By Derek Staples
The odds of predicting an entire March Madness bracket correctly is slim to none. Dr. Jeff Bergen, a professor at DePaul University recently estimated the probability of a perfect bracket for someone who “knows basketball” as 1 in 128 billion, which is far from encouraging, but for most, the goal is not to be perfect, but to have the best bracket out of all of your buddies. Even this is a challenge, seeing as March is the most unpredictable month in all of sports. More often than not, the so- called “experts” on ESPN end up being way off in their predictions. Over the years, we’ve seen an 11- seed George Mason team knock off a 1- seed UConn squad in 2006, the 15 seed Richmond Spiders shocked number two seed Syracuse in 1991,and small- school teams like Butler and Davidson surprise the nation in the tournament year in and year out. Now, I wouldn’t be naive enough to proclaim myself as an expert (or anyone, for that matter) on March Madness because the tournament is about as predictable as the New England weather. But here’s a list of my projected Final Four teams that will battle through this tourney and make it to Atlanta:
1-Seed Louisville- The Cardinals are anchored by a seasoned veteran coach, Rick Pitino. Strong leadership cannot be overstated in the hectic weeks of March, which will be coupled with strong veteran presence on the court as well. Gorgui Dieng, Peyton Siva, and Russ Smith will lead Louisville to their first Final Four appearance since 2005.
2- Seed Ohio State- The West quadrant of the bracket is the weakest of them all, with 1- seed Gonzaga failing to strike fear into the hearts of opponents like the other 1- seeds. As for the Buckeyes, they have a strong nucleus of players who have been playing together for roughly two seasons now, minus Jared Sullinger. Ohio State will coast into the Final Four relatively untested and will threaten for the championship.
3- Seed Michigan- Michigan is the definition of a streaky team. When they’re on, they’re tough to beat, but when their off their game, they can be shockingly bad. Unlike my other two Final Four teams, the Wolverines are young and relatively unproven. With that said, they are a risky pick to make it to Atlanta, but their potential to stroke threes will be scary for the rest of the field.
1 – Seed Indiana- Indiana is the most complete team in the NCAA. They have a deep bench, they are coming into the tournament hot, and they have one of the top performers in college basketball, Victor Oladipo. They are the safest bet to reach the Final Four out of these four teams, but there is no such thing as a sure bet in March Madness.