It is solely been a couple of days with out NCAA match basketball, but it surely appears like a lifetime.
The insanity returns on Thursday night time and continues for 4 days till our quartet of nationwide semi-finalists are revealed. Let’s predict who these 4 groups will probably be.
Selection: #1 in Alabama
When the brackets went out two Sundays in the past, Alabama appeared just like the most secure guess of the 4 No. at the least get into the Elite Eight. After knocking out the 2nd, third and 4th place gamers within the area forward of the second weekend of the match, Crimson Tide at the moment are the clear favourite to advance to the Remaining 4 for the primary time within the present’s historical past.
“Bama did not face a lot resistance from both of his first two opponents – Texas A&M Corpus-Christi and Maryland – however there’s nonetheless some trigger for concern after the match’s opening weekend.
Freshman Brandon Miller has struggled with a groin harm that has clearly affected him in every of his first two NCAA Match video games. He failed to attain in his first-round match and completed the primary weekend on simply 5-of-17 (29.4 %) capturing from the sphere.
Alabama’s head coach Nate Oats mentioned Miller didn’t practice in any respect on Monday and educated evenly on Tuesday, however nonetheless believes the All-American will probably be 100% or near it by the group’s Friday night time sport. Till that’s the case, Tide is a secure guess to deal with the defensive pressures of San Diego State after which beat Creighton (if the “Jays” handle Princeton) in a really entertaining ups and downs romance within the regional finals.
Selection: No. 7 in Michigan
The East has at all times been the area with the best potential for insanity, and it definitely lived as much as that reckoning. Purdue turned the second No. 1 seed ever to lose within the first spherical, No. 2 seed Marquette was dropped within the second, and the modern betting tip within the area, the red-hot Duke, managed to attain solely 52 factors in a second spherical loss to Tennessee.
You can also make arguments for every of the 4 groups nonetheless standing, however let’s use widespread sense right here. Florida Atlantic is within the Candy 16 for the primary time in historical past, Kansas State has achieved dramatic outcomes this season however nonetheless has a first-year head coach, Tennessee and Rick Barnes have turn out to be recognized primarily in recent times for his or her disappointments within the NCAA tournaments … and is so is Tom Izzo, the person who has been to eight Remaining Fours and brought about probably the most surprises (16) of any coach in NCAA Match historical past.
Michigan State was excellent in its first two match victories over USC and Marquette. Tyson Walker has turn out to be the star guard each group wants in March, with the group enjoying defensively like a cohesive unit, forcing a complete of 27 losses in rounds one and two.
In each Remaining 4 however one since 2012, at the least one group has been seeded seventh or worse. Since 2011, a complete of 10 groups seeded seventh or worse have misplaced the ultimate weekend of the season.
Final time Izzo took the seven for a second weekend? They finally superior to the 2015 Remaining 4.
All of it simply makes an excessive amount of sense. Michigan will win the area, and pictures of “Izzo in March” will fly quick and livid subsequent week because the group prepares to go out to Houston.
Selection: #2 in Texas
The Midwest is the second weekend’s most chalky area, with solely fifth seed Miami technically misplaced. Even then, the Hurricanes are loaded with defensive expertise, having smashed fourth seed Indiana within the second spherical, and have a psychological benefit since they performed within the regional finals final season.
No matter how spectacular Houston’s second half was in opposition to Auburn final Sunday, there is no doubt that the top-seeded Cougars are knocked out. All-American Marcus Sasser struggled with a goin harm that saved him out of the American Athletic title sport and closely hampered his first two NCAA tournaments in Houston. Fellow defenseman Jamal Shead injured his knee through the group’s first-round win and was affected through the win at Auburn. Until each gamers are near 100%, it will likely be a tricky climb for Kelvin Sampson’s membership to win back-to-back video games in Kansas Metropolis.
The group that can profit most from Houston’s well being issues is Texas, which received the Large 12 in Kansas Metropolis two weeks in the past. The Longhorns are additionally blessed with defensive expertise, however they play with 9 gamers who common 11 minutes or extra on courtroom per sport. Being the deepest group within the area is a large benefit in opposition to Xavier’s rail-thin group that solely goes 6 deep within the Candy 16, adopted by a doubtlessly injured Houston group two days later.
UT scored only one 3-pointer in a second-round sport in opposition to Penn State, however nonetheless progressed, largely as a result of excellent play of ahead Dylan Disu. It is a guess the Longhorn defenders will not shoot as badly once more this match, and should you mix that with the group’s total depth and Disu enjoying one of the best basketball of his life, they’re one of the best guess to win two extra video games and declare the Midwest Regional Title.
Selection: #4 UConn
It is a present area. Of the 4 still-standing groups that beforehand received the nationwide championship, three of them are within the Western area. The area additionally holds the best stage of particular person expertise (“sup, Arkansas?”) and arguably two of the area’s sexiest semi-final matchups.
It isn’t arduous to see any of those 4 groups making it out of this area (I believe all of them would win within the Japanese area), however I am sticking with my pre-tournament nationwide champion picked UConn right here.
Aside from the primary 10 minutes in opposition to Saint Mary’s Huskies, they have been a machine within the opening weekend of the match. They took one of the best shot of the proficient Iona group and pushed them apart for a 24-point win, then within the second spherical they beat one other group from the Gaels who appeared extremely spectacular within the first spherical with a win over VCU.
Adama Sanogo was an absolute beast final weekend, Jordan Hawkins discovered his exterior shot within the second half of Saint Mary’s, and collectively UConn has the scale, ability and elegance to make Arkansas uncomfortable in a means that Kansas could not. The Huskies are 28-2 after they preserve groups beneath 47.0 % capturing from the sphere and 0-5 after they do not. Arkansas missed 47.0 % from the sphere in 5 of their final six video games.
UCLA, like Houston, has performed properly however has harm issues. Gonzaga has a star in Drew Timme, however would not have the guard sport Connecticut has.
Huskies are the only option right here.