Michelle Berthiaume

Sports Editor



With Duke coming off an early exit from the ACC tournament with a loss to Maryland, look out for them in the NCAA tournament. A team full of strong competitors guided by their fearless leader, Coach K, this team could make a very deep run into the tournament. With three strong seniors leading the way for the Blue Devils (Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly) a deep tournament run is more than expected. But an upset prone Duke team could fall to solid Michigan State University team in the third round (granted the Spartans make it that far). Don’t ever count a Tom Izzo coached team out of making a run at the national championship.

Biggest upset in the West bracket: Oregon over Oklahoma State. According to an article on SI.com, the number 12 seed has defeated the number five seed a total of 35 times since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1988. The 12 over five upset is probably the most common upset in the tournament. With that being said, you have to expect that at least one 12 seed will shock the country in March this season.

I picked the Oregon Ducks to be that upset minded team in the Midwest bracket. At the end of the season, Oregon was ranked 25 in the Associated Press poll while Oklahoma State sits at only number 17. Although rankings mean nothing in mid-March, it’s certainly interesting to think that Oregon could make a splash in the Midwest.



Final Four Bracket

Final Four Bracket

I don’t think many people consider Gonzaga to be a huge threat in the tournament. But with an Associated Press top 25 poll that has featured a multitude of teams atop the rankings, it’s no surprise that Gonzaga could make a deep run into the tournament. At least not to me anyway. With a strong seven-footer in Kelly Olynyk, averaging 26 minutes, 18 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, the Zags could be the team to beat in the West bracket. But with strong competition in a good two seed in the Ohio State Buckeyes, it will be no easy road to the Final Four in Atlanta.

The Buckeyes will certainly stir up the bottom half of the bracket, coming off a huge win in the Big Ten championship over a hot Wisconsin team that had just defeated a previous number one team in Indiana. Ohio State has a strong presence in the front court with Deshaun Thomas, who led the Buckeyes in the Big Ten championship with 17 points. As a junior, Thomas brings leadership to a team that will need all they can get. Also, Aaron Craft proved his versatility as a strong guard this season, averaging ten points and four rebounds per game. Craft, another junior on the Buckeyes squad, will also provide leadership.

Look out for Kansas State as well, another team that could stir up this Western bracket. In the Big 12 Championship, they fell short of upsetting a strong Kansas team, 70-54. But K-State could certainly drop some jaws in the third round when they will probably face off against Gonzaga.


I think most will be surprised at my picks for the Southern region. I stuck with the team I picked as the strongest competitor in the preseason, the Michigan Wolverines. The Wolverines started off the season red hot with 18 straight wins. Their first loss of the season was at the hands of a very talented Ohio State squad. With striking comparisons to the “Fab Five” of the 1990s, it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to me if Michigan ended up in the Final Four.

But the Southern Region will not be an easy region to advance in (not that any of them are easy this year). The Kansas Jayhawks are known for their ability to make deep runs in the tournament. Last year, they fell to a stellar Kentucky Wildcats squad in the National Championship, 67-59. With a bitter taste in their mouth, I expect the Jayhawks to play good March basketball.  Freshman Ben McLemore has proved his worth this season, averaging 16.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. McLemore helped the Kansas Jayhawks secure a number one spot in the tournament. But can he put the team on his back and carry them deep into the tournament? Only time will tell.

Another team that has strong potential to do damage in the South Region is the Georgetown Hoyas. Coming off a disappointing loss to the Syracuse Orange in the Big East tournament, I expect to see a strong showing from the Hoyas come tournament time. Overall, I think the South is the toughest region in the tournament this year.


Last but not least, the East Region. Featuring a few former number one teams this season, advancing in the East will not be an easy task. Indiana, Syracuse and Miami can all make strong arguments for a Final Four bid this year.

Indiana had a spectacular first half of their season. Currently sitting at number four on the AP top 25 poll, the Hoosiers won 20 of their first 25 games this season. They spent most of the top half of the season ranked number one in the country. Getting a strong spark from Junior Victor Oladipo near the end of the season, Indiana will be a tough opponent for anyone who encounters them. Also, expect sophomore Cody Zeller to have a strong showing in the tournament.

Syracuse can also make a strong case for a National title this year. But with a rough second half of the season, they need to make some adjustments and they need to make them now. Dropping eight of their last 16 games, the Orange are certainly not at their best right now. But some teams show their true colors in March, and the color of this year’s tournament could be orange.

Don’t look past the Miami Hurricanes in the East Region. They are not a team that should be overlooked. They had a great first half of the year and truly proved that they are one of the best teams in the country. They finished the year at 27-6 and 15-3 in the ACC, arguably the NCAA’s toughest conference. This years tournament will be one to remember.

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