2016 NCAA Tournament Preview

First Round--Des Moines, IA

Kansas over Austin Peay

The top seeded Jayhawks get their tournament started against Austin Peay, who come into the game with six straight wins and no chance in Iowa. The Governors may have the greatest chant “Lets Go Peay” do there won’t be long lines for the restroom as Kansas will be in control all the way and win by at least 25.

UConn over Colorado

Not many teams have had a better history over the last two decades in March that UConn, who has been known to go on late runs and win the entire tournament. They needed a strong performance in the American Conference Tournament just to get in, and when Jalen Adams’ half court prayer in triple overtime went in, they secured a bid beat Cincinnati in four overtimes and won the Conference Championship. The Huskies have a solid defense, allowing 62.2 ppg. This one looks like a win for UConn as Colorado does not match up well against their talent.

Second Round

Kansas over UConn
Kansas has had their share of second round troubles failing to reach the Sweet 16 in each of the last two tournaments as #2 seed. Just two years ago UConn was a #7 seed and parlayed a strong American Conference Tournament to a National Championship run. The Huskies are a very scary team for the Jayhawks as their strong defense will keep this game tight throughout. In the end Kansas has the experience with senior Perry Ellis making the big shots when the game is on the line.

First Round--Spokane, WA

South Dakota State over Maryland

If ever there was a game that screamed first round upset it is this one. Maryland has not played well over the last month losing four of their last six games. They were at once at the top of the polls now they hold a #4 seed and have a long trip across the nation to play in Spokane. South Dakota State has become a tournament regular, though still waiting for its first win in their third appearance in five years. The Jack Rabbits play very well within themselves and are good at control the half-court game.

California over Hawaii

With freshmen Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb leading the way, the Golden Bears have gotten stronger as the season advanced, winning seven in a row at the end of February. California could be a real dangerous team if the pair commit to staying in Berkley for the next three years. Hawaii will need a lot of things to break right if they are to win this game, as Cal just has too much talent.

Second Round

South Dakota State over California
South Dakota has everything a Cinderella needs talented guards, a good rebounder tournament experience and a solid half-court game with three senior guards leading the way. California has raw talent and has not been down this road before. The Jack Rabbits have never won a tournament game before this year and with an experienced battle tested team make it count.

First Round--Providence, RI

Wichita State over Arizona

Can Wichita State really be a Cinderella after their last four seasons? They have gone 35-1, reached a Sweet 16 and a Final Four. If not for some early season injuries they would have certainly been much higher ranked. Every year there is a live dog out of the play in game, and the Shockers are much better than their #11 seed suggests. Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker have had a great career and they will make some noise before bowing out scoring an upset over Arizona who is not as strong as they have been in recent years after losing several key players.

Miami over Buffalo

It’s hard to be anonymous in the ACC, but the Hurricanes are in fact one of the strongest teams in one of the best conferences. Miami comes in with the #3 seed but they don’t have a good history in the NCAA Tournament. This though is the year the U final has their long run, as Jim Larranga one of the best coaches in the game today finally gets his due. Buffalo will not be much of a hurdle for the Hurricanes advancing.

Second Round

Miami over Wichita State
Jim Larranga is quite familiar with Providence, as he is fifth on the Firars all-time leading scorer’s list. Wichita State may have a better tournament pedigree, but Miami has the talent and the depth with as many as four reliable scorers led by Sheldon McClellan and Angel Rodriguez and will reach the Sweet 16.

First Round--Brooklyn, NY

Temple over Iowa

After a slow start out of conference, the Temple Owls were the best team in the American Conference during the regular season. While they lost to UConn in the American Tournament semifinals the Owls are a solid tournament team with good guard play led by Queton DeCosey. Iowa on the other hand started strong winning their first seven Big Ten games, but have been bad down the stretch losing six of eight including a tournament loss to Illinois.

Villanova over UNC-Ashville

Villanova may have been in line to get a number on seed before they dropped the Big East Tournament Final to Seton Hall. After spending last week in Manhattan the Wildcats are again in the Big Apple this time at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. They should not have any problem UNC Ashville who don’t have nearly enough firepower to make this one a contest.

Second Round

Villanova over Temple
This is the game the NCAA Tournament lives for, two bitter rivals meeting in an early round game. All eyes in the City of Brotherly Love will be on Brooklyn as Temple looks to derail Villanova’s Final Four dreams. After two straight opening weekend failures, all the pressure in the world will be on Villanova. Temple will make this a close one, but in the end the experience, the talent and the defense will guide Jay Wright’s squad on to the Sweet 16.

Sweet 16

#1 Kansas, #2 Villanova, #3 Miami, #12 South Dakota State

Regional Semifinals--Louisville, KY

Kansas over South Dakota State
All eyes will be on Kanas as they face upset minded South Dakota State in the Regional Semifinals. If South Dakota State can pull a Jack Rabbit out of the hat and get the upset it will be the story of the tournament. Kansas given days to prepare of South Dakota State will quickly put the game out of reach as they cruise to the Elite Eight.

Villanova over Miami
With the brackets set up the way they are Villanova almost needs to reach the Elite Eight to erase their past tournament failures. With a record of 29-5 the Wildcats should have still gotten a #1 seed, but after losing in the round of 32 with a #1 seed it is likely that was a deciding factor to drop them to #2 line. Miami has some talent but nothing like Villanova, who has the right recipe to reach the Final Four. Outside shooting and solid defense will be the key as Villanova advances.

Regional Finals

Villanova over Kansas
No team has more to prove than Villanova who after two straight second round disappointments face as Kansas team that is the number one overall seed. Though the Jayhawks themselves have to answer for recent early round stumbles. This game should be one of the best in the entire 67 game tournament. Kansas has not lost since January 30th as they rolled through the Big XII tournament again. Villanova is just as good as Kansas but that stumble in the Big East Final cost them in seeding only. Sometimes losses like that can help and for Villanova that will be the case as the edge Kansas with Josh Hart leading the way as the Region’s Most Outstanding Player.

First Round--Spokane, WA

Oregon over Holy Cross
Somebody must have really liked Oregon in the Selection Committee as they were given a #1 seed, after winning a weak Pac-12 Conference. The Ducks do have some talent, but they are not nearly as good as other top level teams. There first game will be as easy as can be as they will face the winner of the meeting between the two worst teams in the tournament giving them a virtual bye.

Cincinnati over St. Joseph’s
No team makes you work harder for baskets than Cincinnati, who last year put up a strong fight against Kentucky before fading late. The Bearcats bring nearly the same roster to this year’s tournament and are again on the 8-9 line. St. Joseph’s will not make many mistakes, but the Bearcats will advance with their strong physical play.

Second Round

Cincinnati over Oregon
Cincinnati’s defense will continue to confound and frustrate in the second round as they face the top seeded Ducks. Before Kentucky broke the game open late, Cincinnati was giving the unbeaten Wildcats all they could handle in the round of 32. Oregon’s biggest weakness is their lack of depth, which will be tested against the physical play of Cincinnati, who will wear the Ducks down and score the upset.

First Round--Providence, RI

Baylor over Yale
Yale is making its first tournament appearance since 1962, and are coming off one of the best seasons in school history. However, as they get set to play in Providence the news of former Captain Jackie Montague’s sexual assault case is becoming a distraction. Players have expressed their support for Montague who was dismissed in February. With a cloud over Yale, the smart money is on Baylor to win this game by double figures.

UNC-Wilmington over Duke
This is not a vintage Duke team, as the reigning champions limp into the NCAA Tournament. Already losing Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow to the NBA the Blue Devils have had to struggle for every win after Amile Jefferson suffered a season-ending injury. Grayson Allen has carried Duke ever since, but their defense has been suspect as the team lacks depth. Nothing will make UNCW’s season more than to knock off the heavyweights from Durham. The Seahawks have the player they need in Chris Flemmings who is one of the top shooters in the country. Gut feeling UNC-Wilmington gets the upset.

Second Round

Baylor over UNC-Wilmington
After beating Duke, UNCW’s high will be short lived as they face a tough Baylor squad with Rico Gathers clogging the middle. If the Seahawks are to have a chance Chris Flemmings will need to channel is inner Stephen Curry and make every shot from every spot. That won’t happen and Baylor will erase the bad taste from last year’s first round collapse.

First Round--Oklahoma City, OK

Texas over Northern Iowa
No coach is better at taking a team deep in the NCAA Tournament than Shaka Smart, who once carried Virginia Commonwealth from the First Four to the Final Four. In his first year with Texas, the Longhorns are already ahead of schedule as they were not expected to be anywhere near March Madness. Northern Iowa reached the round of 32 last year, but is not nearly as strong this year. Look for Texas to give Shaka Smart another tournament victory.

Texas A&M over Green Bay
The Horizon League Tournament was chock full of upsets with Green Bay rising out of the ashes. Talent for talent they don’t match up well with many teams in the tournament. The Aggies meanwhile are everything you want in a tournament team with a pair of unselfish guards and strong big men. This game will be a walkover for A&M.

Second Round

Texas A&M over Texas
With teams changing conferences one of the most unfortunate side effects is the death of historic rivalries. When Texas A&M bolted the Big XII for the SEC, it ended the great Lone Star shootout. Texas A&M is defined by its hatred for burnt orange and vice versa. The Longhorn’s mascot got its name after adjusting the branding after a 13-0 A&M football win. Texas A&M’s fight song is nearly entirely dedicated to ripping Texas University. Texas may be on the rise, but the time is now for the Aggies and they will take pleasure in whipping up on the Burnt Orange and White.

First Round--Oklahoma City, OK

VCU over Oregon State
Shaka Start may have left, but the Virginia Commonwealth Rams remain the same frenetic team led by outstanding guard play. Melvin Johnson leads the way with his strong inside out shooting, while a pressure defense helps create fast breaks. Oregon State has name recognition with Gary Payton II, but are often a sloppy mistake prone team that is more often than not its own worst enemy. Expect Virginian Commonwealth to play on.

Oklahoma over CS-Bakersfield
This is the first ever tournament appearance for Cal State Bakersfield, too bad it will over fast as they will face overwhelming odds with the Sooners have the home crowd edge in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma has one the best teams in the entire field, led by Buddy Hield, Jordan Woodard, Ryan Spangler and Isaiah Cousins who have played 100 games together. The Sooners may be just the right team to go all the way and they start off by boat racing the Roadrunners.

Second Round

Oklahoma over VCU
The Sooners are the rare squad that has remained together in the era of one and done. The unquestioned star of Oklahoma is Buddy Hield who is the favorite to win the Wooden Award as the Division 1 Player of the year. The Sooners are a great team at long range and continue to cruise as they roll their way to the Sweet 16.

Sweet 16

#2 Oklahoma, #3 Texas A&M, #5 Baylor, #9 Cincinnati

Regional Semifinals--Anaheim, CA

Baylor over Cincinnati
With upsets being the rule on the top half of the bracket Baylor will face Cincinnati with a trip to the Elite Eight on the line. The deeper the tournament goes the more teams must rely on guard play, and for Baylor that means turning to Lester Medford. Medford’s ball handling skills are second to none, look for him to be the difference as he is able to break Cincinnati’s pressure defense to lead the Bears to the Elite Eight.

Oklahoma over Texas A&M
This may be the best game of the entire Western Regional Tournament. No doubt the winner will be considered the favorite in the Regional Finals. Last year in the regional semifinal the Sooners lost a heartbreaker to Michigan State. Not wanting to see that happen again, Oklahoma gets a strong game from Buddy Hield to reach the Elite EIight.

Regional Finals

Oklahoma over Baylor
It’s an all Big XII Final in Anaheim as Oklahoma takes on Baylor. The Sooners won both meetings in the regular season and will do so again. The Bears have a strong team, but the Sooners boast too many weapons and entering the tournament with ranked #6 in the final AP poll they have all the makings of a team that can go a long way, especially with the way they have been able to keep their core four Buddy Hield, Jordan Woodard, Ryan Spangler and Isaiah Cousins on the floor. In a year this wide open, this could be the winning formula for Oklahoma as Buddy Hield is the region’s Most Outstanding Player.

First Round--Raleigh, NC

North Carolina over Florida Gulf Coast
The Eagles coasted over Farleigh Dickinson in the play in game, and they were fairly impressive, but it will be a fairly ridiculous pick to think they can beat North Carolina. One day a #16 seed will beat a #1. It won’t be this one however, as the Tar Heels will smoke Florida Gulf Coast in Raleigh.

Providence over USC
USC is a program on the rise, as they are in the Field of 64 for the first time in seven years. In his third season in Los Angeles Andy Enfield led the Trojans to a ten game improvement this year and things look bring for the future. Providence meanwhile are now team that has had some disappointments this season, as Kris Dunn’s senior season was a bit of a letdown. That being said Dunn will have a strong game to get the Friars into the second round.

Second Round

North Carolina over Providence
North Carolina at 28-6 is the second overall seed heading into the tournament and they may not have achieved their top level of play. The Tar Heels have five players averaging double digits and sometimes even look like a professional team. Providence could throw a scare if Kris Dunn has a big game, but with the home crowd edge it is hard to see an upset.

First Round--Des Moines, IA

Chattanooga over Indiana
Early in the season Indiana looked to be in for a long season when they got rolled over in Maui by Wake Forrest and UNLV. However, the Hoosiers overachieved and won the regular season Big Ten Championship. Chattanooga meanwhile is the perfect Cinderella after dominating the Southern Conference. The Mocs are a high energy team that will quickly win over the fans as they expose Indiana’s defense and score the upset.

Kentucky over Stony Brook
After rolling through the regular season last year at 34-0, Kentucky was the big man on campus when the tournament began last season. The Wildcats are again a title contender, despite their somewhat ordinary 26-8 season. Coach John Calipari expressed anger at being given a #4 seed. That spells bad news for Stony Brook who will feel the full wrath of Kentucky. The Seawolves do have one player to watch with Jameel Warney scoring 43 points in the America East Final. Though Kentucky has multiple players with Warney’s skills that will make this game a 30 point blowout.

Second Round

Kentucky over Chattanooga
Kentucky has been to the Final Four in four of the last five years. Every year they get the top recruiting classes and are a machine despite being the refuge for one and done players. The Wildcats may not have the same headline makers this year, but doubting the can go on a long run at the user’s peril. Chattanooga could perhaps play with Kentucky for a 20-30 minutes, but in the end Kentucky will have too much talent and win the game.

First Round--Brooklyn, NY

Notre Dame over Michigan
Michigan has had its ups and downs this year as they have struggled since Caris LeVert suffered an injury at the start of the New Year. The Wolverines needed an upset of Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament just to reach the play in game. The only thing that has kept them in the tournament picture is Duncan Robinson’s ability to hit threes. Notre Dame has been steady all season and should be able to beat their one time football rival in Brooklyn with Demetrius Jackson leading the way.

West Virginia over Stephen F. Austin
Making their third straight appearance Stephen F. Austin gave Utah all they could handle but fell just short of an upset. With Brad Underwood leading the way the Lumberjacks are a threat to cut down anyone as they adept at forcing turnovers. West Virginia though knows about forcing turnovers with a full court press that makes every possession a test. Stephen F. Austin was dealt a bad hand with this one as a team capable of an upset is facing the one team that presses and causes turnovers as they do, just with actual talent.

Second Round

West Virginia over Notre Dame
Last year Norte Dame reached the Elite Eight for the first time in 36 years, before losing a hard fought game to Kentucky. The Irish would be hard pressed to repeat that run, with last year’s star Jerian Grant now in the NBA. West Virginia quietly has been one of the best teams in the country with the Mountaineers taking on Bob Huggins tough personality. Look for the Mountaineers to steal the ball the gold and reach the Sweet 16.

First Round--St. Louis, MO

Wisconsin over Pittsburgh
This is not the same Wisconsin team that reached the Final Four in the last two seasons and went to the finals last year. Not only did Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker move on to the NBA, but the Badgers were rocked in December when Coach Bo Ryan retired. In January it even looked doubtful Wisconsin would play in the tournament, but they finished strong under new Coach Greg Gard, winning 11 of their last 13 games. Look for the Badgers to continue their recent hot streak by easily beating an overrated Pittsburgh team.

Xavier over Weber State
Weber State might be the strongest #15 seed in the field, with one of the best shooting teams in the country. However, Xavier is tournament tested and talented. The Musketeers have been near the top of the rankings all season. Unless the Wildcats can somehow shoot out the lights in St. Louis, the Musketeers with six players averaging 9.5 points per game will have no problem moving on.

Second Round

Wisconsin over Xavier
Xavier has been terrific all season spending a majority of the season in the Top 5 of the rankings. Last season they made a strong run to the Sweet 16, and are even better this year. However, they have had their stumbles like a loss in Newark to Seton Hall after a win over Villanova. They also lost to the Hall in the Big East Semifinals, as they have been known to lose focus. Wisconsin with its hot streak and ability to make long runs get the upset and advance to the Sweet 16.

Sweet 16

#1 North Carolina, #3 West Virginia, #4 Kentucky, # 7 Wisconsin

Regional Semifinals--Philadelphia, PA

North Carolina over Kentucky
No two programs have a greater pedigree than North Carolina and Kentucky. When these teams get to play in the tournament, viewers need to turn their phones off and remove all distractions because it will be an exhibition of basketball excellence. Both of the teams are loaded with professional talent and capable of winning the entire tournament. Carolina though is deeper team and has the best shooters led by Brice Johnson and will get the win.

West Virginia over Wisconsin
The Mountaineers are team that is as tough and hard working as a West Virginia coal miner. They are excellent on getting second chance points while their full court press is great at force the opposing team into make the big mistake. Wisconsin seeking a third straight trip to the Final Four will see their run end in the Round of 16, as West Virginia is just too tough and physical for a younger Badger team.

Regionals Finals

North Carolina over West Virginia
West Virginia full court press will get them to the Elite Eight, but pressing teams that can jump out of the gym will often backfire. The Tar Heels can jump out of the gym. The Mountaineers have a good hardworking team, North Carolina has players that will be in the lottery and playing in the NBA this time next year. Look for Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson to turn the West Virginia press inside out to reach the Final Four. Justin Jackson will be named the East Region’s Most Outstanding Player.

First Round--Raleigh, NC

Virginia over Hampton
Are your ready for a miracle? Last year when Hampton found out they were going to face juggernaut Kentucky in the first round, Coach Ed Joyner tried to call Jesus. There were no miracles for them, but the Pirates are back and again playing a national powerhouse in #1 seed Virginia. No #16 seed has beaten #1 in the Men’s Tournament. Though the Cavaliers did once lose to Division 2 Chamanade in the Maui invitational with a #1 ranking. The Pirates do have some guard play and could if they bring their A game give Virginia a scare, but unless Virginia fails to show up against a state rival a miracle will not be found in Raleigh.

Butler over Texas Tech
Tubby Smith is back in the NCAA Tournament ending a nine year drought for Texas Tech. Both the school and the coach have had a long road in returning to the tournament as Tubby Smith is trying to redeem himself from a terrible tenure with Minnesota while the Red Raiders have been wandering the desert since Pat Knight took over for his father. Butler meanwhile is still the belle of the ball with a talented team that always makes magic happen in March. Look for the perimeter shooting of Roosevelt Jones and Kelan Martin to be the difference as the Bulldogs advance.

Second Round

Butler over Virginia
Virginia has relied all season on defense as they have been able to slow down games all season and take advantage of the skills of Malcolm Brogdon. Butler also has a strong defense and they have players that can turn any game around if their shooters are on target. The NCAA Tournament is filled with stories of games like that and with Butler finding their range early it’s an upset in ACC Country as Butler begins another Cinderella run.

First Round--Denver, CO

Purdue over Arkansas-Little Rock
Purdue is an imposing foe, with their twin seven footers A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas. The Boilermakers are strong on the boards and in the front court. For a team like Little Rock In their first tournament appearance in 21 years it is the worst possible match up. Just too much size in the way of any possible upset.

Iowa State over Iona
Every day at practice players for Iowa State have been forced to look up at the scoreboard which read 60-59, reminding them of their first round upset at the hands of #14 UAB. Looking for redemption Georges Niang and the Cyclones come out strong to blow Iona out of the building.

Second Round

Purdue over Iowa State
This could be one of the best second round matchup as the bigs of Purdue take on the experienced back court of Iowa State. The Cyclones play with a certain formula that is needed to work to perfection for them to win. At one time ranked #4 Iowa State has only played mediocre basketball over the last month, while Purdue has not quite gotten the respect they deserved after a solid 26-8 season. Look for the Boilermakers to get people to notice as they reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2010.

First Round-Denver, CO

Seton Hall over Gonzaga
This could be one of the more entertaining first round match ups as Seton Hall fresh off its first Conference Tournament Championship faces Gonzaga a team with a deep championship pedigree. However, this is not a vintage Gonzaga team as they needed to win the West Coast Conference Tournament just to get in. The guard play has been an issue all season for the Zags. Meanwhile the Pirates with Isaiah Whitehead leading the way have the playmaker need for a tournament run. Add a strong defense and it’s a quick exit for Gonzaga.

Utah over Fresno State
Fresno State emerged from a terrible season for the WAC is in the tournament for the first time in 15 years. Utah meanwhile a former WAC team themselves is coming off an appearance in the Pac-12 Championship Game. The Bulldogs just don’t have enough athletes to match up against Utah, who led Jakob Poeltl will win going away.

Second Round

Seton Hall over Utah
This game will be a story of Isaiah Whitehead versus Jakob Poeltl, whichever guard has the better game likely will be the one who leads his team into the Sweet 16. Seton Hall’s defense has been particularly strong as of late having beaten Villanova and Xavier in back-to-back Big East Tournament games. Look for the Pirates to remain hot as the Utes walk the plank.

First Round--St. Louis, MO

Michigan State over Middle Tennessee State
Some people are just made to shine in March, Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo is such a person as he took a mediocre Spartans team to the Final Four last year. Under his guidance Michigan State has appeared in the Final Four seven times in 17 seasons. This Michigan State is loaded with Wooden Award Nominee Denzel Valentine leading the way. The Spartans should have been a #1 seed, but when a teams win it all nobody remembers what line they started on.

Dayton over Syracuse
Two years ago Dayton made a run to the Elite Eight, if not for a slump in February the Flyers would have certainly been given a higher seed. Syracuse meanwhile has lost four of five heading into the tournament after a mediocre season. Of the 68 teams in the field there is no team that deserves less to be here. The Orange must have an inside man in the selection committee, or sent a nice care package. Dayton wins this one as St. Bonnie, St Mary’s and Monmouth look on knowing each one got robbed on behalf of Syracuse.

Second Round

Michigan State over Dayton
Dayton is a solid team that can make a run give the right circumstances. Facing Michigan State in the second round is hardly the right circumstances, as the Spartans have been to the Regional Semifinals in seven of the last eight years. This year could be one of the best squads ever in East Lansing as Michigan State has a deep shooting team that is excellent at spreading the ball and breaking down other team’s defenses.

Sweet 16

#2 Michigan State, #5 Purdue, #6 Seton Hall, #9 Butler

Regional Semifinals--Chicago, IL

Purdue over Butler
Butler is a team that has run hot and cold all season, when they are on they are hard to beat. When they are off they are in for a long night. Purdue with its size will force Butler to take most of their shots away from the post. There won’t be many opportunities for second chance points either. Purdue playing in the heart of Big Ten Country will advance to the Elite Eight for the first time since the walking comb over Gene Keady was on the bench.

Michigan State over Seton Hall
The Midwest Regionals at the United Center in the Chicago is being hosted by the Big Ten Conference. That seems to be appropriate as two Big Ten teams will be the focus of attention. Seton Hall could do a lot of things right and on the right night may be able to score an upset. However, Tom Izzo is too good of coach to let that happen. The Pirates may be able to keep this one close, but down the stretch expect the Spartans to pull away.

Regional Finals

Michigan State over Purdue
The Regional Finals will have a Big Ten feel as two of the conference power teams meet with a trip to the Final Four on the line. A year after making a surprise run, the Spartans are one of the tournament favorites. Purdue has the size, but Michigan State has the quickness. Look for a guard play of Denzel Valentine and Bryn Forbes to win the day as the Spartans head off to Houston, with Valentine being named the Midwest Region’s Most Outstanding Player.

Houston Texas

#2 Villanova, # 2 Oklahoma, #1 North Carolina, #2 Michigan State

The road to the Final Four is complete with the best of the best playing at NRG Stadium in Houston. The stadium is hosting its second Final Four and will also be the center of attention in February for Super Bowl LI.

Oklahoma over Villanova
One team that may feel at home in Houston is Oklahoma, who will be the closest to home as they take on Villanova in the National Semifinal. Each team in its own way is very strong, with the Wildcats needing a run to the Final Four to erase the memories or recent NCAA Tournament failures. The Sooners meanwhile are rock steady and consistent they have some of the traits of last year’s runner up Wisconsin, with a core group of players (Buddy Hield, Jordan Woodard, Ryan Spangler and Isaiah Cousins) that have been together the last three years. In these days of one and done scholarship players such consistency is a rare thing. To overcome a group effort like that Villanova will need someone to rise and take the game over. The key could be Daniel Ochefu who has been good at controlling the paint. If Ochefu is able to force Oklahoma into taking bad shots the door will open for Villanova. In the end Buddy Hield will find his range and Oklahoma will reach the championship game for the first time in nearly three decades.

Michigan State over North Carolina
If Michigan State and North Carolina play in November it would be must see TV like in 2011 when they played on Aircraft Carrier. With the talent on both teams it will seem like aircraft carrier is nearby again as both teams can do amazing things in the air. Both teams are loaded with NBA talent and both teams are proven winners with excellent coaches. The last time these two teams met in the tournament was the 2009 Championship Game in Detroit. This game has all the makings of a classic as Marcus Paige looks to end his career in Chapel Hill in style. Paige could be the key if North Carolina is to win the game, as his ability to make the big three point shot could win the game if it is close in the final minutes. The Spartans though have the biggest edge in Tom Izzo, knowing how to win the big game. For Michigan State it has always been the team game, and the Spartans are terrific beyond the arch, with four players shooting better than 40% from long range. The best shooter from downtown is Lansing Native Bryn Forbes who made 50.5% of three point shots taken this year. In a close game late it will be Forbes on the wing helping Michigan State soar to the National Championship Game.

National Championship Game

Michigan State 78 Oklahoma 67

The Final Four has seen Michigan State become a regular in the Final Four with seven appearances in 17 years under Coach Tom Izzo. Despite this success the Spartans have won just one championship in two title game appearances. The one flaw perhaps in Coach Izzo’s tenure. A second title would cement Tom Izzo as one of the best coaches in the history of the tournament. The headline battle will be with Wooden Finalists Buddy Hield and Denzel Valentine. Oklahoma has the experience with their core four, but Michigan State has the weapons. Whether it be Valentine or Bryn Forbes from downtown, Matt Costello or Eron Harris the Spartans have the weapons. This is what will be the story on Monday Night April 4th, as Matt Izzo and company climb the ladder and cut down the nets. The Final Four Most Outstanding Player will be Bryn Forbes who will hit several daggers from beyond the arch to put Oklahoma’s title hopes away.

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