Michael Pellegrino Staff Writer
Soon, our country will be taken over for one glorious month of competition, with the NCAA tournament upon us. With this year’s field as wide-open as ever, expect upsets, close games, and future NBA stars, all culminating on April 8th in Minneapolis to crown one champion.
1) Duke Blue Devils- A blue-blood of college basketball, Duke is always a favorite every year in the tournament. The Blue Devils are loaded with potential NBA talent, from projected top pick Zion Williamson to RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish. The brilliance of Coach Mike Krzyzewski is something that can lead to another title for Duke, however, one of the big questions is the health of Zion Williamson. During the UNC-Duke game, his shoe ended up breaking open, leading to him slipping and suffering a sprained knee. If he can stay as healthy as possible, this is a team that is favored to win it all.
2) Kentucky Wildcats- A team that is balanced, with four players averaging double figures, Kentucky is a school that has been tested all year-long, playing Duke, UNC, Kansas, and Tennessee, winning three out of those four games. This will come in handy during the tournament, with teams will constantly be throwing everything at one another in every round. Kentucky is battle-tested, balanced, and experienced, which is dangerous in March.
3) North Carolina Tar Heels- Roy Williams’ team is looking to reach its 3rd final four in the past 4 years, still with the painful loss to Villanova in the championship game of 2016 in their heads. Led by the trio of Cam Johnson, Coby White, and Luke Maye, UNC is primed for a tournament run. What scares me about UNC is their losses this season, to Michigan, Kentucky, Louisville, and Virginia, all top-tier teams. This has me wondering if they can bring their A-game against the big opponents in the tournament. Their experience should help, which makes them another team to look for going far.
4) Tennessee Volunteers- Victims of a Cinderella run of Loyola-Chicago in last year’s tournament, the Volunteers are back and ready to make a deep run. Another balanced team with five players averaging double figures, led by Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams. Tennessee started out hot but has lost a couple of road games to Kentucky and LSU. This team plays together, and they play with energy, coached by the legendary Rick Barnes, Tennessee is ready for March Madness.