NCAA Tournament Bracket Prediction- The Elite Eight

Matthew Swanenburg, Staff Writer

Nearly two years after the UVA Men’s Basketball team’s historic championship run, it’s finally time for March Madness. On Sunday, March 14th, the field of 64 teams who would have a chance to compete for a National Championship were announced, and although the tournament will look a little different this year, fans around the world cannot contain their excitement for the ball to be tipped for the first game of the Big Dance this Thursday, March the 18th. And with all this excitement, comes a multitude of predictions. Because of March Madness’s reputation for, well, madness it can be very difficult to create an accurate bracket. Hopefully I can be of some assistance. Although I won’t go game by game, I’ll at least give you the eight teams that should be sharpied into your elite eight.

  1. Gonzaga Bulldogs (1st overall seed)- The Gonzaga Bulldogs enter March Madness as a heavy favorite, and it’s no secret why. The Bulldogs sit at a perfect 26-0, and because they were the overall top seed in the tournament, their journey to the elite eight will be the easiest. With a roster led by a four-headed monster of double digit scorers who also average close to or over five rebounds a game, it’s a no brainer to include Gonzaga in my elite eight.
  2. Illinois Fighting Illini (3rd overall seed)- Coming off a conference championship in the toughest conference in college basketball, the Big 10, Illinois is another team I consider to be a lock in the elite eight. The Fighting Illini are paced by potential player of the year candidate, Ayo Dosunmo and 2nd Team All American big man Kofi Cockburn, which, by itself, is good enough reason for me to include them as a top team.
  3. Iowa Hawkeyes (7th overall seed)- Speaking of player of the year candidates, Iowa has Luke Garza, the national player of the year front runner and the only player to be a unanimous selection to the All American 1st Team. Garza is a beast in the college game and will prove a matchup nightmare for any team he’s against. And, just like Illinois, Iowa finished as a top three seed in the toughest conference in college basketball. So, if they can finish top three in the Big 10, they can certainly finish top eight in the tournament.
  4. Baylor Bears (2nd overall seed)- With wins against other top teams like Illinois, Kansas and Texas on the season, Baylor is poised for a deep postseason run. The Bears come into the postseason with the second best record in college basketball, at 22-2 and a First Team All American in Jared Butler leading the way. And it isn’t like Baylor finished with such a great record because of a soft schedule, as they went 7-2 on the season against other top 25 teams.
  5. Ohio State Buckeyes (6th overall seed)- The Big 10 continues to dominate my elite eight with an appearance from the team that finished second in the conference tournament for a historically loaded conference. Although the Buckeyes don’t have a sole superstar like the other teams I have listed, they have a great cast of characters and a high octane offense that should give them a chance no matter who they play.
  6. Michigan Wolverines (4th overall seed)- The final Big 1o team to be included, the Wolverines would without a doubt be considered a top two team if not for the uncertainty surrounding their star guard Isiah Livers, who is out indefinitely with a foot injury. Michigan had the overall best record in their conference, and are so incredibly deep that even without a star player they should still make it to the elite eight comfortably. They are helmed by Michigan legend and conference coach of the year, Juan Howard, and have a Second Team All American forward in Hunter Dickinson to lean back on if Livers does miss extended time.
  7. Texas Longhorns (11th overall seed)- Although Texas is the second lowest overall seeded team I have included in my elite eight, they are still a major threat and a team with real potential to advance to the Final Four. The Longhorns come into the tournament as quite possibly the hottest team in college basketball, as they won their conference tournament beating ranked opponents like Kansas and Texas Tech in back to back games. And with an offense featuring six players averaging over eight points per game, they will certainly be a tough team to contain.
  8. Oklahoma State Cowboys (15th overall seed)- The Cowboys have played eight straight games against top 25 opponents and have only lost twice, meaning their competition to make it to the elite eight will be rather tame compared to how they finished the season. Led by NBA prospect Cade Cunningham and boasting some great wins against elite teams, lookout for the Cowboys to make some noise late in the tournament.