By Zach Siegel
March Madness, The Big Dance, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament; whatever you call it March is here. Since the schedule and bracket being revealed Sunday people all over the country have been calculating and constructing March Madness brackets. The NCAA Men’s basketball tournament draws lots of attention every year due to it always producing several major upsets. This makes picking a winner every year extremely difficult. We all know someone who always claims to have the perfect bracket. I went on campus to ask students who their picks for the final four will be and what went into their decisions.
Question: Who’s in your Final Four and why?
John Haberman’s picks: Villanova, Gonzaga, Purdue, Auburn
John’s first choice was Villanova. Being from Pennsylvania, John mentions that for him Villanova is his “hometown team” and a natural and meaningful pick to go and make a deep run in this year’s big dance. His next choice is a popular choice this year, Gonzaga. The university out of Spokane, Washington has been a force the last few years which is what lead John to taking them in bracket. With the third choice John selected Purdue. This was his dark horse pick as he mentions that while they are a third seed team, they could make a good run he even going as far to say they could win the whole thing. His final pick was Auburn. This is one he feels could be wrong, but feels they are a solid team from a tough conference.
Julia Spinner’s picks: Duke, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, LSU
Julia says she doesn’t know a lot about college basketball, but you can’t tell from her picks. With her first selection she chose Duke. She went with Duke due to how much they are talked about in the media and has heard they have been good in the past. Julia and Coach K will both be hoping for a big performance from the Blue Devils. With her second choice she took ACC champions Virginia Tech. Their recent victory in the ACC tournament is what made Julia pick them for her final four. Next, she chose Tennessee, not for the reason you think. Most people are taking Tennessee due to how well they have played this year, but Julia took them due to a general love and admiration for the entire state of Tennessee and hopes to see them go far this year. Her final pick was LSU. Saying that she’s a big fan of the school’s Tiger mascot and former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, Julia is hoping LSU will “geaux” far.
Dan Cerullo’s picks: Illinois, Kansas, Gonzaga, Baylor
Dan took a different route from the rest and went with Illinois with his first choice. He went with them due to them playing some hard match ups in the Big 10 and because they beat some big teams. Dan did have his doubts with Illinois mentioning while they got the big wins, they also had big losses. “You can never cut out Kansas” Dan said making a confident second choice. He said in his opinion head coach Bill Self is the best coach in college basketball. Dan is also backing Gonzaga to make a solid run. He thinks that star player Chet Holmgren has what it takes to not just lead Gonzaga to a championship but to get himself into the NBA. With his final pick Dan went with reigning champions Baylor. Dan, like many people, think the Bears can go back to back and get themselves another championship.
Mitch Ewing’s picks: Gonzaga, Kentucky, Auburn, Tennessee
Mitch’s number one pick is number one seed Gonzaga. He mentions how they were “on fire all season”. He then took what he told was his favorite team in Kentucky. He mentions that they are an amazing program that always competes well in the tournament. He took another popular pick with Auburn for his third pick. Mitch mentioned how this has been a big year for them and that they have been hot all season. This one that Mitch guarantees to make it proves that there is some mixed feeling about how people feel how well Auburn will do. With his final pick Mitch took Tennessee. Just like Auburn he mentions that they have been hot all year and he has high expectations that they will carry their momentum into the tournament.
Josh Baum’s picks: Gonzaga, Virginia Tech, Michigan, Auburn
Backing consistency Josh took Gonzaga for his first choice. He like many people are backing them purely on how well they have done this season and in the past few years. Secondly, he took Auburn. Josh like many people have said one way or another “they have been on fire”. He feels their momentum from the regular season will carry over into the big dance. Thirdly Josh chose Michigan. Josh took this one on how lucky they’ve been in the tournament the past few years. With round one starting on St. Patrick’s Day, let’s hope that luck continues for the Wolverines. Finally, Josh took the Hokies of Virginia Tech. He’s hoping the ACC champs can continue their good run after beating the likes of UNC and Duke in the ACC tournament and surprise everyone and go to the Final Four.
Gonzaga seems like a big favorite to go far this year and for good reason. While Gonzaga looks very good, they aren’t my champion; they are in my Final Four though. For me the choice was difficult but also somewhat easy. My picks in no order of relevance are Gonzaga, Baylor, Auburn, and Tennessee. Gonzaga’s roster is too good and too experienced not to go far. Baylor are the reigning champs and like last year have a very strong, tightly knit group of guys who show up when it matters. Tennessee have been on a roll and made a statement with how good they were this season. But those three teams don’t have what Auburn has. He wears No.10 and is rumored to go No.1 in the NBA draft. Auburn’s ace is Jabari Smith, and he has been balling for the Tigers. In my opinion there’s no reason coach Bruce Pearl and the Auburn tigers can’t go and win it all.
Huge thanks to everyone I spoke to. This year’s “big dance” is sure to be action packed with lots of big wins and big heartbreaks in almost every game. The tournament starts officially March 17, and games will be available to watch on CBS, TNT, TBS, and TruTV. The final four starts April 2nd with both games on TBS and the national championship airing on TBS on April 4th live from the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans.
Zach Siegel is a junior majoring in Mass Communication.