It’s everybody’s favorite time of year when the best of best face off in College Basketball. With plenty of upsets, nail-biting games, and buzzer-beaters, this is sure to be the best month of the year. The Royal Page breaks down each region with predictions, players to watch, and potential upsets. Ladies and Gentlemen, let the madness begin.
Overall Outlook: The tournaments’ #1 overall seed this year is the Virginia Cavaliers. With a record of 31-2, the ACC champions are the well deserved #1. However, they are placed in a very tough side of the bracket with #4 Arizona and #5 Kentucky as potential Sweet 16 matchups for the Cavs.
Potential Cinderella: Georgia State.
The Bulldogs have been spoilers before when two years ago, they knocked off Baylor in the first round which saw Head Coach Ron Hunter fall out of his chair after his son, RJ Hunter, made a three-pointer with only two seconds left. This year, they are led by PG D’Marcus Simonds, who leads the team with 21 PPG. Look for the Bulldogs to upset Cincinnati.
Player to Watch: Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona
Ayton is top five pick for sure and Arizona is in a tough spot. They have to beat Kentucky to get to the Sweet 16, so Ayton is going to have to step up. He is averaging 20.3 points and 11.5 rebounds and is up for the Wooden Award.
Region Winner Prediction: Arizona
If they get by Kentucky, they will have the momentum against Virginia(assuming they win). I believe Ayton will carry Arizona to the Elite Eight where they will most likely face Cincinnati or Tennessee, two opponents that can be taken down pretty easy.
Overall Outlook: Villanova is the #1 and they have potentially the easiest path to the Final Four. The #2 seed is Purdue and after that it’s #3 Texas Tech. This is going to be a very interesting side of the bracket because of teams like Alabama, Marshall, and Butler, who all are upset oriented.
Potential Cinderella: Alabama.
There are so many teams to choose from because I could see an upset in almost every matchup. I choose Alabama because I not only predict them to beat Virginia Tech, but I also think they will beat Villanova to advance to they Sweet 16.
Player to Watch: Collin Sexton PG, Alabama
Sexton is playing out of mind lately. He is projected as a top ten pick and is also going to be in the running for the Wooden Award(player of the year). Sexton has dropped more than 20 points in his past 4 games and has Alabama as team to watch out for.
Region Winner Prediction: Purdue
This region so difficult to predict so I will choose the most veteran team in the tourney. I could see Villanova, Purdue, Alabama, Butler, and even Marshall winning this side. However, Purdue is a smart, fundamentally sound, fast team that I think will survive this odd side and will be the Beasts of the East.
Overall Outlook: Xavier comes in as a somewhat surprising #1 seed and they will have to face some tough teams to get into the Final Four. There are many solid teams in this region. Ohio State, Michigan, Gonzaga, and North Carolina are all teams that have been on fire lately.
Potential Cinderella: Missouri
The tourney’s best #8 just so happens to be in the same region as the weakest #1 seed. The potential Missouri-Xavier matchup is one that favors the Tigers. They spent the whole year without their best player, Michael Porter Jr. who is now back at the best time. He will use his size and speed to lead Mizzou to an upset over Xavier.
Player to Watch: Keita Bates-Diop SF, Ohio State
The Junior has splashed on to the scene with new coach Chris Holtmann. KBD is playing out of his mind for Ohio State, averaging 19.4 points and 8.8 rebound per game. KDB was picked for the All-Big Ten team and look for him to have a big tourney for the Buckeyes.
Region Winner Prediction: North Carolina
This is the Tar Heels’ region to lose. Not only are they playing some of their games in Charlotte which is a huge advantage, but they don’t have to face Gonzaga, Ohio State, or Xavier until the Elite Eight. They will get by Michigan because of their advantage on offense and beat one of those teams to go to the Final Four.
Overall Outlook: The Midwest Region is apparently the so-called region of death. When you have Kansas, Duke, and Michigan State all in the same region, it makes sense to be called the region of death. Not only that but Trae Young and Oklahoma have a chance to do some damage like Buddy Hield did only two years ago.
Potential Cinderella: Oklahoma.
Like I said before, Trae Young is for real. Young is the favorite to win the Wooden Award and with 27.4 PPG and 8.8 APG, I can see why. Yes, people do not trust Oklahoma because of their dismal end to the season, but when you have a player that can go off at any time, you have to be in the race for cinderella. Even if you are a #10 seed.
Player to Watch: Grayson Allen, SG Duke
Allen had yet another unsportsmanlike act when he hip checked North Carolina freshmen, Garrison Brooks. However, Allen is a veteran player and he has a lot to prove to become a potential lottery pick. Duke has always relied on its leaders, and Allen will have to be a good leader for team with four freshmen in the starting lineup.
Region Winner Prediction: Duke.
They have the best starting lineup in the nation and one of the best of all time. Marvin Bagley III is a top 5 pick and has been playing great. Former Apple Valley guard, Gary Trent Jr. has been a great shooter and we can’t forget about Grayson Allen. Also, Mike Krzyzewski is debatably the best coach of all time.
I have thought about this for a while and have come to a conclusion: DO NOT BET AGAINST DUKE. Yes, they have lost badly before and yes, Grayson Allen might be a dirty player. However I believe this is the year. Trent Jr. will lead this team like Tyus Jones did back in 2015. I think their opponent will be North Carolina. This will the most perfect matchup ever and the Duke Blue Devils will not shy away from the moment.
Final Score: Duke 90, North Carolina 88.