Picking the Final Four from the remaining 16 teams

Picking the Final Four from the remaining 16 teams

Carson Field, Sports Editor

The first weekend of the Madness was wild. The viewers had the pleasure of watching buzzer-beaters, upsets and blowouts. Despite the number of upsets, there are only two double-digit seeds remaining in the field, as it was whittled down to 16.

The Final Four will be decided after this weekend, with the Sweet Sixteen on Thursday and Friday, and the Elite Eight on Saturday and Sunday.  It is near impossible to predict who will be going to Houston, as no one had a perfect bracket after the first round, but certain teams are looking to be favorites to make the Final Four.

The South Region’s Sweet Sixteen representatives include one-seed Kansas, two-seed Villanova, three-seed Miami and five-seed Maryland. While Kansas is known to many as the best team in College Basketball, they could have trouble making the Final Four. The trouble won’t likely come in the Sweet Sixteen against Maryland, as they survived close calls against double-digit seeded teams South Dakota State and Hawai’i.

The trouble will likely hit in the Elite Eight against either Villanova or Miami. Both teams came into the tournament looked at as overrated. However, both have played with a chip on their shoulders, not having any trouble with first and second round opponents. I ultimately pick Villanova to make the Final Four from the South because they dominated a solid Iowa team by 19 points, which is very impressive.  

In the West Region, none of the top four seeds were upset, making for an interesting Sweet Sixteen. The teams, going from first to fourth seed, are Oregon, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Duke. The most intriguing matchup of this Region is the Oklahoma-Texas A&M game. Both teams had stellar regular seasons.

The Sooners are led by star guard Buddy Hield, who will likely be named Wooden Player of the Year this year. The Aggies might be able to neutralize Hield’s star power with their depth. The Aggies are led by players such as Jalen Jones, Danuel House, Alex Caruso and Tyler Davis. These players are not necessarily household names to the ordinary basketball fan, but they have stepped up this season, leading the Aggies to the Sweet Sixteen.

I predict the winner of this game to ultimately win the region, and I expect that to be the Aggies in a well fought out battle. While Oregon and Duke are good teams, they don’t seem as dominant. The Aggies might be destined to win the Championship after the greatest comeback in Tournament history last Sunday against Northern Iowa.

The East Region is led by one-seed North Carolina and also includes five-seed Indiana, six-seed Notre Dame and seven-seed Wisconsin. The most intriguing matchup of this Region is the North Carolina-Indiana game. North Carolina and Indiana are playing better than about anyone in the NCAA right now, making for a potential great game in Philly.

Both teams are led by star players in UNC’s Brice Johnson and Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell. This game will be close and possibly decided in the final minute of the game, but I ultimately predict the Hoosiers to win. A win would let them play either Notre Dame or Wisconsin in the Elite Eight. Notre Dame and Wisconsin both needed buzzer beaters to get to the Sweet Sixteen, and are honestly not as talented as the Indiana team led by Ferrell.

What makes me think that Indiana will make the Final Four is how they beat Kentucky. Kentucky was playing very well at the end of the season, but Indiana found a way to come out of Des Moines with a win. This is a team that you do not want to play right now!

The Midwest Region is lacking the star teams of the other regions, with the exception of Virginia, but there are dangerous teams in this region. The teams in the Midwest are one-seed Virginia, four-seed Iowa State, 10-seed Syracuse and 11-seed Gonzaga. Despite the large gap in seeding from Virginia to Gonzaga, this is a very interesting region with all the teams playing stellar basketball.

The Virginia-Iowa State matchup will be interesting to see how Virginia stops Iowa State forward Georges Niang. He is one of the best big men in the country, standing 6’8” and averaging 20.2 points per game. I expect Malcolm Brogdon and London Perrantes of Virginia to get past Niang, as they have both played exceptionally lately in the first two rounds. The battle of the double-digit seeds includes two teams playing well. Gonzaga manhandled a solid Utah team in the second round, showing that they have something to prove. Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis will lead the Gonzaga over Syracuse, who is good, but not playing as well as the Zags.

The Elite Eight matchup would then be Virginia vs. Gonzaga. While Brogdon and Perrantes have been playing above par lately, I predict Gonzaga to win this game and be the “cinderella” team in the Final Four.
The way the first weekend went sets up for an interesting Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight. If the games live up to the hype, the fans are in for a treat!