Tomorrow is the start of the most wonderful time of the year. Over the next few weeks fans will salivate over their brackets as they watch their upsets and Cinderella teams advance in March. This year’s tournament is a strong and deep field, and every match up will be exciting to watch. Last year, Grayson Allen came out of nowhere to help Duke win another National Championship. Will we see another big run by Duke, or a first for Gonzaga? We are only hours away from finding out.
This past Sunday, we officially launched Crossroads Sports with our NCAA Selection Show Special. In case you didn’t get a chance to check our show, below are my Final Four picks.
East Region: Duke
Duke comes into the NCAA tournament red hot, after winning another ACC Tournament Championship. Coming into the year the hype was around Grayson Allen, but we have seen Luke Kennard light up the scoreboard throughout the season. I consider Duke’s path the Final Four one of the easiest. Their toughest test would be from a potential match up with 2016 Champion Villanova. If this match up comes true, I think it could be one of the most memorable NCAA Tournament games in history. I think the combination of Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard and Jayson Tatum will be tough to compete with. Add in Amile Jefferson and Harry Giles on the interior, and the Blue Devils are hard to beat.
Midwest Region: Kansas
Although they will have a difficult road to get to this year’s Final Four, I think the Jayhawks will avoid the landmines and find their way to Glendale. The team is led by Senior Guard Frank Mason, who is a Player of the Year Candidate. They also have Josh Jackson, a player that can play and guard four positions on the court. While defense has not been a strength for the Jayhawks this season, they are loaded with talent and will work their way through every match up.
West Region: Arizona
The Final Four finally returns back to the West Coast, which means there has to a be a West Coast presence, right?! Sean Miller has been to the Elite Eight four times, but has not been able to crack through. This year, everything changes. The Wildcats have elite talent, led by Lauri Markkanen, who I have on my “Stud List” for this year’s tournament. Markkanen is among the best players in this year’s tournament, and he is a deadly scoring threat both inside and out, making him hard to match up with. I like what I saw from Arizona against Oregon in their conference tournament championship game, and I think the Wildcats ride their momentum all the way to Glendale. After all, it would essentially be a home game in the Final Four for them, so why not?
South Region: UCLA
This one is simple: Ball or Fall. At least that’s what UCLA star Lonzo Ball’s father says about Lonzo’s style of play. With six players averaging over 10 points per game this season, UCLA is a dangerous team offensively. That is why I like UCLA to go the distance. Not only will they make it to the Final Four, but they will end up as the 2017 National Champions. This tournament is driven by premier guards, and Lonzo Ball is the cream of the crop in that category. The only thing that scares me is their ability to play solid defense, but this year, I think offense will be the story line. If you haven’t had enough of LaVar Ball’s antics yet, just wait until his son make the Final Four.
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