With Selection Sunday right around the corner, league tournaments started up on Wednesday and the question still hangs in the balance: who will prevail as March Madness champions? These are the top contenders to take it all.
Duke Blue Devils- Duke has been the most difficult team to beat throughout the season. With the athleticism of Zion Williamson, the playmaking and driving capabilities of R.J. Barrett, and a knockdown shooter such as Cam Reddish, Duke looked unstoppable to start the season after domination Kentucky 118-84. They finished the season 26-5, 14-4 in ACC play. After Zion blew his foot out of his shoe and sprained his knee, Duke struggles began. Going 3-3 after his departure has really changed the possible outcome in the March Madness bracket. The Blue Devils ended up winning their conference championship against the Florida State Seminoles to take home the trophy, and the overall #1 in the NCAA tournament.
Kentucky Wildcats- After a 118-84 tough loss to Duke, Kentucky fans were worried about what would happen the rest of the season. But the Cats play boosted the fans hopes up. The play of freshman Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro, along with sophomore team captain PJ Washington and grad transfer Reid Travis, the Wildcats turned from what looked like a rough season to one we won’t forget. Kentucky ended up 26-5, 15-3 in conference play. Kentucky ended tournament play after losing to Tennessee in the semi-final game. They are a #2 seed in the Midwest region, set to take on Abilene Christian on Thursday.
North Carolina Tar Heels- North Carolina has been very surprising ever since the start of NCAA play. With the senior play of Luke Maye, Kenny Williams and Cam Johnson, along with freshman guard play of Coby White, the Tar Heels became a scary team. With strong wins against Duke and multiple other top 25 wins, North Carolina earned the overall #3 seed in the tournament. North Carolina tips off March Madness with the first round game against Iona.
Tennessee Volunteers- Tennessee ended the season as the most surprising team in all of college sports. Rick Barnes turned Tennessee from one of the worst teams in the SEC to one of the best in just two seasons. With 2 time SEC player of the year Grant Williams, they were led by leadership. Not a single freshman scored a point this season for the volunteers. Tennessee finished the season 29-5, 15-3 in conference play as they lost in the SEC championship to Auburn. Tennessee opens up as the #2 seed in the South region, taking on Colgate.
Michigan State Spartans- Tom Izzo’s Spartans season has been a roller coaster. From sweeping Michigan in all 3 games to getting swept by Indiana (who didn’t make the NCAA tournament) in 2 games, they, however, have star talent with player of the year candidates Cassius Winston and Nick Ward, the Spartans were the team to beat in the Big 10. Former 5 Star Recruit Joshua Langford has been ruled out for the Spartans for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. Michigan State finished the season 29-6 and won the Big 10 championship. They open up the tournament as a 2 seed and will face Bradley Thursday afternoon.
Virginia Cavaliers- The Cavaliers are led purely off of leadership such as players like Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, and Deandre Hunter. After being embarrassed by UMBC, being the first #16 seed to beat a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Cavaliers didn’t know what to expect this season but have proven to be worthy enough to win the NCAA championship. Virginia finished the regular season 29-3 and is the #2 overall 1 seed in the tournament.