Question of the Week: Which Team in the Sweet 16 Will Win it All?

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Freshman guard Lonzo Ball has his team dancing into the Sweet Sixteen of the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

By Reed Shultz

With two rounds of March Madness completed, the Sweet Sixteen field is now confirmed. Villanova, a number one seed and the reigning champion, surprisingly fell to Wisconsin this past week. Similarly, Duke, an extremely popular pick to win it all, also lost, busting many brackets. When looking at the sixteen teams left, I think the two most impressive and dominant teams thus far have been UNC and UCLA. UCLA’s Lonzo Ball has been everything his father has claimed him to be. He certainly looks NBA-ready, in my opinion. Led by his shooting and passing skills, Lonzo can take over a game, making UCLA a tough team to knockout. They are my pick to win it all.

Kentucky, a perennial championship contender, has looked vulnerable at times. They struggled to beat Northern Kentucky and came extremely close to losing to Wichita State this past Sunday. While I think Kentucky has the talent on paper to win it all, I don’t think it’s going to happen for them this year. Gonzaga is another interesting team. They consistently are one of the best regular season teams, but always seem to come up short in the tournament. Unfortunately, I see a similar result happening to them again this year. UNC is a veteran team that has a lot of the same talent as last year. Ultimately, I think UNC and UCLA will face off in the Elite Eight. Whoever wins that game I think will be our national champions. UNC will have to go through Butler and UCLA through Kentucky this Friday, but I think both will emerge victorious.

Look for UCLA to win its first national championship since the 1990s. 

 

By Rob Nightingale

After a relatively quiet first round in the NCAA Tournament, the madness finally arrived in a flurry of second round games. By the time the final 16 teams were decided, betting favorite Duke, last year’s national champion Villanova and serious contender Louisville had all been eliminated. People, Villanova fans especially, will argue that those three schools’ opponents were all underseeded; however, the fact remains that in order to win a national title, you must play and beat great teams.  With that being said, some teams’ paths have been easier than others, but the final 16 teams all rightfully belong there.  

This is one of the strongest Sweet 16s in recent memory, which will make for fantastic basketball in the coming weekends. In by far the strongest remaining region, I see Kentucky escaping and ultimately winning it all. Kentucky will win its titanic rematches against UCLA, UNC and Kansas on its road to the final game before beating Pac 12 champion Arizona in the Championship Game. The Wildcats’ path is extremely daunting; however, John Calipari always seems to get his talented, freshman-laden teams playing their best basketball in March. If my prediction turns out to be completely wrong, which most likely will happen, expect the winner of the tournament to come from the right side of the bracket (Midwest and South Regions). The left side of the bracket has no coaches who have made the title game and only one coach who has made the Final Four, WVU’s Bob Huggins. Meanwhile, the right side has a combined four national titles and 17 Final Fours.  Coaching experience matters in March, so it’s safe to bet on the seasoned veterans.     

 

By Brandon Gardner 

It feels like every year, promising teams across the nation get knocked off in the early rounds of March Madness. It’s never a surprise that there are upsets, but it’s always entertaining to see which top teams get knocked off in the first rounds. At this point, the tournament has shed off three-fourths of the teams, leaving only 16. Among the fatalities are last year’s defending champion Villanova, as well as number-two Duke, Louisville and third-ranked Florida State.

The downfall of Duke this season was unpredictable. Not only was it surprising that Duke lost, but South Carolina scoring 65 points in the second half was also quite a shock. The Gamecocks were superior in defense throughout the game, which was essential in order to shut down the Blue Devils, who were 37th in shooting in the nation compared to South Carolina, who was only 306th.

With three top teams out of the picture, there are now new potential competitors who could take the title. One team that should be respected are the Wisconsin Badgers, who recently downed the number-one seed going into the tournament. Despite coming into the tournament as the number-eight seed, the Badgers will be a formidable opponent from here on out. If the Badgers can advance to next week, they have a good chance of making it to the final four now that Duke will not be meeting them there.

Another obvious contender among the 16 teams left in the tournament is Kentucky. With their tenacious defense and freshmen stepping up and playing like seasoned seniors, this team is likely to make it to next week to compete as one of the final four teams.