By Nash Walker
Perhaps the most enticing, exciting, and also overwhelming time of year is upon us. Very little compares to the madness of March, where 18-22 year old kids battle on the biggest stage in college sports. KCOU Sport’s Nash Walker explains why he think this field is the ‘chalkiest’ in the tournaments’ recent history.
1. The 1 and 2 seeds are extremely solid.
The eight squads selected for the top two seeds in each region are very deserving, capable teams, as always. However, this year is different in that each 2-seed was in the running for a 1-seed throughout the season. In my opinion, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Michigan State are interchangeable with UNC, Gonzaga, and Virginia. I see the Final Four consisting of at least three 1-or-2 seeds in April’s Final Four in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
2. Duke is too strong.
Yes, the Blue Devils struggle from 3-point range, but we have never seen a player like Zion Williamson. If the future NBA first round pick is on his game, Duke will not be contested. It is hard to see a team that will stop Duke from getting to the basket, and if they hit a few clutch threes- this tournament is all but over. It also helps that they will one of the region’s heavyweights- Louisiana State and Michigan State- not both- as the possible team half of the region. I see Duke facing LSU in the Elite 8, and that will be their first true test of the madness.
3. The 12-5 match-ups are not as intriguing.
Murray State is the only team with a legitimate chance to defeat a 5-seed in this tournament. Ethan Happ will lead Wisconsin past Oregon. I do not see Auburn- perhaps the nation’s hottest team- falling to New Mexico State. It is unlikely that Mississippi State loses to Liberty on Friday night. Marquette’s Markus Howard facing off against Ja Morant will be the headliner of the first round, and I do believe Morant has the star power to lead Murray State to a second round matchup with Florida State. However, when Howard and the Golden Eagles are hitting their shots, they are incredibly hard to take down. Ball control will be key in this game.
4. The committee misjudged a number of teams.
I was absolutely stunned to see Auburn land a 5-seed as the SEC Champion. Tournament MVP Bryce Brown and his partner Jared Harper are arguably the best guard duo in the country. With the way Horace Spencer has been defending the rim, and the amount of trifectas that the Tigers make, a 5-seed is a ridiculous standing. The Tigers are uber talented. Another team worthy of a top-3 seed is Florida State. The Seminoles gave Duke a game in the ACC Championship and their length and athleticism can not be understated. This team is super dangerous as a 4-seed out of the West, and it is my belief they will upset Gonzaga in the Sweet 16.
5. If you are looking for upsets, look for 6 over 3 in the Round of 32.
Villanova is another team that I believe was misjudged in the seeding process. The Wildcats are on fire and took down Seton Hall for the Big East Championship. Phil Booth is the catalyst on at team that averages over 30 three-point attempts per contest. If their shots are falling from beyond the arc, do not be surprised if they take down Purdue on Saturday. A second potential 6-3 upset I am eyeing is Buffalo over Texas Tech. This Buffalo group dethroned DeAndre Ayton and the Arizona Wildcats last year in the first round, and returned standout guard Jeremy Harris. The Bulls haven’t lost since February 1st, and the Red Raiders of Texas Tech are vulnerable when they don’t force turnovers. Buffalo is an elite three-point shooting team and can bury the Red Raiders early.
Enjoy the games, and remember to eat the chalk!
Edited by Garrett Jones | @firstname.lastname@example.org