TCT’s Staff Predictions for March Madness 2016
March 15, 2016
As March Madness gets into full swing, The Central Trend’s bracket competition has begun, as have countless others. Still deciding who you think is going all the way? TCT has you covered with our staff’s top picks for the champion.
Caroline Kuiper: University of North Carolina
Let’s talk basketball. Specifically, let’s talk NCAA March Madness. Every year, teams battle to get from the first round all the way to the finals and to take the title; and this year, UNC is going to come out on top.
The Tarheels really have everything going for them. To begin with, they have pretty much the best foundation anyone could hope for. They have appeared in the NCAA finals nine times, have participated in a record 18 NCAA Final Fours, have made it into the NCAA tournament 44 times (second-most all-time), and have amassed a total of 109 victories (second most all-time). Additionally, the team has been the number one seed in the NCAA Tournament 15 times (most #1 seeds all-time).
Along with having one of the most storied programs in the country, they are able to back up stats of the past with their exceptional performance this year. With a 28-6 record to boast, UNC finished the regular season with the 3 ranking in the AP Poll, making them one of the most elite teams on any court anywhere. UNC is also the reigning champion of one of the toughest basketball conferences in the country: the ACC. Beating strong teams like Virginia and archrival Duke for the championship only fueled their fire, and going out on the March Madness court they will be hungry for more.
With standouts like First Team All American Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige along with respected head coach Roy Williams (in his 13th season) at the helm, there is no way UNC is going to sit idly by in this tournament. Carrying a coveted 1 seed in the East, UNC is going all in, and they are going to the end.
Jordan George: Michigan State
I know what you are thinking, that I only think MSU will win it all because I am a home-town spartan fan. While I am a State fan, the thing is, I truly think that Michigan State is the best team in the country. They have held the #1 ranking this year and are the first team ever to have 29 wins to not be a one seed. State will win the National Championship this year because of their tournament draw, exceptional talent, and coaching.
Tournament Draw: State has undoubtedly the easiest path to the Final Four. There was a lot of outrage about State being snubbed of a #1 seed, but honestly, being a number 2 seed in the Midwest bracket is a much better situation than being a #1 in any other bracket. For example, the West bracket is absolutely stacked with Kansas at the top, The East is crowded as well, with Indiana, North Carolina, and Kentucky all in the mix. State is sitting pretty at #2 in the Midwest, will have an intriguing Sweet 16 game versus Seton Hall, and if it comes down to it, will knock out Virginia for the third straight year in the Elite 8. From there, their opponent will be a mystery because the East is packed. They could face North Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana, or West Virginia, and by that point, State will have so much confidence and momentum that they will simply not be beat.
Talent: You hear commentators always talk about guard play being vital in the NCAA tournament, and State sure does have it. Denzel Valentine is arguably the best player in the country and will rival Buddy Hield for the Wooden Award. Valentine makes this team go and is legitimately capable of having a triple double any night. If he continues to be the floor general and Bryn Forbes continues his year as the best 3 pt shooter in the country, it is hard to pick against them based simply on their guard play alone. Add in Freshman Matt McQuaid and players like Alvin Ellis and TumTum Nairn, and the Spartans are as deep at the guard spot as anyone. In the front court, the eye-catching play of Muskegon product Deyonta Davis (still haven’t gotten over that regional game yet) has obviously been the headline of the year. His athleticism and length are unparalleled by most teams around the country, but the overlooked aspect of the MSU frontcourt is veteran Matt Costello, who has progressed into one of the best big men in the Big Ten. State’s major advantage this year is depth, and they can bring multiple effective players off the bench, which will be key to their run to a championship.
Coaching: With Tom Izzo most likely heading the the basketball hall of fame in the next few years, very few coaches around the country have the experience, success, and dedication that he has. His recruiting efforts landed him Deyonta Davis, and his exceptional game management has landed him in March once again. Izzo always has the uncanny ability to really get the most out of his players once March comes around. After winning the Big Ten tournament championship, the momentum is certainly on his side.
All in all, the Michigan State Spartans are my surefire pick to win the NCAA tournament. They have the players, experience, momentum, coaching, and tournament draw to do it. Look for the Spartans to be holding up the tournament trophy on April 4 in Houston.
Mackenzie Yob: Duke
Duke enters the 2016 NCAA Tournament in a peculiar situation. The Blue Devils have demonstrated the ability to play with and even beat some of the nation’s best teams. The win at North Carolina, the home win over Virginia (the two finalists in the ACC Tournament) and the home court domination of Big Ten champion Indiana – all provide evidence that Duke can compete with anybody. IF this isn’t enough to convince you Grayson Allen is. The Sophomore guard averaged 21.6PPG, on a 41.7 3P%. He has the pure ability to score the basketball and accompanied with Brandon Ingram these two have the ability to take over games.
When Duke is hot, they’re on fire, they have the fifth most efficient offense in the country with incredible ball movement and unselfish play. Ingram’s size and versatility make him an almost impossible matchup. And Allen, has experienced tournament pressure before and proved his ability to make big plays like he did in February against Virginia, hitting the game-winner as the clock expired.
Another aspect of Duke you can’t ignore is their coach, Mike Krzyzewski. He has coached a team to 12 final fours and 5 championships and has over 1000 career wins to his name. In other words he’s done this before. The main concern for Duke is their depth but I’m confident a coach as good as Coach K can manage his players.
Although the Duke Blue Devils went 23-10 this year they cannot be ignored. The Blue Devils don’t have their usual high seed, but they’re still Duke and they are the reigning champs, and they will surprise everyone by having back to back championships.
Ally Stapleton: Yale
When the Yale Bulldogs take the court on Thursday, it’ll be their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1962. They will take on the Baylor Bears, who are seeded 5th and make regular appearances in the March Madness frenzy. I can’t think of a better stage for the epic upset that will unfold than the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. The venue for this game sets the tone for all the bracket-shattering that will occur when the final buzzer sounds and Yale walks off the court victorious. Forget about dunkin donuts: get ready for some dunking bulldogs.
Why is Yale the clear winner in this first-round matchup? Two words: Ivy League. Not to insult your bracket, but it’s almost comical that anyone could even think of another team winning it all with an academic powerhouse like Yale in the mix. Yale’s acceptance rate is 6%. How many times have they been to the NCAA tournament? 6. Coincidence? I think not. (Also worth noting: Yale has 2 All-Ivy athletes. 6×2 is 12. What is Yale seeded? 12. I could go on, but suffice it to say that the numbers don’t lie.) These guys are clearly the smartest ones in the entire tournament, and as everyone knows, skill in the classroom translates flawlessly to skill on the basketball court. Baylor doesn’t stand a chance when Yale’s players are probably able to mentally calculate the force, direction, and torque of the ball each time they dribble. Nor does anyone else. Basketball is a mental game, and Yale has the mental game to dominate the entire tournament and win it all.
With their 54-year hiatus from the tournament, the Bulldogs are fresh and ready to take on the entire bracket. If you don’t have Yale going all the way, you can kiss your hopes of winning any bracket competition goodbye.
Breezy Wetherbee: The University of Hawai’i
On Friday, March 18th, NCAA basketball watchers will be left to pick up the pieces as the school from Honolulu stuns with the upset. Their opponent, The University of California, a school that is also familiar with warm weather, will be quite shocked once they are defeated by a basketball team coming from the coast of Hawaii. This will not, however, be surprising to me as I can see the potential that the University of Hawaii possesses. To begin, I would imagine that amidst the high temperatures that the basketball players must practice under, the conditions of the weather in California, where their first game will be held, will be just the right amount of refreshment for these island players. The Rainbow Warriors have a unique location in which they practice, which I am confident is an attributing factor to their success thus far. The cool breeze coming from the Pacific Ocean is the perfect mixture of refreshment and motivation to really kick the Rainbow Warriors into high gear.
Furthermore, the Hawaiian players have an advantage over their opponents simply by the way they maintain their hydration. Coconuts are a large cash crop throughout the islands of Hawaii. One of the major uses of coconuts is to produce coconut water, a highly nutritious and rather delicious tropical drink. Coconut water is the beverage of choice for the Rainbow Warriors basketball team, a much more nutritious option compared to Gatorade. This specific reason alone is enough to distance this basketball team, giving them the upper hand.
It is clear to see the advantage for this much anticipated game truly lies in the Rainbow Warriors court. The laid back island vibe that this team exudes will be their greatest weapon. While the Cal players and coaches are preparing for a rather easy game, the University of Hawaii will be able to surf right past them, easily clinching the W. As most watch in disbelief, I will be quite comfortable sipping my coconut water while watching all the points this 91st-ranked team racks up, upsetting their opposition left and right.
Karisah Martin: Fresno State
The formula for predicting the Super Bowl winner is simple. Well, as simple as any mathematical equation can be. It involves a mere three steps, simply calculating the magnitude and velocity of the teams statistics and dividing it by the team’s uniform, how big the players muscles are, and their basketball court. This simple formula that I have derived is known by the name of The Vectorial Density Law of Probablity. By utilizing my formula and taking all of my statistics into account, I have come to the consensus that Fresno State will ultimately come home with the win.
Before calculating their chance of winning, I took a look at their uniform. I feel as if the red and white of their jerseys really bring out each player’s eyes. The red reflects off of Nate Grime’s iris and perfectly captures the brown in his eyes. While sprinting across the court, he seems to resemble a Hollister model, his eyes seeming to catch the eyes of every female fan and sending them into a frenzy.
Next comes their muscle size. I admit, this score seemed to drag their final score down a bit, but cut them some slack. After all, they live in California. They have more important things to do than lifting weights, like laying out on the beaches and working on their tans or going celebrity hunting in Beverly Hills. Besides, muscle equals fat. In California, everyone wants to be as slim as possible, getting liposuction at least once a week. Working out will only make them fatter, and in California, that’s a big no-no. The bulldogs actually care about their health; instead of doing bench presses, you can find them at a cafe sipping their low-fat water and counting the calories of their salad.
Last but not least comes their school. It is beautiful and selfie-approved. Every inch of the basketball court proves for an amazing #selfie, it is said to be sacred. The legend goes that everyone to take a picture in the gym gets at least 500 likes. All in all, I give Fresno State a 10/10. So, for March Madness, I will be body painting and even pounding the coffee table for an added dramatic effect if they miss a 4 pointer. Even if they don’t win- hey- at least their uniforms are cute! And that’s all that matters anyway. Go Bulldogs!