March Madness: Predicting the 1 seed for each region
As March slowly starts to approach, the world is turning its attention to the College Basketball world. If you’re just tuning in the one thing you need to know is this season has been one of the craziest ever. Kansas toppling Baylor this weekend means that we are now seeing the eighth team to be ranked number one. With the field being so tightly contested it might be easy to lose who has risen above the madness. Barring absolute chaos there are three teams who have all but secured 1 seeds, and one spot where six teams have the potential to get the call. Here are my predictions for the 1 seed in each region:
The Jayhawks currently hold the longest active streak of tournament appearances at a mind-blowing 30 straight years. This team has consistently sat in the top five all season and are playing their best basketball right now and having won 13 straight. They have five notable wins on their resume with still one ranked opponent remaining on their schedule in Texas Tech. Kansas will be the first 1 seed to be called.
Udoka Azubuike is their big play maker and potential player of the year, but they have enough talent on the floor to not have to rely on him. They shoot almost 48.7 percent from the field, while scoring an average of 75 points a game. Combine that with one of the nation’s best defenses who is holding opponents to an average of 60 points per game and 37.5 percent from the field and you have a combo that is good enough to win it all. What makes Kansas so good is they can beat you on either side of the ball. They have three remaining games.
This season marked the first time in school history the Bears played a home game ranked #1. That did not last long due to a loss at home against Kansas. However, Baylor still has been putting up quite the season with an impressive five wins against top-25 opponents. They have the opportunity to make it seven by the time their season is over against Texas Tech and West Virginia.
While Baylor’s offense doesn’t jump off the page it is solid. They are one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country. Where the Bears shine is with their defense. Two Baylor players, Davion Mitchell and Mark Vital are semifinalists for defensive player of the year. The Bears hold opponents to an average of 58.7 points per game which is 5th best in the nation. They are also holding teams under 40 percent from the field. If defense wins championships then this Baylor team has a good chance.
Despite falling too BYU big on the road the Bulldogs remain my pick to get the 1 seed in the west. However, the Bulldogs still have three wins against top-25 teams this season. They are in first in their division and look to hold off BYU to once against be regular season champions of the WCC for a fifth consecutive time. While a common argument against them is that that their conference is weak, the WCC has the potential to produce three tournament teams this season.
Gonzaga features the most prolific offense in all of college basketball behind forward Filip Petrusev who is averaging 17.4 points per game. The Bulldogs are averaging a whopping 87.6 points per game which is the highest in the country. To add, they are shooting a staggering 51.2 percent from the field good for 2nd in the nation. While their defense isn’t anything to scoff at, it is not what they build success off of. Gonzaga has done it before and with 21 consecutive tournament appearances they know what it takes to win it all.
This is the region that I feel could go to many different teams. I chose Maryland for this spot because there is something to be said about a team who is 13-4 against the toughest conference in the nation. The Terps have only two wins against top-25 teams, but according to ESPN they have the third most quality wins points in the country with 57. Winning the Big Ten regular season and tournament championship would be a massive achievement that would warrant a 1 seed. I believe Maryland will do just that. Those achievements will allow them to leap frog the four teams standing in their way, however, failure to do so means this spot likely goes to the ACC champion or a conference champion San Diego State.
The Terps won’t blow you away on the offensive side of the ball. Their defense on the other hand is one of the most physical and battle hardened in the country. Maryland is able to hold opponents under 64 points a game and below a 40 percent shooting percentage. Despite playing in a conference with some of the best defenses in the country, guard Anthony Cowan Jr. is averaging 16.2 points per game. Jalen Smith has been a key contributor to their defensive success and is one of the best defenders in the nation averaging over 10 rebounds and two blocks a game. Their refusal to quit in big games and their physicality could be the reason why they end up in the big dance.
On The Bubble
Florida State (23-4)
San Diego State (26-1)