March Madness has been active for two weeks in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (also known as the NCAA), and there are only four teams remaining.
Saturday, April 1 marks the start of the Final Four. On Monday night, the 2017 national champion will be crowned.
The Villanova Wildcats, last year’s champion, was dethroned in the second round, so we are guaranteed to see a new team raising the trophy. I will provide my picks for the final three games of the tournament and predict the 2017 national champion.
On one side of the bracket right now, we have two number-one seeds remaining: the Gonzaga Bulldogs and Kansas Jayhawks. Gonzaga is having arguably their best season in school history with only one loss on the year coming in their final regular season game, despite having a scare in the Sweet 16 matchups against the West Virginia Mountaineers.
Gonzaga point guard Nigel Williams-Goss is building on his great season with an even better tournament, leading his team in assists and second half scoring.
At the centre position, the Bulldogs also have Przemek Karnowski, who is the biggest player in the tournament at seven-foot-one and 260 pounds.
Gonzaga is playing the underdog team of the tournament, the Xavier Musketeers. Xavier is an 11th-seeded team, and if the Musketeers can win, they would book their ticket to the Final 4 for the first time in school history.
Kansas has been by far the most dominant team in the tournament after three games, and they are living up to their top seed. The Jayhawks have won each game by at least 30 points, and each second-half contest has been a one-sided affair.
Jayhawks point guard Frank Mason III leads the team in points and assists and is in contention to win the NCAA’s Naismith Player of the Year Award.
Kansas will do battle with the third-ranked Oregon Ducks to see who will head to Arizona for the Final Four, and the Jayhawks enter the game as heavy favourites.
The other bracket is more wide open, with the North Carolina Tar Heels, a number-one seed, facing the second-place Kentucky Wildcats. The other side has the South Carolina Gamecocks against the Florida Gators.
North Carolina tends to let teams back into games after having a lead, and they will need to buck this trend to stop Kentucky. Wildcats coach John Calipari is the highest paid bench boss in the league, and he has great systems and plans to give even the greatest of teams trouble.
There are no real stars on either squad, so it will be a team effort for either one to win the title.
South Carolina has also been a Cinderella story of sorts by defeating the Duke Blue Devils in the second round, then downing the Baylor Bears quite easily in the second round.
Florida is a fourth-seed, and they beat the Wisconsin Badgers in overtime in the Sweet 16. The Gators will look to make the Final Four for the second time in three years.
My Final Four picks are Gonzaga, Kansas, North Carolina and South Carolina, which means three top seeds in the Final Four. I predict Kansas will defeat Gonzaga, then face North Carolina in the final and cut the nets on April 3.