When looking at this year’s NCAA March Madness Tournament bracket, it’s hard not to automatically think Kentucky versus the field. Well … take these facts into consideration:
- Indianapolis has hosted the Final Four seven times in the past and Kentucky has been in attendance one time … and lost.
- The ACC has six teams in the field this year with an average seed of a little over 3.5. Yes, one conference with basically six 4-seeds.
- The ACC has teams distributed in all four regions of the bracket.
Here is why the Final Four in Indianapolis could be an ACC Tournament, Round 2.
The case for NC State
The Wolfpack are no strangers to big games and big-time opponents; they do play in the ACC. But let’s be serious, NC State can take care of LSU and would have a chance in the second round against Villanova which comes from a weaker Big East than from past years. Here’s where it gets convoluted. NC State could end up playing Louisville in the Sweet 16 and I would not bet against Rick Pitino in that particular round. So… NC State’s season would end there.
The case for Louisville
The Cardinals come into the dance not playing as they would like to, but a win against Virginia on March 7 probably helped their confidence. UC Irvine should be no problem and in the second round Northern Iowa poses a huge threat as they had a great season … but what conference do they even play in? So, Louisville moves on to the Sweet 16 to play either NC State or Villanova. Like I said before, I would not bet against Rick Pitino in the Sweet 16. Next would potentially come Virginia in the Elite 8 and you can flip a coin on that one because their last game against one another was decided by two points. Whatever happens there, an ACC team is still coming out of the East region.
The case for Virginia
The Cavaliers are coming in after a disappointing showing in the ACC tournament but are arguably the best defensive team in the country. Virginia will handle Belmont and then would take on Michigan St. in the second round and probably Oklahoma in the Sweet 16. For some reason, I just don’t trust Oklahoma to have that much success. Michigan St. has come on strong at the end of the season, barely losing to Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship. Both State and Virginia are hard-nosed teams but Virginia over the whole year has just looked too strong … on to Louisville in the Elite 8. Coin flip.
The case for Duke
I will make it short and sweet: Jahlil Okafor and the South region … period.
The Case for Notre Dame
The Irish ended the year as ACC tournament champions and locked up a 3-seed. They have a mild road to the Final Four with Northeastern and Butler in the first two rounds. For argument’s sake, let’s say they take care of business. In the Sweet 16 they would more than likely match up against Kansas which has been a mirage all year. Also I believe Kentucky will be beaten
by Maryland in the Sweet 16 so this makes Notre Dame’s job a little easier. With no Kentucky, the Irish could come out of the Midwest region.
The case for North Carolina
For one, Tar Heel Nation. They have been to the more Final Fours than anyone, ever. They came up short in the ACC championship game but their confidence level is growing and their front court players can compete with anyone. Harvard will be no problem in the first round and in the second they would probably get Arkansas which just so happens to be just like Kansas, a mirage. Also, Arkansas plays in the SEC. If you aren’t wearing Kentucky on the front of your jersey and you reside in the SEC, please stick to football. The Tar Heels would then have a match up with Wisconsin, which is not an easy game. Still, I believe Roy Williams will find a way to use UNC’s athleticism to get by the Badgers.
My sleeper of the whole dance is Ohio St. and that means that the Tar Heels and the Buckeyes will go at it one more time for a ticket to the last four. North Carolina won an earlier meeting with Ohio St. this year 82-74. Do you see where I am going with this?
So, you’re saying there’s a chance …
Duke will play either Virginia or Louisville in one semifinal and North Carolina will get another crack at Notre Dame in the other semifinal. It’s a scenario that isn’t entirely out of the question.
My prediction in a perfect world? Carolina cuts down the nets after playing Duke in the National Championship for the first time ever.