Now that we have entered March, what some would call the best tournament in sports is right around the corner. What I am referring to, of course, is March Madness. Through the years March Madness has given us some of the most memorable moments in sports history, from University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) upsetting the number one seed Virginia in 2018 to Notre Dame winning the women’s bracket off of a buzzer beater the same year. With the tournament beginning in just a few short weeks here are some predictions of how it will all go down.


Men’s Bracket

Just about everybody with a set of eyes can see that Gonzaga is the team to beat as they are ranked #1 in the most recent men’s AP Poll. The surefire number one seed and favorite of many to win it all has had an amazing season with just a few blemishes. They will look to get back to the national championship game this year, but yield a different result from last year when they fell to Baylor University in the title game. They are led by #2 Drew Timmie 23’ and #34 Chet Holmgren 25’ who average 18.1 and 14.7 points per game respectively. Along with this they have an average scoring differential of +24.6 points per game, meaning on average they outscore their opponents by 24 to 25 points in every game. They also out-rebound, have more assists, and have less turnovers than their opponents on average. This means that they win not only on the scoreboard but in every major statistical category as well. This powerhouse of a team who is playing confidently now looks to meet expectations and win it all. 


Another major story in the tournament is that of Duke University’s head coach Mike Krzyzewski. He announced earlier in the year that this season would be his last; this of course puts Duke as one of the favorites as his final season will likely motivate his players to send him out on a high note. Many would love to see the well respected coach ride off into the sunset with another national title, however many will also want to see him go out on a loss. This would not be any Cinderella Story either, as Duke is currently projected to get a two seed and is one of the top teams in the nation. Krzyzewski’s experience leads many to believe this Duke team has a chance to win it all, especially given the stellar play of #5 Paolo Banchero 25’ and #0 Wendell Moore Jr. 23’. Duke has had a +15 point differential so far this season and could very easily make a run with Coach K’s experience and some great players leading the way. 


In addition to some favorites, there are also some teams that I believe do not deserve all of the hype. For starters, Auburn University has a chance to be the first of the potential number one or two seeds eliminated in this tournament. They have relied on winning close games and have allowed some not-so-great teams to hang around with them. If they run into a hot team in the tournament, they could easily get beat by letting a lower skilled team stay with them. They have also lost three of their last six games and two of those teams were not ranked. That paired with the fact that they have been decent at best in away games, if that. They have struggled to perform away from home and it could lead to their downfall in the neutral atmosphere of March Madness without their rousing fanbase. If Auburn ends up going into the tournament cold as they seemingly could, there is a decent chance they may fall short. Another team that could disappoint is Providence College, a relatively high ranked team currently projected to be a number four seed. They have won eleven close games (games by five or fewer points or in overtime) which is way too many for a team ranked as highly as they are. They have also played seventeen of their twenty-eight games at home as well as two at a neutral site, meaning they have only played nine away games. Similarly to Auburn, they have let bad teams hang around with them and rely on their home crowd which, in the tournament, could be lethal for any team. Once again, any hot-handed team has a shot if Providence, like Auburn, allows them to keep it close late. 


Women’s Bracket:


The women’s bracket does not have as much of a clear cut number one. University of South Carolina, Stanford University, and North Carolina State University all have potential to be the top overall seed in the tournament. South Carolina is the number one seed, with just one loss coming against the University of Missouri. They are led by #4 Aliyah Boston 23’, who leads the team in points per game, rebounds, and blocks. Her stellar stat lines throughout the season have helped the Gamecocks both offensively and defensively. This South Carolina team probably has the best chance of winning it all, as they have been dominant all year and have shown that they can beat anyone. If they can maintain their great play as a team and capitalize on their current momentum they could run through the competition and win it all. 


One number two seed that I really like this year is Baylor. While their record is less than stellar with five losses this season, four of their five losses have been to top twenty-five teams in the nation. They also repeated this year as Big Twelve champions and are currently on a nine-game winning streak. #22 NyLyssa Smith 22’ has been dominating on the floor for them by racking up points and boards. She leads the team in both categories in addition to a 55.8% field goal percentage. She has been a stud with a recent 28 point and 20 rebound game that aided the Bears in clinching the Big 12. With her ability to take over any game that she plays in, Smith could very well lead the projected number two seeded Baylor Bears to victory. 


A dark horse team not many are talking about currently is a projected number four seeded University of Iowa. Led by the current leading points per game scorer Caitlin Clark 24’, she leads women’s college basketball in not only points per game with 27.5 but also in assists with 7.9. Along with that, she averages about 8 rebounds per game which makes her one of, if not the top player in the tournament this year. With her ability to score and facilitate her teammates, Iowa has a chance to make a run. Three of their last four opponents were top ten teams in the nation, defeating all of them. They are on a hot streak and nobody wants to play a hot team in a win or go home game, especially one with their best player out there. Overall Iowa has a great chance to make their run and compete for the title.


Overall, this March Madness could be one of the best ever, especially with the fan attendance being tempered last year due to COVID. I’m sure all of us cannot wait to see what team ends up cutting down the net on April 3rd for the women’s bracket and the 4th for the men’s. The upsets and underdogs will hopefully lead to a ton of excitement and thrill this year. And remember as we are reminded every year, anything can happen in March. 

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