March 21, 2019
Players to Watch: Kyle Guy, Virginia Guard / Duo of Tennessee’s Admiral Schofield, Guard and Grant Williams, Forward
Virginia guard Kyle Guy is one of the nation’s most underrated players. Kyle has single handedly taken Virginia to two straight number 1 seeds in consecutive seasons. Last year, Virginia was the first team ever to get knocked out in the first round by a 16 seed. Kyle has used that as motivation each and every day and hopes it pays off for him and his team in the tournament this year.
The ultimate duo of Tennessee players Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams can be a deadly combo for any team that has to play Tennessee in this year’s tournament. Schofield can space the floor at any time and if he sees a lane to pass, more than likely he will to set his teammates up for a great shot. Williams is 1 of 4 finalists for the Naismith player of the year. He leads the SEC in scoring (19.0), ranks 2nd in field goal percentage (.565), and is 6th in rebounding (7.6). He has been a great leader all season, teaching the young guns and motivating the older guys. Watch out for this duo trying to steamroll through the South.
Upsets: Oregon over Wisconsin / UC Irvine over Kansas State
Oregon earned a bid in this years tournament by winning the Pac 12 tournament. They will take March Madness by surprise, playing a Wisconsin team that hasn’t clicked in the last month. Wisconsin will be trying to pick up where they left off earlier in the year, but I just don’t see it happening. Oregon is too hot right now and Wisconsin’s best player, Ethan Happ, hasn’t been his best self recently.
The UC Irvine Anteaters come into the tournament riding a 16 game win streak and they won’t take their foot off the gas against Kansas State. There defense can win them a game in the tournament, but scoring wise they won’t be able to hang with the better teams. Their free throw percentage is very low, and if games get close, don’t count on UC Irvine closing it out or coming back. That’s why the Anteaters can upset Kansas State, but won’t go any further than that.
Cinderella Story: Oregon and Villanova to Sweet 16
Oregon has overcome adversity this year with losing a key player in Bol Bol due to an injury. The team hasn’t looked the same since then, but has found a new way to play just in time for the tournament. They are clicking on all cylinders heading into the tournament and a team to look out for with a low seed. With a 12 seed and playing a Wisconsin team who hasn’t looked good recently, they will easily advance in the first game.
Villanova is a huge sleeper team this year in the tournament. They won it all last year against Michigan and will be looking to go back to back. Coming in at a 6 seed, they look to show people that they should’ve been seeded higher. If Villanova can win a tough first round matchup against Saint Mary’s, they should easily beat an overrated Purdue team in the 2nd round.
Best Shot at Winning the West: Virginia or Tennessee
Virginia is looking to put all of the doubters in the past with a good run at a title this year. After last year’s Virginia team lost to 16 seed UMBC, almost everyone has had laughs at their expense since. In my opinion, Virginia got better in all aspects of the game and one aspect you can’t track with stats is where they grew the most: leadership. Virginia guard Kyle Guy has taken last year’s loss personally and made sure that won’t happen again this year. I’m expecting Virginia to be an even better team than they were in the regular season and dominate everyone in there way to a Final Four.
Tennessee also has a good chance to make it out of the South as well. The duo of Schofield and Williams will be hard to guard, but Tennessee has a way harder path to the Final Four than Virginia does. After winning there first game (if they do), they’d have to play a tough Cincinnati team who should’ve been a higher seed in my opinion. If they win that, then they’d have to defeat the champs from last year in Villanova, then go on in the Elite 8 and beat Virginia to win the South (assuming all of these teams win). It’s for sure possible, but the odds are not in their favor.