Staff writer Aaron Young makes his predictions for this year’s NCAA Basketball Tournament challenge
Today marks the official first round of the March Madness tournament. 64 teams will be facing off, hoping to be in the Championship game in San Antonio come April.
Upsets may happen and Cinderella stories will be in the making. Here are my bold predictions for this year’s March Madness tournament.
Stephen F. Austin and Georgia State upsets
Georgia St. can repeat what they did to Baylor yet again. They are facing a tougher and more aggressive opponent in Cincinnati, but the Bulldogs don’t back down from a fight. R.J Hunter is long gone but the coach does a great job with his players and knows their strengths. Stephen F. Austin over Texas Tech could also become a reality as well. Just like the Bulldogs in times past, they have gotten through to the next round. Also, Texas Tech has former Gophers head coach Tubby Smith who could very well face the same fate as the Gophers did.
Charleston, Rhode Island, and Providence in the Sweet 16
Charleston comes from the Colonial Athletic Conference. If you recall VCU a few years back, they made a run to the Final Four after beating Kansas. The Cougars looked impressive in conference run and could very well show the nation why they are overlooked. Rhode Island faces Oklahoma in the first round, a team many thought didn’t deserve to be in the tournament to begin with. The Rams do face Duke in the next round which will be a challenge but they may very well pull off the upset. Providence, also in the same position as the Rams, take on Texas A&M. Of course, the Friars would then take on UNC but I wouldn’t be so sure counting them out of that one.
The Big Ten will have two teams from Michigan in the Final Four
Michigan came out of the conference as Big Ten champions knocking off Purdue most noticeably. Given Providence moves into the sweet 16, Michigan would face a challenge, but the Wolverines could advance. Michigan State also could be in the Final Four as well. Tom Izzo doesn’t mess around and he is more than determined to get to the championship.
Virginia wins the ‘ship
I have Virginia winning it all. I am skeptical about the Cavaliers, but I think they have a good chance of doing so. Kentucky, if they make it, would be a tough challenger, who could take them down, but Calipari’s team seems to have lost their mojo from years past. Take Cincinnati out of the equation in the first round, and it makes Virginia’s path that much more easier.
Get the brackets filled out. Be ready for the upsets and be on the lookout for what teams will make a splash in the tournament. We will see how this year’s dance turns out and who will be cutting down the nets in San Antonio as champions.
Photo: Virginia forward Isaiah Wilkins (21) pulls down a rebound between North Carolina forward Theo Pinson (1), guard Kenny Williams (24) and forward Luke Maye (32) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game for the Atlantic Coast Conference men’s tournament title Saturday, March 10, 2018, in New York. Virginia won 71-63. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)