Having trouble filling out your bracket? Here’s a guide that can help you win your March Madness pool.
Teams that can win it all:
Villanova: After winning the 2016 national championship, Villanova had an abrupt exit to last year’s tournament when it was upset by Wisconsin in the Round of 32. Now led by junior guard Jalen Brunson and redshirt junior forward Mikal Bridges, Jay Wright’s squad is poised for a deep run this year.
Kansas: Currently banged up, the Jayhawks’ national title hopes depend greatly on the health of sophomore center Udoka Azubuike, who injured his knee in practice last week. Still, the leadership of senior guard Devonte’ Graham and sharpshooting of redshirt sophomore guard Malik Newman and senior guard Svi Mykhailiuk should be enough to keep Kansas’ championship hopes alive until Azubuike is healthy.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels are always a threat to advance far into the tournament with head coach Roy Williams at the helm. With 10 losses this season, UNC’s resume is a bit misleading, but it has played one of the toughest schedules in the nation. The tandem of senior guard Joel Berry II and junior forward Luke Maye pose a threat to any defense in its way.
Arizona: Having not reached the Elite Eight since 2011, Arizona has fallen short of expectations in nearly every year of head coach Sean Miller’s tenure. Things may be different for the Wildcats due to the play of freshman forward DeAndre Ayton. Able to dominate on both ends of the floor, Ayton is poised to be a top-three selection in this year’s NBA draft and is capable of carrying his team far into the tournament.
Teams that could make a surprising run:
Missouri: In a position similar to Arizona’s, Missouri has a player on its roster who can single-handedly change games in freshman forward Michael Porter Jr. Coming off a back injury that sidelined him for all but one game of the regular season, Porter’s scoring ability could carry the Tigers to the Sweet 16 or further.
Texas: Freshman forward Mohamed Bamba anchors a deceptively strong Longhorns defense. Boasting a 7-foot-5-inch wingspan, Bamba’s shot-blocking ability has forced opponents to alter their game plans in the paint. Should it advance past Nevada, Texas matches up well with second-seeded Cincinnati in the Round of 32.
Oklahoma: After being the talk of college basketball in the first half of the season, almost entirely due to the play of freshman guard Trae Young, the Sooners crashed back down to Earth and then some to close the season. OU finished the year dropping eight of its last 10 games, but earned a shot at redemption by making the tournament as a bubble team. If any of its opponents don’t double-team Young, the Sooners are as explosive as any team in the tournament.
St. Bonaventure: After edging out a win against UCLA on Tuesday night, the Bonnies advanced to the second round and will face Florida on Thursday night. Winning 14 of its past 15, St. Bonaventure enters the tournament red-hot. Led by senior guards Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley, the Bonnies’ backcourt can give fits to any defense in its way.
Teams with upset potential:
South Dakota State: Earning their third consecutive tournament bid, the Jackrabbits possess one of the most potent offenses in the nation, having an offensive rating of 116.1. Led by versatile junior forward Mike Daum, SDSU’s attack will put pressure on an Ohio State team that has tended to play down to its competition.
Murray State: Making a tournament appearance for the first time in six years, the Racers enter the field with one of the most powerful trios in the field. Senior guard Jonathan Stark, senior forward Terrell Miller Jr. and freshman guard Temetrius Morant lead a small-ball attack that bodes well against West Virginia’s press defense.
New Mexico State: Making the tournament in six of the previous seven years, the Lobos have lots of experience being an underdog in the tournament. Playing on the West Coast against Clemson, an East Coast school, gives the Lobos an advantage in terms of location. Additionally, Clemson’s second-leading senior forward Donte Grantham suffered a torn ACL in January, and the Tigers posted a mediocre 6-5 record since the injury.
Stephen F. Austin: The Lumberjacks made some noise in 2016 after they beat West Virginia and nearly upset Notre Dame as a No. 14 seed. SFA was given the same seed this year and is looking for bragging rights within the state of Texas when it takes on Texas Tech. This Lumberjacks team is incredibly deep, as it has three players who average double-digit points per game.