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March Madness Projected Predictions (1/2)

by Faith Chojar and Jordan Fickling, staff reporters

March Madness brackets predict the top picks for this year's NCAA Tournament. Photo by Faith Chojar.
March Madness brackets predict the top picks for this year’s NCAA Tournament. Photo by Faith Chojar.

It’s that special time of the year when Brackets are being made and bets are being placed. The 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament is fast approaching and here are key matchups that are heavily debated.

First Four: (16) Robert Morris vs (16) North Florida

It is agreed that the Colonials have a strong chance making it into the tournament. Two years ago, they surprisingly defeated Kentucky in a tournament (NIT) and they’re constantly referred to as the “Dark Horse”. The Robert Morris Colonials are entering the “First Four” with a six game winning streak (19-14) which gives a considerable amount momentum as a 16 seed. The Colonials are bringing a power ranking of being no. 166, whereas the North Florida Ospreys are currently at no. 235.

Furthermore, Sophomore guard Dallas Moore is the main weapon of offense for North Florida, however he generates a plethora of turnovers. In the last five games Moore has played, he’s had twice as many turnovers as assists.

We both predict that Robert Morris will take advantage of their higher power ranking and North Florida’s consistent turnovers. They must play like there is nothing to lose because if they manage to unseat North Florida, they have to face (1) Duke in the first round.

Second Round: Harvard (13) v. North Carolina (4)

Here’s where our predictions begin to differ.

Jordan: Harvard Crimson (13):

History is on the side of Harvard, as they’ve won the past two rounds of 64. In addition, they’ve recently defeated rival Yale to even enter the tournament. Upsets normally occur in this unpredictable tournament, and Harvard can be a college that proves doubters wrong. Forget about percentages, that does not measure the heart and determination the Crimson have to at least make it to the round of 32.

Their star player, Wesley Saunders  is the team’s leading scorer at 16.3 points per game. In addition, he also averages 6.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists. He is great at playing under pressure and this matchup will be no different. Harvard must play with a gigantic chip on their shoulders as the majority of fans have already counted them out.

“Harvard is a touchy team to talk about. People underestimate their basketball abilities due to the fact that Harvard is a college known for academics. Harvard is capable of defeating any team on any given night. They just need to get hot and build momentum,” teacher Robert Nisonoff said.

Faith: North Carolina Tar Heels (4):

With an 87% chance of making it into the first round, the future’s looking bright for the Tar Heels. North Carolina has gone 24 wins with only 11 losses and came super close to winning the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) (11-7), making it to the semifinals before going down to Notre Dame.

Point guard Marcus Paige is the player to look out for, who averages about 13.9 points and 4.6 assists per game, and makes 86% of his free throws. The Tar Heels have a lot of hope for this tournament and if they continue to play well and bring all that they have to the court, they have a good chance of making it further than expected.

Round of 32: Kentucky (1) vs Purdue (9)

We both assume that (1) Kentucky and (9) Purdue will making it past the second round however, there is a massive disagreement on which team makes it to the “Elite Eight,” the final eight teams remaining with a shot at winning the tournament.

Jordan: Kentucky Wildcats (1)

Ignoring the obvious fact that Kentucky is the number one seed in the Midwest and they’re currently undefeated, Kentucky is critically acclaimed for its defense. Their frontcourt is physically imposing with forward Karl-Anthony Towns (6’11”) and forward Willie Cauley-Stein (7’0″).

Their defense is suffocating, and their blocked shots are astounding. Assuming that they make quick work out of the Hampton Pirates, Kentucky will be five games away from completing a perfect season. That drive and intensity will push Kentucky to increase defensive pressure and shut down the Boilermakers.

“Kentucky is the team that I predict to go to the final four. You just can’t ignore the amount of success that they’ve had this season. I doubt they’ll have trouble in the first few rounds,” senior Emmanuel Damanakis said.

Faith: Purdue Boilermakers (9)

Okay, so they’re going up against the undefeated team of the season. That is no cause for concern for the Purdue Boilermakers. With any hope, we could see the biggest upset of the tournament right here when Purdue goes up against Kentucky. The Boilermakers are known to be tough to defend, which may pose a problem for the Wildcats who have some problems with defense of their own. Purdue is also bringing their 7’0’’ tall junior center AJ Hammons into the game, which makes for a nice matchup against Kentucky’s 6’11’’ Towns, and 7’0’’ Cauley-Stein.

Sweet Sixteen: Baylor (3) vs Arizona (2)

(3) Baylor and (2) Arizona will have no problem making it to the Sweet Sixteen, knowing their previous tournament history and win loss records (Baylor has a 24-9 record meanwhile Arizona is 31-3 this season).

Jordan: Arizona Wildcats (2)

Baylor is well known for its sloppy and inconsistent defense. Errors like that will not be acceptable if they want to move even further in the tournament (if they even make that far). Even an offensively challenged team such as Arizona, can take advantage of this glaring weakness.

Arizona can quickly build momentum and overcome Baylor with an offensive flurry which will be too much for Baylor to overcome. In addition, Arizona has an 82% percent chance to make it to the  “Sweet Sixteen”, and they’re known for their steals and rebounds (They’re ranked third in the Pac- 12 in steals and second nationally in their rebounding margin).

Faith: Baylor Bears (3)

Baylor Bears, Baylor Bears, Baylor Bears- say that five times fast. No better team to root for than a team with an alliterative name. My bracket has Baylor going all the way through to the final. Wishful thinking? I don’t think so.

This team has a great chance of beating Arizona, although their numbers don’t show it. Statistics show that they have a 12% chance of making it to the Elite 8 and compared to Arizona’s 80% chance, it looks like their odds are slim to none. The Bears always exude immense amounts of energy onto the court, with great zone defense. With a little bit of hope and a lot of drive, they just may stand a chance.

“I love the early stages of the March Madness tournament. Everybody has their bracket made and it’s satisfying to correctly pick the winning team and brag about it to your friends,” Junior Randy Charter said.

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