For a sports fan, the best time of the year is March. It provides us with the greatest sports event in the world, March Madness. Whether you are a college basketball insider or just a common fan that tunes in for the madness, we are all locked in on this tournament. We put money on something we most likely won’t win on, we make brackets with our favorite university to win it all only to watch them lose in the first round. We pick Harvard as our upset team because… Harvard. We pick whom Jay Bilas picks as his upset teams then get mad at Jay Bilas when he is wrong and they lose. It’s what comes with the madness of March, and that is why we love it so much
This year, there will be many upsets, I can promise that. I can’t tell you who, but the field is weak and the bubble is softer than a babies bottom, so expect the unexpected. Even thought there will be upsets, it is pretty obvious that there are only a select group of teams that actually have a chance to win it all this year. These select teams have so much more talent than the rest of the field and that is why it would be anything but shocking to see a team not from this group win it all. Without further ado, the teams that have the best chance to come out on top of the college basketball world in order of most likely to least likely.
It has been 10 years since there was a back-to-back national champion in college basketball but the Wildcats are looking to change that. This team is led by two of the very best players in college basketball Josh Hart and Jalen Brunson. Hart, who is averaging 18.8 ppg, 3.3 assts and .6 boards, is one of the finalists for national player of the year. He has been an all-around stud this season. Brunson has also been getting it done this year as he is averaging 14.6 ppg and 4.5 assists. The combination of Hart and Brunson led to a killer backcourt for Villanova this season. The Wildcats also have Kris Jenkins, (just that guy who hit the last second buzzer beater in the national championship last year) who is averaging 13.3 ppg and 4.3 boards. The Wildcats may be the best all around team in college basketball. They are extremely fun to watch and also very well coached by Jay Wright. Don’t be surprised if the Wildcats cut down the nets this year. If I had to put money down on any team, this would be the one.
Don’t skip over this name and think there is no way that Gonzaga can win it all this year. Yes, it seems like every year they are one of the top seeds and lose early, but this year I promise you it will be different (I hope). This team has some of the most talented players in the country at every single position. Nigel Williams-Goss is a transfer from Washington who has lit it up this year for the Zags. He is averaging 16.3 ppg, 4.8 assts and 5.7 rebounds. He is one of the best point guards in the country and heck, possibly the best player. While having the best point guard in the country, they may also have the best big in the country, followed by two other bigs who can be just as dominant. Try to say this name three times fast, Przemek Karnowski. Karnowski is a man amongst boys and he is so big that the earth may actually revolve around him. The dude is 7’1 and 300 bills (rumor has it he eats a whole calf for breakfast each morning). He is averaging 12.8 ppg, 5.8 boards and 2 assts. The perfect comparison for Karnowski is Marc Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies. Karnowski is an amazing passer for a big, just like Gasol. The two other dominant bigs for the Zags are Zach Collins, who comes off the bench, and Missouri transfer Johnathan Williams. Simply put, these two guys would be the best player on most fringe tournament teams. This is the year Gonzaga has a real chance to win it all. They should go into the tournament undefeated, which is their only problem because they really don’t know what it is like to be in a close game from start to finish. The talent is there, let’s see what they can do with it.
The Jayhawk faithful aren’t in need of a championship because they have won the big 12 regular season championship 13 years in a row. The problem is though, they only have one national championship to show for it. Will it change this year? Damn sure could. The Jayhawks have three go to guys in Josh Jackson, Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham. Both Jackson and Mason are up for players of the year. If Mason wasn’t there, Graham would be up for that award too. Jackson is one of the best freshmen in the country, he attacks the hoop like no other, and he is also very special on the defense end at the small forward position. The two gaurds Mason and Graham are very special, they create for others while also scoring at a terrific rate. Plus they’re both upper classmen who have through this rodeo before for Kansas. The problem for Kansas is glaring though, as they really lack in depth and big men. Landon Lucas is a terrific defensive center, but on the offensive end he is only average. An early injury to fabulous freshmen Center, Udoka Azubuike, really hurt their chances. That doesn’t mean that they have no chance though. Don’t forget they have a coaching God running the show in Bill Self.
The Ducks have flat out swag. The way they play the game is so entertaining to watch. They score a lot and have one of the most enjoyable players in the country in Dillon Brooks. I like to think of Brooks as a Honey Badger, because a Honey Badger don’t care. Brooks is 6’7 forward who loves to shoot his shot. He is shooting 43.3% from 3pt land while averaging 15.4 ppg, 2.9 assists and 2.8 boards. Brooks also loves the big moment. He loves hitting big shots and that is why the Ducks can win it all this year. Brooks isn’t the only guy they have either, four other players score in double figures, including Tyler Dorsey and Dylan Ennis. Both love to shoot the three-ball too and if Brooks is having an off game, either of these two can win them a game. Big moments and big time players win March, and the Ducks have the guys to make that happen.
5. North Carolina
They were so close last year. One of the biggest shots in tournament history by Marcus Paige was followed by a bigger shot that cost UNC the championship. This year they will have a chance at redemption. They are the best rebounding team in the country and especially dominant on the offensive glass. They have great bigs and great guards. Justin Jackson, Joel Berry are the two who are able handle the ball and take over as all-around guys while Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks are able to bang down low. All four of these guys are upper-classmen so they have been there before. That will really help the Tar Heels during March
This team will go as far as Lonzo Ball takes them. Don’t get me wrong, they have spectacular players in Bryce Alford, TJ Leaf, Isaac Hamilton and Thomas Welsh but if Lonzo has a bad game, it will affect everyone else. He creates so much offense for everyone else which then in turn gets him open looks. He is averaging 7.6 assts while putting up 15.4 ppg and 6.1 rebounds at the point guard position. If he struggles then March could end quickly for UCLA, but if he thrives they can win the whole thing. In a lot of ways this team is like Oregon, a whole lot of swagger, but not a lot of room for error.
At the beginning of the year I thought the Blue Devils were a lock to win it all. The season has been long for Duke though losing players to injuries, coach K being out for a while and having Grayson Allen problems. Now, everyone is back though and that leaves Duke with a chance to get the title that a lot of people expected from them at the beginning of the season. Having so many problems has actually forced some other players to step up for the Blue Devils. Now introducing Luke Kennard. Kennard is a scoring God. He holds the record for most points scored in high school in the state of Ohio, more than Lebron James and that is saying something. He is proving this year that he wasn’t a high school fluke either. He is averaging 20 ppg on a team with 5 or 6 other future NBA players. If they can come together, watch out, these guys are dangerous.
Teams that are highly ranked but don’t believe will win it all:
Florida State Seminoles