Albright’s NCAA Final Four predictions

Frequent readers know my favorite sports time of the year is happening right now. Major League Baseball is starting up and my Red Sox are less than a month away from making a run to the World Series.

However, MLB isn’t the only reason I look forward to this time of year.

Today begins one of the very few parity-driven Division I college championships left in the country in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. All 64 teams have a shot (yes even the 16 seeds) and upsets can and will happen as some of the best basketball players in the country get together to determine the 2016-17 national champion.

Over the course of the next three weeks, teams have one game plan in mind “survive and advance,” with the main goal to wind up at the Final Four in Phoenix.

Another fun activity coming with “March Madness” is the filling out of brackets in search of acheiving a perfect field when everything is said and done.

I am sure I will have 12 or so brackets filled out on ESPN before the action begins today. Yet, I have my main bracket done already and have begun getting questions as to who is in my Final Four … So without further a do, here we go!

Right out of the gate, the East Region was really hard to choose a champion.

Villanova, the defending national champions, is in this bracket and so is a red-hot Duke squad who made history during the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament. Baylor is the three-seed but I think Southern Methodist University will take care of them in the second round.

A potential second round matchup with Wisconsin for Villanova worries me but I think the Wildcats will survive. Jay Wright’s squad should end up in the regional final to take on Duke before their season comes to an end at the hands of the Blue Devils.

We will take a trip across the country to hit up the West Region next because West Virginia University resides there as a four seed.

I have worried all year about the Moutaineers inability to get up when the competition seems a step below them … Bucknell is a 13 seed.

But WVU surely will be anxious to get last year’s first round exit out of its mouth and move on to the second round for a matchup against Notre Dame or Princeton.

I honestly see the Mountaineers making it to the regional final after they beat top-seed Gonzaga in the Sweet Sixteen.

Unfortunately, the best team in the region (Arizona) will be waiting for the old gold and blue and will prove the Mounties downfall during an Elite Eight matchup March 25.

There is no question North Carolina is the top seed in the hardest region in the tournament in the South bracket. Roy Williams’ team is joined by No. 2 Kentucky, No. 3 UCLA, No. 4 Butler, and a much underrated No. 10 Wichita State team, winner of 30 games to just four losses.

The Tar Heels will breeze through the top half of the bracket, while the other four teams beat themselves up on the bottom half. My prediction is UCLA comes out of the bottom half and Lonzo Ball’s dad loses his mind when the Bruins advance to the Final Four.

Finally, Kansas is top dog in the Midwest Region but I have no faith the Jayhawks will make it past potential second round opponent Michigan State. Sparty and Tom Izzo are just magic in the field of 64 and Kansas has been living on the edge all year.

In fact, I am predicting the Spartans to face Michigan in the Elite Eight with the Wolverines pulling off the upset.

My championship game is Arizona vs. UCLA with West Virginia native Sean Miller’s Wildcats winning their first NCAA championship in 20 years.

Of course … What do I know lol my bracket could be busted after the first day. I guess we will all find out together.

Happy reading

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com

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