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March: It's Madness

JR Stauff ’19 and Connor Pignatello ’19
After 68 of the best college basketball teams in the world clash, only one winner will prevail. And it is up to you to predict that winner.
After 68 of the best college basketball teams in the world clash, only one winner will prevail. And it is up to you to predict that winner. From March 14 to April 3, 67 exhilarating games will be played to determine a national champion. By filling out a bracket for March Madness, you can choose the story. Nearly endless possibilities go into creating a bracket -- 9.2 quintillion, to be exact. Will you pick the teams based on advanced stats or your gut feeling? Will you pick the top seeds to succeed, creating a Final Four made up of super-teams? Or will you pick the underdog to win and make a Cinderella run to the title game. Will you pick a team laden with pro talent, or will you select the squad made up of nobodies who gel and produce improbable wins? No matter how you make your picks, it will only take a few
minutes, and hey, maybe you can be the first person to fill one out completely correct. Below, find some Hopkins opinions on what team will take the ‘ship.

“UNC has a chance to go all the way this year because of the increased perimeter shooting percentages from Justin Jackson and Joel Berry. It adds a new element to their traditionally inside-focused game.” -Lena Gerritz ’17

“I think that North Carolina will win because they got second place last year and they still have a bunch of their starters. So I think they’ll win this year because they got so close last year.” -Jamie Donovan ’19

“I like March Madness because anything can happen and there are things that nobody expects. I think Villanova will win because they won last year on that crazy buzzer-beating three.” -Theo Tellides ’19

“Let’s go with Duke. I’m a big Grayson Allen fan.” -Alessandro Amoedo ’20

“I vote Kansas; natty champs!” -Lydia McGrath '17
“I’d like Kentucky to win the big dance. No one in the country can keep up with De’Aaron Fox, and Malik Monk is lighting it up from downtown. Bam Adebayo is a beast, too. They play suffocating defense, which is hard to beat when the game is on the line. When March comes around, the Wildcats will be rolling and I see them winning it all.” -Jack Dove '19

“I think UCLA will win because of Lonzo Ball; that’s the entire reason, they have a member of the Ball family on their roster.” -Jordan Shand ’19
“I’m going to say the University of Kansas. I’m running with the Jayhawks because I watched them play against Baylor and I saw them beat Kentucky and they looked great.” -John Roberts, Assistant Head of School
“I’m picking Wisconsin because of my rich midwestern roots” -Ryan Goos ’19

Looking forward to Selection Sunday, below are some of the nation’s top contenders, teams to watch out for, and some overrated teams.

Top Contenders
Gonzaga
The Bulldogs are, as of February 21st, 28-0, the only undefeated team in Division I, thanks to Nigel Williams Goss, who leads his team in points, assists, and steals.

Villanova
The Wildcats, defending national champions, retained much of their title-winning core, and are lead by senior Josh Hart, who is on the shortlist for player of the year.

Kansas
Winners of 12 consecutive Big 12 titles, the Jayhawks are led by freshman forward Josh Jackson, a projected top 5 pick according to ESPN, and point guard Frank Mason III, who is on the shortlist for player of the year.

Arizona
The leaders of the Pac-12, the Wildcats are led by 7-foot Finnish phenom Lauri Markkanen and flashy guard Allonzo Trier.

UCLA
The Bruins’ high flying offense leads Division I in scoring and field goal percentage, thanks to star point guard Lonzo Ball, who leads the nation in assists per game and is a likely top 3 pick in the upcoming NBA draft, according to ESPN.

Oregon
The Ducks, often known for their flashy uniforms, lead the nation in blocked shots per game and are led by senior forward Chris Boucher and junior forward Dillon Brooks.

Louisville
The Cardinals are back in the thick of things this year after a self-imposed postseason ban due to an escort scandal last year. The ACC squad is in contention thanks to contributions from Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino and guards Donovan Mitchell and Quentin Snider.

North Carolina
Hall of Fame head coach Roy Williams is leading his Tar Heels back to the dance this year. After finishing as the runner-up last year, the Heels lead Division I in rebounding, and wiry junior forward Justin Jackson leads the team in scoring and is on the shortlist for player of the year.

Baylor
The Bears, who started the season 20-1 but have since cooled down, rely heavily on Johnathan Motley, who leads his team in scoring and rebounding.

Duke
The preseason #1 in the Associated Press poll, the Blue Devils have not quite lived up to lofty expectations. However, the team has loads of potential: a player of the year finalist (sophomore guard Luke Kennard) and a projected top ten pick in the NBA draft (freshman forward Jayson Tatum).

Kentucky
The Wildcats are perennial contenders thanks to their Hall of Fame coach, John Calipari. They are piloted by their 2 freshman guards: De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk, who lead their team in assists and points, respectively, and are both projected to be top 10 picks in the upcoming NBA draft.

Teams to Watch Out For
North Carolina
The Tar Heels fast-paced style of play, averaging 75 possessions per game, and their achievement as the runner up of last year, while still retaining much of their talent, has put opponents on their heels. Also, they have proven they can play at a slower pace, defeating Virginia, who averages just 62 possessions, second to last in all of Division I. However, their rank might take a tumble moving into March Madness, as their remaining schedule is one of the hardest in the country.

Middle Tennessee State
Pulling off one of the biggest upsets in the history of March Madness last year as a 15 seed against a 2 seed in Michigan State, the Blue Raiders have used that as motivation and have dominated Conference USA so far thanks to three returning starters. They will not likely be a high ranking team, but will be a potential sleeper pick in the first round.

Overrated Teams
West Virginia
The Mountaineers have been inconsistent in the regular season this year, with some triumphant wins but also some heavy losses, including blowing a 14-point lead in the final 3 minutes against Kansas. Since March Madness is well known for upsets and nail biters, the inconsistency of this team poses a problem to bracketeers.

Creighton
Creighton, currently slipping in the ranks of the Division I teams, has not been the same since the injury of star senior point guard Maurice Watson, who was leading Division I in assists at the time of his injury. They have been inconsistent, going 4-4 since losing Watson. If Creighton is going to excel in the tournament, they are going to have to find a way to work without Watson to get the job done. 
Stats of March Madness
The odds of creating a perfect bracket are 1 in 9.2 quintillion. To put that number into perspective, your odds of winning the Powerball lottery are 1 in 292 million, which is over 31 billion times more likely than your odds of selecting a perfect bracket. However, according to DePaul University math professor Jeffrey Bergen, knowing the sport and the analytics of the tournament can improve your odds to 1 in 128 billion.
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