Most Likely NCAA Tournament Champs
Before the season started, our experts agreed: This season was all about Duke. One by one, they lined up and picked the Blue Devils. Then the drama hit. The Zags nearly ran the table, winning 29 in a row before falling in the regular-season finale. And there was Kansas, who -- go figure -- won another Big 12 title. On Sunday, when the bracket came out, Villanova, the defending champ, was back on top, claiming the No.
Oh yeah, Duke is hot again, having run the table with four straight wins to claim the ACC tournament. You currently have no favorite teams. You currently have no favorite writers.
Quickly There's no shortage of good teams in college basketball, but only so many squads have a real shot at winning it all. In keeping with SI tradition, here's a list of eight teams from which the eventual national champion will emerge, plus a breakdown of why the other top teams will fall short.
By Dan Greene February 14, Michigan State , Big Ten. Sign Up for our Newsletter Don't get stuck on the sidelines! Sign up to get exclusives, daily highlights, analysis and more—delivered right to your inbox! Email Address Enter valid email address Password.
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The Zags go nine deep with minimal drop-off when they substitute. And they're led by Nigel Williams-Goss They're also ranked second in adjusted defensive efficiency entering the NCAA tournament. Johnathan Williams , an agile 6-foot-9 forward, can guard any position, which means Gonzaga can adjust to and disrupt Villanova or Duke or Notre Dame by playing smaller when necessary.
How about going big? Think about this potential lineup: But they've never been to the Final Four. Why can't an improved Gonzaga team that made a run to the Sweet 16 last season without Karnowski -- and had a late lead over Final Four-bound Syracuse -- get more love? The Bulldogs will when they win the whole thing. Yeah, the program made history. But Northwestern over its past 12 games will struggle against Vanderbilt.
Luke Kornet is a 7-footer who made 38 percent of his 3-pointers in league play. Plus, Vandy has won seven of its last nine. This is a team that had a point lead over Kentucky two weeks ago in Rupp Arena and beat Florida twice in six days.
The Commodores are soaring. Northwestern will not enter the NCAA tournament with the same momentum. Northwestern is not alone. Slumping Wisconsin , still a victim of its own offensive droughts, will lose to Virginia Tech wins over Duke, Michigan, Miami, Virginia in the first round. Also in the first round, an experienced Xavier team will win a close game over a Maryland squad that needs major contributions from multiple freshmen making their first NCAA tournament appearances.
Without injured guard Akeem Springs 9. Those excited about Michigan 's shooting in the Big Ten tournament might not realize Oklahoma State is ranked first in adjusted offensive efficiency. Jawun Evans and the Cowboys will win that opening-round shootout. Short-handed Michigan State will fall against Bruce Brown In the second round, Iowa State, led by point guard Monte Morris