March Madness has officially begun. On Sunday, the men’s college basketball bracket was released. This year, a team from a power conference in Kentucky is looking to finish off the perfect season at 40-0, which hasn’t been done since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers did it. Here is a forecast for each region and what you should be looking for.
In the Midwest region, the overall No. 1 seed, Kentucky, looks to remain on top and to reach the final four from this region. They start out with a tune up game against a No. 16 seed depending on wins the play-in game – Manhattan or Hampton. No. 16 seed has never beaten a No. 1 seed, and it is highly unlikely to happen this year against Kentucky.
The seventh seed in the region, the Wichita State Shockers, may be the team that delivers the biggest upset from this region. If they get past Indiana, it would set up a meeting with Kansas. The Shockers have played well all year, but due to a loss in their conference tournament, their seed dropped dramatically. Wichita State has a good chance of beating Kansas and could be the best game to watch from this region.
Prediction for the Midwest region: Kentucky over Notre Dame. Cats move into the final four.
The East region looks to be the toughest of the four, as Villanova is the No. 1 seed along with other top-level teams such as Virginia, Michigan St. and Louisville.
Villanova also seem to be the most vulnerable No. 1 seed. The second matchup against potential opponent N.C. State is a very possible upset for this region. N.C. State knocked off a No. 1 seed in Duke during the regular season and has one of the best backcourts in the country. As it stands, this is biggest potential upset for this region.
The most intriguing matchup from this region could be Michigan State and Virginia in the round of 32. If both teams can get past their first opponents, then this game will be electric. Michigan State, despite being a No. 7 seed, is one of the hottest teams in basketball and has legendary coach Tom Izzo calling the shots. Virginia has not played great basketball the last two weeks, which could also contribute to Michigan State’s win.
Prediction: Michigan State tops Louisville to punch its ticket to the final four.
Wisconsin holds the No. 1 seed in the West region. This team has arguably the best player in the country, Frank “The Tank” Kaminsky. This region seems like it will be the top two seeds meeting with the final four trip on the line. Arizona, the No. 2 seed, has both Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis Jefferson, who are two dynamic players that should be able to help the Wildcats run through the region. It would be a repeat of last year’s Elite Eight game, which went down as an instant classic and in which Wisconsin defeated Arizona by a single point.
UNC beat Louisville and Virginia in the ACC tournament last week and have been a roll the last couple weeks, which also includes defeating Duke. Marcus Paige, the offensively leader for the team, and the Tar Heels would figure to be a tough matchup for Wisconsin in the round of 16.
Prediction: Arizona wins the rematch against Wisconsin.
The South region is being called the easiest region this year, with Duke headlining as the No. 1 seed.
The Blue Devils will look to exorcise the demons of last year’s early tournament exit against No. 14 seed Mercer. They are in prime position, as they may not have a legitimate challenger until the Elite Eight, when they could play Gonzaga or Iowa State. Jahlil Oakfor is projected to be the top pick in the NBA next season and has been dominant as a freshman.
No. 13 seed Eastern Washington has a chance to pull off the upset of the tournament against Georgetown. The team has the NCAA leading scorer Tyler Harvey and Georgetown struggles during tournament time every year, making this a game to circle for an upset.
The best matchup for this region looks like it could be between Gonzaga and Iowa State. These two teams are evenly matched, with Iowa State having the better perimeter defense while Gonzaga possesses an all-American player in Kyle Wiltjer, the transfer from Kentucky. Wiltjer will need to have a special night for the Zags to pull this one out.
Prediction: Gonzaga knocks off top rank Duke as the Zags reach the final four.
Who will come out on top, no one truly knows. That’s why viewers should kick back and enjoy the crazy month of basketball that is about to unfold. They do not call it March Madness for nothing.