My March Madness Predictions

Staff Writer William Ketner breaks down his take on how this year’s March Madness will play out.

Staff+Writer+William+Ketner%27s+2021+March+Madness+bracket.

William Ketner

Staff Writer William Ketner’s 2021 March Madness bracket.

64 teams, 63 games, 4 regions, 1 champion. The NCAA basketball tournament, referred to often as March Madness, is the final push for 64 teams to try to capture the national championship. Here are some facts about this year’s tournament and my predictions for who will win each region and, eventually, the whole thing.

 

Fun Facts

As the world continues to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the major changes to this year’s tournament is that all of the games will be played in 1 city,Indianapolis, instead of the typical 21 cities. Usually, the teams are spread out amongst 16 cities for the first 2 rounds, 4 cities for the middle 2 rounds, and finally 1 city for the final 4.

Another change that was not scheduled to happen but did, is the fact that neither Kentucky nor Duke made it to the tournament this year. This is the first time that this has happened since the 1976 tournament.

Lastly, Iona head coach Rick Pitino has made the tournament with his 5th different team. Pitino became the 3rd coach in history to take 5 teams to the tournament; Iona, Kentucky, Providence, Boston University, and Louisville. 

 

West Region Champion

In the West region, you can find teams like Gonzaga, Kansas, Virginia, Iowa, Chreighton, and Oregon. Any one of these teams could win this region. However, one of these teams has been absurdly dominant throughout the regular season and their conference tournament. This team is the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

Throughout the year, the Gonzaga Bulldogs have been undefeated, with a record of 26-0. However, the Bulldogs play in the West Coast Conference, which is not a particularly strong conference. The balancing act here though is that Gonzaga did not only beat everyone they played, but they beat them handily. They beat everyone by at least 10 points and this includes a win by 55 over Dixie State.

Gonzaga uses their potent offense to win games as they score at a clip of 92.1 points per game. This leads the entire nation. They also lead the nation in 2 point field goal percentage and total field goal percentage. The offense is going to be virtually impossible to contain, let alone stop. For these reasons, the Gonzaga Bulldogs will win the West Region and move onto the Final 4.

 

East Region Champion

In the East Region, you can find teams like Michigan, Alabama, Texas, Florida St, BYU, and UCONN. In this region, this team prides themselves heavily on defense and is the best in the nation in terms of taking 3’s. They were also the champions of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). This team is the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Alabama does not shoot particularly well from 3. They shoot 35% from beyond the arch. However, they are first in the nation in terms of attempts and shots made from 3. If they can improve the 3 ball with the amount of attempts they take, their offense will be very difficult to handle.

Also, Alabama prides themselves on the defensive end of the floor. In the SEC, they rank number 1 in 3 point defense and defensive rebounding, as well as 2nd in opponent’s field goal percentage. This style of play with the ability to hit 3’s and play solid defense will help the Alabama Crimson Tide win the East Region.

 

Midwest Region Champion

In the Midwest Region, you can find teams like Illinois, Houston, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, and San Diego State. However, one of these teams has a great big man and is the champion of the deepest conference in the country. This team is the Big Ten champions, the Illinois Fighting Illini.

Kofi Cockburn is going to be a huge player for Illinois during the tournament on both sides of the ball. He averages 17.6 points per game and 1.4 blocks per game. Illinois will need him to be at his best to make a run. They will also need their leading scorer in Ayo Dosunma to come up large. He averages 20.8 points per game.

The Illini have a great offense being 15th in the country on the offensive side of the ball. Also, they rank 8th in the country with a 49.9% field goal percentage. These are the reasons why Illinois will win the Midwest Region.

 

South Region

In the South Region, you can find teams like Baylor, Ohio St, Arkansas, Purdue, Villanova, and Texas Tech. However one of these teams has earned the regular season championship in the Big 12, losing in the semifinals of the conference tournament. This team is the Baylor Bears.

Baylor is going to rely on their leading scorer to get them through each game and onto the next round. Jared Butler is the leading scorer at 17.1 points per game. The top 5 scorers on the team are all guards and the top 4 are all in double figures. They have the balance to score.

Along with that, Baylor boasts the top 3 point percentage in the country at 41.8%. Baylor had played against some really tough competition all year. For this reason, Baylor shouldn’t be flustered by any opponent and will win the South Region.

 

National Champion

The first Final 4 game would consist of Gonzaga vs Alabama. The efficiency of the 3 ball from Alabama not being great will come back to hurt them. They will also have trouble defending Gonzaga. I don’t see Alabama as a team that can score with Gonzaga even though they pride themselves on defense. For this reason Gonzaga will win and go to the National Championship Game.

The second Final 4 game would consist of Illinois vs Baylor. Illinois has good defense, but Baylor can light you up from 3, again shooting over 41% from 3. Although Illinois will be able to defend inside, they will have trouble stopping the guards of Baylor enough to win. Through these reasons, Baylor will win and move to the final.

The National Championship game will be Gonzaga vs Baylor. No top seed overall has won the championship in 6 years. Also, no team has gone undefeated in a season since 1976. These trends will continue this year. Baylor simply has more experience in tough games and they will use this experience to win the championship. Your National Champion will be the Baylor Bears.

It doesn’t matter who you are rooting for, who you picked to win, or if you are just going to watch for fun, March Madness is always crazy and jam packed with historic moments. Sit back, grab your popcorn, and enjoy the show.