Why One of These Five Teams Will Win March Madness…
Photo From: The Herald Bulletin
My favorite time of the year has rolled around, not only has the NBA been heating up as playoffs approach, but the biggest college tournament of the year is right around the corner. This year's college ball has surprised us, with teams who didn't reach their expectations, to those who surpassed their projection, we have one hell of a month ahead of us. At the end of the day, it isn't called March Madness for no reason. We have seen underdogs go far in this tournament as well as top seeds take an early leave. Continue reading to see why I believe one of these five teams will take home the title of College Basketball Champions.
Photo From: AL
The Auburn Tigers (27-4)
In my opinion, this Auburn team has the best frontcourt duo within Walker Kessler and Jabari Smith in college basketball. It is very apparent that this exact team has all the components to go all the way. Not only does this Auburn team have an extremely effective offense, but Kessler is a big part of why we can say the same about their defense. His top-notch length helps aid his rim-protecting impulse. His versatility is shown as he can catch about any lob and aid the offense by stretching the floor. As for Jabari Smith, his height and length also aid for a good shot and a strong post. He has shown to be very comfortable with the ball, as creating plays is not a problem for Smith. These two aren't the only threats that the Tigers acquire, KD Johnson, is another one of those threats. Passion is a great way to describe this young man, his heart is extremely apparent, which sometimes could get the best of him. Johnson has a great skill of getting to the basket, as well as splitting the defense, but Johnson can also throw it up from deep at a consistent level. Something I find really interesting about this particular program is the point guard dynamic they run. We see two very different yet very effective players that run the point in their own ways. Wendell Green Jr. is a very fast-paced, explosive guard whereas Zep Jasper is a calmer, steadier guard. It will be interesting to see how head coach Bruce Pearl utilizes both points in different situations. This team obviously shares great chemistry and understanding, with much other reasoning, these reasons above are the main reasons the Auburn Tigers can win the championship this season.
Photo From: USA Today
The Arizona Wildcats (28-3)
The Wildcats encompass the best qualities from some of the top basketball programs in the nation, which makes them such a threat in this upcoming tournament. Their fast play style not only tops any opponent on offensive boards but the appearance of Christian Koloko dominates the paint as well as being one of the best rim protectors at this level. Having future lottery pick Bennidict Mathurin doesn't hurt either, one of the most explosive scorers while rolling. One of my favorite qualities that this Arizona team display is their grit, never have I seen this team give up, even in games when they put themselves in a large deficit, their mentally strong organization can easily come out of any funk to overcome their opponent. That right there shows a quality most teams at this level don't acquire. It seems like Arizona is going into this tournament with a very strong roster, one question I have is… Will point guard Kerr Kriisa be enough to help his team get to the top? This sophomore guard has shown us what he is capable of, but we have also seen him go cold, and when he's cold, there's nothing there. If Arizona had a point guard that was more consistent and confident, then winning the championship would look clearer than it does now. Regardless of this Arizona is still one of the top competitors in this competition and all their opponents will need to bring their best game to stand a chance against the Wildcats.
Photo From: Forbes
The Gonzaga Bulldogs (26-3)
I don't remember the last time I wrote an article about March Madness and didn't have Gonzaga on the list. This right here should be no surprise. Gonzaga in recent times has been one of the most dominant basketball programs, it is often argued that their conference is weak and they will continue to choke in the tournament. But, this team here is an extreme force. Something that is an obvious difference from last year's team to this year's team is the defense, specifically the interior defense. We saw Baylor destroy the Zags in the paint last season, but freshman and possible first pick Chet Holmgren has massively assisted this team with his rim-protecting ability. You can say all you want about the Bulldogs but their offense continues to show how elite they really are, ranking top in the nation. Point guard Andrew Nembhard, shows great maturity while playing, his elite decision-making is put on display as he is surrounded by a bunch of shooters. Forward Drew Timme is a strong, skilled big who can score in a variety of ways. His offensive arsenal includes scoring in the post, a nice mid-range shot, and a consistent shot off the dribble making him a threat to any defense. We have seen Gonzaga crumble in the past when it mattered the most, will this season finally be theirs?
Photo From: 247 Sports
The Baylor Bears (26-5)
After covering Gonzaga, I felt like it was only fair to talk about the team that topped them and became champions, The Baylor Bears. The Bears had an incredible start to this season, but with injuries, the season quickly took a turn to confusion. So, why do I have them on this list? Do they deserve to be here? Let me tell you why the Bears are still one of the most threatening teams going into this tournament. A lot of teams lack that security within their point guard, not the Baylor Bears. James Aknjo, Arizona transfer, may not be a future NBA star but dynamism, shot creation, and consistency is something a lot of other teams at this level lack. Without last season's stars, Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler The Bears needed to fill that void. LJ Cryer and Adam Flagler alongside Aknjo pose a great dynamic, these two men are high-level shooters that aren't afraid to test the waters. These players can easily win you games throughout this tournament as they are accompanied by their extreme athleticism. Freshman Jeremy Sochan and Kendall Brown are another reason this team can make it to the championship. Both freshmen bring great defense to this team, being able to guard and stop multiple positions. Sochan, will have the nation's eyes on him. Earlier this season center Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua went down with an injury that unfortunately ended his season. Baylor now likes to play a small ball rotation with Sochan as their center, which is great because he can also handle and shoot the ball. It is extremely tough to repeat and win the championship two seasons in a row, although they aren't favored to win the whole thing, you most definitely can’t count them out.
Photo From: Duke Athletics
The Duke Blue Devils (26-5)
With Duke missing the tournament last season, it's exciting to see them back as one of the top competitors entering this tournament. The thing about Duke, is they have multiple players that can make a difference. The Blue Devils' most apparent qualities include their athleticism, their size, and an extreme amount of talent that can top any team at this level. Paolo Banchero is the first guy that comes to mind when talking about this team, watching him live against Florida State was the craziest thing. He is so NBA-ready. His all-around talent can lead his team through the whole game. AJ Griffen had a rough start to the season, coming off an aggressive knee injury, he finally found his way to aid fellow freshman Banchero to lead the ACC and put them in a good position for March. The ACC this season hasn't posed the best competition for Duke, but we have seen them in situations where they lost that chemistry, falling to UM, FSU, UNC, and UVA all once this season. Rim enforces Mark Williams and Theo John to play an old-school type of basketball to protect the rim and block shots. Overall, Duke is an extremely young team that plays at a very high level, their ability to defend without getting in foul trouble will be a great quality to take into this tournament. How can we mention this Duke Basketball team without mentioning their backbone, head coach Mike Krzyzewski has been in multiple final fours and championships to know what it takes to get there. His speech after his loss to UNC should scare anyone in their path. The talent and depth this team acquires is a very frightening sight for any opponent. I am excited to see how far this Duke team can make it. Will Coach K go out with a bang? Or will another team cut his season short?
Photo From: Heartland College Sports
These five teams above are who I think have the best chance of winning the title, but I would like to mention a couple of other teams that also can shake up this tournament. Some notable mentions are Texas Tech, Ohio State, Kentucky, Purdue, Kansas, and Providence. Get ready for some crazy upsets and expected blowouts, because in only a couple of days 60 teams will begin their journey to the top. Who do you think will make their way to the top?