by Jack Belanger ’21
Members of the Sports staff put their brains together to come up with the official 2018 March Madness Bracket for The Cowl. Thanks to Sam Scanlon ’19, Sullivan Burgess ’20, Thomas Zinzarella ’21 for helping contribute. Here is breakdown of each region, semifinals, and the championship.
The University of Arizona looks poised to be the team to make it out of a tough South region. DeAndre Ayton is one of the best players in the country, averaging 20.3 points per game and 11.5 rebounds per game. Junior guard Allonzo Trier has been a great second option for this team all year, despite missing time for a failed drug test, averaging 18.4 points per game. This team has enough firepower to take down an inconsistent University of Kentucky Wildcats team and beat out University of Virginia, which has only scored 67.5 points per game as a team.
Loyola University Chicago is our Cinderella team in this region. This team was one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country all year, shooting 39.8 percent behind the line, which makes them the 20th best in the country. The University of Miami is not a great defensive team, which could spell disaster for them early in the tournament.
Despite having a veteran coach in Rick Barnes, the University of Tennessee has not been to the tournament in four years, leaving the Volunteers inexperienced and suseptible to an underdog team like Loyola.
It would not be a Providence College bracket without showing some love to the Friars. Kyron Cartwright ’18 was playing his best during the Big East Tournament. PC has a good chance of beating Texas A&M University and is certainly capable of pulling an upset over the University of North Carolina and winning in a rematch over the University of Houston (who will pull off their own upset over University of Michigan).
Ultimately, Gonzaga University is our pick to come out of the West. Coach Mark Few made it to the finals last year and knows what it takes to return to the Final Four. Gonzaga has six players who average over nine points per game currently, led by senior Johnathan Williams who is averaging 13.5 points per game.
Despite many picking Villanova University as a favorite to win the whole tournament, PC would be much happier to see ’Nova lose in the Elite Eight. Purdue University is a solid choice to come out of a weak East Region. The Boilermakers shot 42 percent from the 3-point line which was second in the country. They can also beat teams underneath the hoop with two players in the rotation over seven feet tall in Isaac Haas and Matt Haarms.
Stephen F. Austin State University played tough in each of their last two tournament apperances and that should hold true again. The Lumberjacks force many turnovers and have a deep rotation. While Texas Tech University plays great defense, Stephen F. Austin has too many weapons to slow down. The Lumberjacks are another Cinderella team that can make it to the Sweet Sixteen as they will have an opportunity to play one of the last teams in between St. Bonaventure University and the University California, Los Angeles, who will upset an inconsistent University of Florida team.
Michigan State is not only our pick to win the Midwest region but also the whole tournament. The Spartans have two of the best players in the country in forwards, Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr., and one of the most respected coaches in Tom Izzo. Michigan State should have no issue making it to a Sweet Sixteen matchup versus Duke University where they could win in a close game.
Auburn University is a team that could easily lose their first round game if they are not careful, but they force enough turnovers and can get hot shooting to beat a better team like the University of Kansas.
Clemson University has not been the same since losing their best player, Donte Grantham, for the season due to injury. New Mexico State University has a player in Zach Lofton who has the ability to lead an upset. Lofton has averaged 19.8 points per game for the season, while the entire team plays tough defense.
Final Four Semifinals:
While Arizona has the better player in Ayton, Gonzaga has a more depth with a stronger bench and the motivation to get back to finals. Arizona has struggled playing defense all year and Gonzaga has too many scorers who shoot and take the ball to the rim.
In a matchup between two Big Ten powerhouses, Michigan State and Purdue face each other in a rematch that saw the Spartans beat the Boilermakers 68-65 back in February. Expect a smiliar result as Michigan State continues to ride with more talent.
In a year where no team has stood head and shoulders above anyone else, choosing the finals was definitely not an unanimous choice. Both Gonzaga and Michigan State play well on both ends of the court and boast versatile players who can contribute in multiple ways. Few and Izzo are two of the best coaches in college basketball and certainly both teams will be prepared to compete. That being said, the combination of Bridges and Jackson will end up being the deciding factor and ultimately give the edge to the Spartans.