It is that time of the year again. It is a month-long event of monstrous proportions. This is one of the few times of the year where the majority of the population turns their televisions to one event. 68 teams, across six different venues and three different time zones, all locked in an epic struggle against one another for glory on the biggest stage in college basketball. I am, of course, referring to March Madness. Even before the selections were announced on Sunday, people across Adrian were scrambling to get into pools for their brackets, some relying on expert’s picks and predictions, some relying on their gut or picking their favorite team that made the tournament. I believe that the Michigan State Spartans stand the best chance to win the title this year.
I know that people will ask why not Louisville, last year’s victor over Michigan. I say Louisville will not repeat because it is not likely that, with the relatively leveled playing field of the tournament, the Cardinals can bust through and win their second straight title. Since 1990, only two teams have ever repeated as champions. Duke did it in 1991 and 1992, and the Gators themselves did it in 2006 and 2007. The odds for the tournament are not in the Cardinals favor, so I give them a very low chance of repeating.
If you are wondering about the Wichita State Shockers, well I’m getting to them. I say they will be a letdown in this tournament, because I have them getting eliminated in the round of 32 by Kentucky. Before you ask, yes, I do know what they pulled off last year, the Cinderella run all the way to the Final Four before being knocked off by Louisville. This time, however, all the big name teams know just what the Shockers are capable of, and will be better prepared to fend off the Wichita State onslaught.
Some may say that I am being harsh, especially those that know that my bracket was torn to shreds by the Shockers run, but last year, once I was out, I actually was rooting them on, so there are no hard feelings. At the most, I see Wichita making it to the Elite Eight before the Duke Blue Devils eliminate them. I say that isn’t likely, due to the fact that, in my bracket, they have to get past Kentucky and Louisville in successive rounds, and that, I think, is just too much to overcome.
Now, finally for my national championship pick. I believe that the Michigan State Spartans stand the best chance to win the title this year. The reason is very simple; most of the nation has counted out the Spartans, due to what appears to be a down year for them. But that is only in appearance. MSU enters the tournament as a #4 seed, which is still excellent. Also, for close to the first time all year, the Spartans have their entire starting five healthy and ready to go. With Coach Izzo at the helm of a fully healthy Spartan lineup, I have State rolling past Delaware, inching out wins over Cincinnati and Virginia, and probably being forced to overtime against Villanova before moving on. From there, they pull off a comeback over the number one team in the nation, the Florida Gators, and defeat the Arizona Wildcats in the National Championship. It was close, but I am predicting a 75-69 victory, giving Coach Izzo his second championship in his tenure at Michigan State.
Time will tell if my picks are right or way off base. All I know is that the emotions of everyone here at Adrian are going to be riding on the talent and lucky of these 68 teams, and, win or lose, I cannot wait to see the results.