March Madness, a tournament like none other. Upsets, buzzer beaters, incredible comebacks and unthinkable dunks are just a few things we are used to seeing in this tournament year after year, and this year has not disappointed. We are now down to the Final Four with Michigan State, Texas Tech, Virginia, and Auburn remaining. I would be lying if I said my bracket is looking good. I had none of these four teams making it to the Final Four and predicted Texas Tech to lose in the second round of the tournament. Some fans have been mentioning that it has not been a great tournament as the majority of the favourites won their first and second round games. I tend to disagree as this made for fantastic Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight matchups. Two of the Elite matchups went into overtime and in the other two games the winners won by only one point and six points. Not only were the games extremely close, but we saw some of the best quality of basketball we have seen all tournament long.
As people filled out their brackets the most popular championship matchup seemed to be Duke versus North Carolina, which would have been the most exiting matchup we could have asked for given the intense rivalry between both teams. Duke got upset by Michigan Sate this passed Sunday 68-67 in a back-and-forth game, while North Carolina lost to Auburn in the Sweet Sixteen 97-80. As we know, Duke was quite a heavy favourite going into the tournament, but they did not get much help from their role players as it was Williamson and Barrett carrying most of the load. Gonzaga was also a popular pick to go to the Final Four, but as usual the fell short of expectations. It feels as though every year we say this is going to be there year, but for some reason they just cannot seem to get over the hump.
Time to break down the final four teams left in the tournament. The easy pick to win it all would be Virginia. They have the country’s best defense, they are well coached, and they have arguably had the strongest team on paper throughout the entire season. For some reason I do not trust this team. I feel like they are missing something. As much as it is a team sport, I feel like every team needs at least one superstar and I do not see one on this team. Now for their opponent; Auburn. This is hands down the most fun team to watch in the country. They are like watching a hurry up offense in football. They only have one thing on their mind and that is to play fast, fast, and faster. There is no team in the country that plays like them. I worry only about their defense. Texas Tech is similar to Virginia in that they pride themselves on their defense. They completely shut down Michigan who simply could not buy a basket against them. I worry about their offense though. Can they keep winning games while only putting up 60 points? Finally, Michigan State. Many experts thought they should have been a one seed and I understand why. They are not a very flashy team, but they play smart and find ways to win even when they are not on their A game.
Now for some predictions. I think Michigan State beats Texas Tech as I just do not see the Red Raiders being able to put up enough points. I think it will be a closer game than people think though. In the second Final Four matchup I am going to go with the upset. Gimme Auburn to beat Virginia in a game where not many people seem to be giving the Tigers a chance. I also like Auburn to beat Michigan State in the championship game to win their first ever title. This team is too fast and Bruce Pearl has them playing at an elite level. Either way, we are set for a fantastic three remaining games.
(Awesomely named unpaid intern)
April 3rd 2019