Well, my fellow college basketball enthusiasts, March Madness is upon us! Time for brackets, bracket busters, last-second shots, and the crowning of a national champion. Three hundred fifty-three teams opened the season with a chance to make the Big Dance, the NCAA tournament. That number has been whittled down to 68 with a chance to cut the nets in Minneapolis. Who will that team be and how do you see the brackets playing out? I’m glad you asked!
Let’s play categories! I’ll offer a question and I will give possible answers to it. It’s fun for the whole family...if you love college basketball that is.
Question 1: Who wins the First Four games in Dayton on Wednesday?
Belmont defeats Temple.
Arizona State defeats St. John’s.
Question 2: Who pulls the first-round upsets everyone loves when they pick it right and loathes when they get it wrong?
No. 12 seed Liberty defeats No. 5 seed Mississippi State. The Flames are deep and talented.
No. 11 seed Belmont defeats 6 seed Maryland. Rick Byrd is a great coach and the Bruins can flat out play.
No. 12 seed Murray State defeats 5 seed Marquette. Ja Morant is the real deal.
No. 13 seed UC-Irvine defeats 4 seed Kansas State. Anteaters are 30-5 and top 10 in offensive and defensive efficiency.
Question 3: What SEC teams will survive the opening rounds to make the Sweet 16?
Question 4: What teams make the next step to the Elite Eight?
East: Duke and Michigan State. Two bluebloods decide the region champions.
West: Gonzaga and Michigan. Can the Zags beat the Wolverines to make the next step to the Final Four?
South: Virginia and Tennessee. The Cavaliers and Vols hook up in a regional final that could be the best game of the Elite Eight.
Midwest: North Carolina and Kentucky. Again, two bluebloods decide the region in a regular-season rematch.
Question 5: Who will the Final Four consist of?
Duke. Zion and company make their final stand in the Twin Cities.
Michigan. If anyone can gameplan a strategy to defeat the Blue Devils, it's John Beilein. Vastly underrated coach.
Tennessee. Great tournament teams defend and rebound. They also have star power. The Vols fit the bill.
Kentucky. See above description. The Cats have prepared all season for this moment. It’s here.
Question 6: The National Championship game will be…
Duke vs. Kentucky. The season ends as it began, Blue Devils versus Wildcats. Can the Cats solve the Zion/RJ/others experience to win their ninth championship?
Question 7: Your 2019 champions are…
The Kentucky Wildcats. This team isn’t the same team that Duke annihilated 118-84 in Indy. The Cats have jelled, found their roles, and is deeper than anyone could have imagined. In a game for the ages, the Cats find a way late to defeat Duke 61-58.
There you have it, a quick primer for the tournament that either…
Makes me a genius forecaster.
Makes me an idiot.
Shane Shackleford is a regional sports columnist from Speedwell, Tenn. You can contact him on Twitter, Facebook, or email at email@example.com.