The 2014 NCAA Men’s National Tournament has finally arrived and true March Madness is here. With all 68 teams fighting to get to the big dance, college basketball will start to get a little more interesting. My favorite team UNC is in the tournament as a 6-seed, but I doubt that they will last too long. Last year, I picked Indiana to win the whole thing, but I was wrong. My 2013 bracket was pretty bad. I only got just over half of the picks right. I tried again this year to fill out my bracket and we’ll see what happens. I won’t give you all of my exact picks, but I will make some predictions!
Fantastic, fabulous, whichever alliteration you like best, but the teams with these freakishly talented freshmen will make it far in the tournament, but I don’t think a team with one of these freshmen will win the whole thing. Kentucky was the last team that had a fabulous freshman (Anthony Davis) to win the title. Although these freshmen do a great job of carrying these teams, they don’t have a lot of experience to carry them all the way to the top. I have Jabari Parker (the winner of the freshman of the year award) and Duke losing to Wichita State in the Elite Eight. Syracuse and freshman point guard Tyler Ennis will go very far in the tournament (I have them in the Elite Eight against Syracuse), but this Syracuse team has weaknesses and people are starting to figure them out. C.J. Fair will help Ennis carry the load, but Syracuse has too many obstacles to overcome in this tournament. Aaron Gordon and Arizona have the best shot at winning the title, but I have them losing in the Final Four to the upset-minded Wichita State Shockers! Then there is a team with two fabulous freshman on the squad: Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid for Kansas. Embiid is still battling a back injury and no one knows how well he will be able to perform in an enduring tournament full of heated competition. Wiggins showed that he could carry the team on his back with the 41 scoring outburst in the loss at West Virginia and a barrage of points in the overtime win against Oklahoma State with 30. However, he has also managed to turn the ball over in crucial moments and the rest of his team isn’t at the same level. I have Kansas losing early in the Sweet Sixteen to Syracuse.
The 1-seeds are very promising this year. Wichita State is always ready to give an unexpected performance of brilliance, Virginia could create a lot of bracket busting with their surprising rise in the ACC tournament, Florida is the number one team in the nation (their last loss was at Connecticut on December 2nd), and Arizona’s strength and athleticism outshines their weaknesses and flaws. Virginia is the only team I don’t have in the Final Four because I have them losing to a very well-coached and experienced Michigan State team in the Elite Eight. Virginia’s run in the big dance would make for a great story, but sometimes happy endings don’t come for most Cinderella teams. The two teams I have in the National Championship are two number one seeds: Florida and Wichita State. I believe in the Shockers and think that they can go all the way, unfortunately they’re going to hit a brick wall against Florida. Billy Donovan is too good of a coach to let the drama of an undefeated team beat his club. His coaching and his player’s experience in big games (mostly against Kentucky) will be his advantage in the Gator’s national championship win. Donovan is a very underrated coach who has been overshadowed by Kentucky’s star power over the last few years. I strongly believe that he will solidify his place as one of the greats with this win in the national championship.
If I had to pick a wild-card to win it all, I would go with two teams: Michigan State and Louisville. Tom Izzo’s Spartans have been overlooked this year, but they are quietly one of the best teams in the country. If they could beat Florida in the Final Four, then they deserve to win the national title instead of them. Louisville could win back-to-back championships if they play their cards right. If they properly utilize the talents of Russ Smith and Montrezl Harrell, then that deadly combination could lead them to victory once more. Not only that, but Luke Hancock has some experience in big games and is always ready to put up a big performance if asked (he did it before last year). Louisville would possibly have to beat Wichita State, Duke and Arizona if they were going to go all the way again.
So there you have it. Don’t rely too much on my understanding, but this is what I believe will happen this year. Then again, you can never correctly what is going to happen in all the madness that is the month of March. All I know is that the team with the most experience is going to be the one to win it all. Freshmen are great and talented, but talent always falls short to the heart of the champion. Never underestimate the heart of a champion!