The Warm Up:: NCAA Tournament Predictions

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The Final Four has been set and March Madness is behind us. Will these final games be as incredible and as unpredictable as the the past few weeks? And what does the future hold for each team and its players? Nick and Roderick go one-on-one to debate these hot topics.

1. Who has been the most impressive player still left in the tournament?

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Shabazz Napier

Nick: Shabazz Napier. He has been the most consistent play-maker and scorer throughout the tournament, averaging 23.3 ppg while leading the team in assists and rebounding. Napier is the only player left in the tournament with previous Final Four experience and his play has displayed veteran leadership thus far.  After winning the National Championship alongside Kemba Walker (Charlotte Bobcats point guard), Napier stayed in school all 4 years, despite being a potential lottery pick, to finish his degree and to become more NBA-ready. Shabazz Napier is a big-shot taker and a big-shot maker and I’d look out for another big performance from him on Final Four weekend.

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Julius Randle

Roderick: Julius Randle. The name of the game is consistency. While averaging a double-double for the season, Randle has been the most consistent player for the Wildcats this season. Kentucky has been on a tear during the tournament and are peaking at the right time. They owe a lot of that to Randle. Randle’s combination of power, speed, and skill is a match-up nightmare for the Wisconsin Badgers. I’m expecting a big game from the Wildcats 4-man.

 

2. Which 2 teams have the best chance of making it to the National Championship game?

Nick: This is a tough one. I have been going back and forth since the 4 teams advanced from the Elite 8. I have a funny feeling that we will see a rematch of the SEC Championship game Kentucky vs. Florida for several reasons. The rematch with UConn vs Florida will be epic. UConn beat Florida earlier in the season, but Florida’s lone play maker and leader Scott Wilbekin was coming off suspension and out of game shape.  I believe Florida’s full court pressure will take a toll on Napier and boat-right deep into the game. Florida’s front court physicality will overpower UConn’s front court. I’m taking Florida in the match up.

The Wisconsin vs Kentucky match-up will be a battle of contrasting styles. The veterans vs. the rookies. Athleticism vs. skill. Youth vs. experience. Kentucky is playing the best team-basketball out of everyone in the tournament and had the toughest road to get there, knocking off Wichita State, rival Louisville, and Michigan. Experience will not matter, talent will win this one. I’m picking Kentucky.

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Roderick: As with making any prediction for a college basketball, there is really no wrong answer because anything could happen, but I have to go with the facts and look at the teams as far as personnel and coaches and when I do that I have to take Florida in the UConn vs Florida match up. Florida is by far the most well rounded team left in the tournament with a solid front court (Patric Young anchoring the middle) and talented and experienced guard (Scottie Wilbekin) running the show. I’ve got Florida winning this game.

As far as the Wisconsin vs Kentucky match-up, I think the magical run of Kentucky is over. While they might be more talented and maybe should win this game, I’m picking experience over youth. Kentucky has had the hardest road to the Final Four but they have scrapped by a lot of those games on luck. Nothing about Wisconsin and their game is pretty. But when the going gets tough I know they won’t fold. I just think Kentucky will make one more mistake than Wisconsin in a close game that will cause them to go home. I’ve got Wisconsin.

3. Which player left is more NBA ready?

Nick: Julius Randle is definitely the most NBA ready out of all the players in the Final Four. He will be a top 10 pick. Randle is 6’9, 260 pounds with the speed and agility of a young Chris Webber. I believe he will be a 20 and 10 player in the NBA.

Roderick: Randle. For the same reasons I stated above. His build and skill set makes him the perfect candidate for the NBA. He also has that ‘it’ factor and a high motor that I think is crucial to have to make it in the NBA.

Bold Prediction?

Nick: Kentucky over Florida 69-66 for the NCAA Division I title. Kentucky has lost to Florida 3 times this season and will not lose a fourth. Julius Randle will be Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.

Roderick: Wisconsin will win the NCAA Division I title over Florida in a very close game. I just think the experience and that ugly game is made for college basketball and will prove successful. And I also think this could possibly prompt more talk to making it mandatory for players to attend college for 2 years because of experience proving this tournament to be so valuable as well as the obvious money factor.

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