It’s called March Madness for a reason. There is always room for the brash and bold to make predictions during the NCAA Tournament. We’re not just talking about picking one or two lower seeds to pull off a first round upset. This is more about the predictions for the entire tournament. Like picking all four No. 1 seeds to make the Final Four in 2008. Or thinking Butler basketball would make the NCAA Title game in back to back years. Or predicting that No. 7 UCONN would beat No. 8 Kentucky in the 2014 NCAA Championship game. Predictions like that are what you’ll find here.
5. Cinderella Belmont
Almost every year, there’s at least one team that goes deeper than anyone expected. Think George Mason in 2006 or Loyola-Chicago last year. There are plenty of teams with the chance to pull that off this year, but we think the Belmont Bruins might be at the top of that list. A lot of people seem to be overlooking them since they were part of the “First Four” game. However, this an efficient and unselfish bunch. Their first game benefits them due to how little they turn the ball over compared to their opponents, Maryland. A win there leads to a favorable match against either LSU or Yale that would propel Belmont into the Sweet Sixteen.
4. Villanova Does It Again
In 2016, the Villanova Wildcats won the national title on an incredible game-winning shot. After missing out in 2017, they won it all again last year. Nobody seems to be picking them this year due to regular season struggles and they enter the tournament as a No. 6 seed. But what if they do it again? The top threats in their region are a Virginia squad that lost to a No. 16 last year and a Tennessee team that was an underappreciated No. 1 for most of the season. Villanova has a ton of experience, with versatile seniors all over the court. Those teams tend to do better than teams filled with talent ready to enter the NBA Draft in a few months. Three titles in four years would be almost unheard of and would honestly vault Jay Wright into the upper echelon of all-time college coaches.
3. Two No. 1 Seeds Don’t Make It Past Opening Weekend
The first weekend of the NCAA Tournament narrows things down from 68 teams to 16. Usually, we expect the four No. 1 seeds to be in contention past that first weekend. We’re here to say that at least half of those top teams lose in the round of 32. Gonzaga is an efficient offensive team, but a potential battle with Syracuse could cause problems. Syracuse has made a habit of turning mediocre regular seasons into multiple tournament wins. On the other side, North Carolina is a heavy favorite that could find serious trouble with a red hot Utah State team.
2. All ACC Final Four
If the previous prediction doesn’t happen, this one might. Three of the four No. 1 seeds are from the ACC. In the event Duke, UNC, and Virginia all make it to the Final Four, that leaves one spot open. That West region features teams like Gonzaga, Texas Tech, and Michigan. There’s also that pesky No. 4, Florida State. They could surprise everyone and find themselves in that Final Four. That would give us one of the rarest possible things, as all four teams would be from the same conference.
1. All No. 7’s Make The Elite Eight
Yes, we fully understand how wild this one sounds. Take a closer look at the four teams with a No. 7 seed. First, there’s Louisville. A program so successful that a win over Michigan State in the round of 32 wouldn’t be a stunner. There’s also Cincinnati, who is a defensive juggernaut. They say “defense wins championships” for a reason. Wins over Tennessee and Villanova, for example, wouldn’t be out of the question. Another No. 7 is a Nevada squad that made the Sweet Sixteen last year. Finally, there’s also Wofford who has a great chance of beating teams like Kentucky and Houston. There may not be a great chance of this happening, but it’s not out of the question.