National Recruiting Analyst, Midlands
I am going with Kansas over Arizona in the Championship game of my bracket. KU is the team I have liked from the very beginning of the season and I also think that it is the most talented team from top to bottom in the tournament. Arizona is the best defensive team. I do think Kansas got a rough draw in the same bracket as Florida. It is also a risky pick considering the health of center Joel Embiid, who could be a key component in any type of championship push. It is a risky selection, but one that could help me win the bracket challenge if it hits. North Carolina is going to be my sleeper pick this season. It is a team that has been very up and down, but seems to have gotten a great draw and if it can get past a second round death match with Iowa State it could make a push in to the Elite Eight. They have proven tough to beat when scoring over 70 points.
Midlands Recruiting Analyst, Houston
For my bracket, I went with the SEC leader in Florida. This is a veteran, big team that is built for the postseason. Going through the season nearly unbeaten (one loss to UCONN in buzzer-beating fashion), the Gators are primed to take this all the way. Led by Player of the Year Scottie Wilbekin, this team will take the title. Look for a number of close games down the stretch. But no worries as Florida has proven it can win the close ones (Arkansas, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Kansas) or can simply blow the game wide open. Either works for them. As for a sleeper, I'm going with Louisville. And though it seems to be the sexy pick to go with Michigan State, I'm sticking with the Cardinals. The reigning champs are a four seed (not going to even begin with an argument there), but does have its work cut out to reach the Final Four. Going through No. 1 seed Wichita State and possibly Duke, the Louisville team could make a run for it and find itself back where it was a year ago. I don't have the Cardinal winning it all, but did have it making to the round of four.
Midlands Recruiting Analyst, ETx/DFW
I've gone through the bracket once and wound up with a Final Four of Florida, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Louisville, and Louisville repeating as national champions with a win over Florida in the title game. Experience aside, Louisville has one of the three best coaches in the country and a lead guard -- Russ Smith -- who has been going off lately. College ball is all about guard play, and Smith, who scored 42 in an AAC tournament game against Houston, is among the best in the nation. That said, Louisville has a beast inside in Montrezl Harrell, one of my favorite players to watch. Michigan State, now healthy, will be really tough to beat for similar reasons. Tom Izzo is as good as it gets among college basketball coaches. As for a sleeper, is a 4-seed too high to call a sleeper? What about a 6-seed? San Diego State and Baylor, the 4-seed and 6-seed, respectively, in the West region are teams that aren't getting a lot of focus but could change that this weekend and potentially beyond. Baylor's length is absurd. San Diego State has beaten Creighton and Kansas. The older I've gotten, the worse I've gotten at this, but with that caveat in mind, I think that this year could be a tournament of power-conference domination considering how many teams in the 4-to10-seed range -- 19 of the 28 -- come from the ACC, AAC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC.
Midlands Field Reporter, Cen-Tex
I try not to have a preconceived idea of who I think will win it all until I fill out my bracket; this year, I have Florida winning it all. I think the Gators toughest match up will be versus UCLA in the Sweet Sixteen, as both teams had early exits in last year's tournament, but as they currently sit 32-2, I believe this will be the year that Billy Donovan breaks the recent disappointing trend of not making it past the Elite Eight. Doesn't hurt that the team is led by SEC player of the year Scottie Wilbekin and senior Patric Young. As far as a sleeper, I have Creighton making it to the Final Four. Yes, the Bluejays are a three seed, but I can see them besting one seed Arizona and advancing, though I don't think they'll make it into the National Championship game (Wichita State gets the nod). But the best part of March Madness is that this is probably all wrong and [spoiler alert!] no one will go home with Warren Buffet's billion dollars.
Midlands Recruiting Analyst, Upper Midlands
My Final Four is Florida, Iowa State, Arizona, and Duke. I have Arizona knocking off Florida in the final. I think Florida and Arizona are two of the more complete teams in the tournament which is why I've felt all along I'd stick with those two even before the brackets were released. Iowa State is a team that scores the ball with ease, are very balanced, and I felt their draw was very kind. I think Duke outlasts everyone in their region. I think Duke can beat Michigan and can knock off Wichita State, who I have defeating Louisville and Kentucky. Iowa State is a sleeper pick in their own right. One surprise I went with was St. Joseph's advancing to the Sweet 16. I'm not all convinced Connecticut and Villanova are talented enough to make a run leaving them susceptible to a team like St. Joseph's.