By Pete Ruden
Last Last year, we did a similar PCP in which we predicted an NCAA champion when the Final Four rolled around. I chose North Carolina and won.
So it’s time for me to defend my title. After all the madness that has already taken place, Villanova is going to win a national title this year.
The only teams that could come close to challenging the Wildcats are Kansas, Duke, and Purdue. But all of those things have something in common: They have been plagued by inconsistency throughout the season.
Kansas is not as good as Kansas usually is. Although I don’t see it happening, Duke could somehow blow its chance and lose to Syracuse, just as the Blue Devils did against Lehigh and Mercer in the past. Purdue is certainly capable of playing some great basketball, evidenced by the 19-game winning streak it went on earlier this season, but the Boilermakers can also lose their magic just as fast; they went on a three-game skid right after the big streak.
Villanova currently has six players averaging in double figures, so they can spread the ball around, and each one can get the job done on any given night. None of those three teams can say the same.
Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges are too talented on the offensive end to lose in this tournament.
Sure the Wildcats have lost some games against some questionable opponents at times, but when it’s all said and done, Jay Wright is going to have another ring on his finger.
By Anna Kayser
As long as Grayson Allen stops tripping over his ego (no pun intended … OK, maybe a little), the Blue Devils could have a shot at a national title very soon.
I’ll be honest — in my mind, there’s no way they get past Villanova to get into the finals in the first place. However, a 16 seed beat the 1 seed in the South, so anything is possible.
Into the logistics. Entering the tournament, Duke was the only team with top-10 rankings in both offense and defense, by Ken Pomeroy. That top-10 ranking is started by the first five guys on the floor each night. Allen, the only senior on the roster, is accompanied by four freshmen at tip-off. There are only three upperclassmen on the team, total.
Duke is a young team, with inexperience — especially on college basketball’s biggest stage — and that could prove to be the difference, even under the direction of a thousand-plus-game-winning coach.
Despite the outcome of this year’s madness, one thing is for sure. The young Blue Devils could be tough to beat in upcoming years.