Duke will prove too much for Michigan State and move on in a close one.
The favorite in the West is the Gonzaga Bulldogs. They should be ultra motivated after losing in the West Coast Conference final. Solid guard play from Josh Perkins and Zach Norvell Jr. along with talented big man Brandon Clarke and a star in Rui Hachimura gives them a recipe to win it all. The X-factor for them will be forward Killian Tillie, who could give them another versatile weapon.
The best first round game is between the Nevada Wolfpack and Florida Gators. This will come down to Nevada’s offense against Florida’s defense. Whichever unit wins the war will win the game.
The team on upset alert is the Marquette Golden Eagles. They face a hot Murray State Racer team with electrifying guard Ja Morant. But the Racers are much more than a one-man show with Leroy Buchanan, Tevin Brown and Darnell Cowart as major contributors.
The dark horse in the region is Murray State. When you have a talent like Morant, anything is possible.
The West Region final will be the Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. the Bulldogs. Gonzaga advances with a superior offensive display.
The favorite in the Midwest is the North Carolina Tarheels. They have a mix of veterans like Luke Maye and Cameron Johnson to go along with youthful talent in Coby White and Nassir Little. Guard Kenny Williams could be the key because he can knock down shots and he’s their defensive stopper.
The best first round game features the Utah State Aggies and the Washington Huskies. This will be a game of pace, Utah State wants it slow and Washington prefers it fast. Whichever team gets their pace wins.
The team on upset alert is the Wofford Terriers. They face the Seton Hall Pirates, who are an under appreciated team. Guard Myles Powell is tough to guard and has help from Myles Cale, Quincy McKnight, Michael Nzei and Sandro Mamukelashvili.
The dark horse in the region is the Iowa State Cyclones. They have the players capable of taking them to the Final Four.
The Midwest Region final will be the Tarheels vs. the Kentucky Wildcats. Kentucky keeps playing because their frontcourt will be the difference.
The favorite in the South is the Virginia Cavaliers. With last year’s historic first round loss in the back of their mind, they look to erase that memory. The same key players are back with Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, Jack Salt and Mamadi Diakite. But this team now has NBA lottery prospect, De’Andre Hunter, back. He missed last year’s game because of injury. He will make a world of difference.
The best first round game is the Villanova Wildcats taking on the St. Mary’s Gaels. This will be Villanova’s perimeter attack against St. Mary’s post game. A classic inside vs outside chess match with the winner forcing their will on the other.
The team on upset alert is the Kansas State Wildcats, who will play without key player Dean Wade. They face the UC Irvine Anteaters. No one jumps out at you but their sum of the total is greater than the individual parts. They are a great defensive team as well.
The dark horse in the region is the Oregon Ducks. They put it all together late in the season and won the PAC 12 tournament. They have the pieces and chemistry to win a couple games.
The South Region final will be the Cavaliers vs. the Tennessee Volunteers. Tennessee moves on with toughness and timely baskets.
The Bulldogs take on the Blue Devils in a rematch from earlier in the season. The Bulldogs won that game and are poised to win again.
The Volunteers will okay the Wildcats as SEC foes face off for the fourth time. The Volunteers won the last meeting but the Wildcats avenge that loss.
The Kentucky Wildcats and Gonzaga Bulldogs battle it out for the national title. The Wildcats depth up front proves too much along with making threes and they cut down the nets.