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March 16, 2017

Time for Sid to share the knowledge. I realize it is kind of late since you have already prepared your bracket by the time FOCUS hits the newstands. So basically all I am doing is confirming your picks.

Here are my thoughts on the four regions. As of today, there are 64 schools six wins away from winning the national title. And as always, March Madness will throw some surprises at us. Quality entertainment.

I like defending champion Villanova to come out of the East. They are the top seed in the whole tournament. But the Wildcats will have to survive the most competitive region of them all if they are to repeat. Villanova will likely have to beat Wisconsin and Florida just to get to the Elite 8 where #2 seed Duke will likely be waiting.

Duke will have to take care of SMU or Baylor to make it to the Elite 8. My team to watch in this region is Marquette.

I too believe the West region is the easiest. I am basing this on the fact that top seeded Gonzaga has only been a No. 1 seed once before. And that did not go well back in 2013 when the Bulldogs were eliminated in the round of 32 by Wichita State. The Zags have made a habit of steaming through a relatively easy conference schedule and are rarely ready for quality opponents in a matter of a few days.

The West contains five of the top 25 teams in the nation according to many rankings, two of which (Notre Dame and West Virginia) are loaded in the Zags’ half of the bracket. I like West Virginia as a Cinderella choice in this region. The Mountaineers can be dangerous. Assuming West Virginia and Fighting Irish advance through what should be relatively easy first-round tests, their matchup should be one of the best of the second round. I could see the winner upsetting Gonzaga.  

The other side of the bracket also contains its share of strong teams headlined by No. 2 seed Arizona who I have winning the whole thing. Florida State out of the powerful ACC is also in this region.

It seems like Kansas is always the top seed in the Midwest and the Jayhawks are there again. Kansas will need to play defense to win this region as seven of the top 25 most efficient offenses in the nation are in this draw. This includes Oklahoma State who features the most efficient offense in the country. Iowa State is also in the Midwest and the Cyclones are the only school to beat the Jayhawks in Kansas this season.

Actually, Iowa State is my team to watch here along with Michigan. The Wolverines are playing their best ball now and are coming off a Big Ten Tournament Championship.

There will be plenty of scoring in this region as six teams in the region rank in the top 20 nationally in three point shooting percentage. This will lead to upsets and surprises which is why I think Kansas will not survive this region.

The South region is wide open though most of you likely have North Carolina as your winner. The Heels did hold onto its  No. 1 seed despite losing two of its last four games, including this season’s second loss to Duke.

I see a handful of contenders who could beat North Carolina. I will admit that the Tar Heels have it relative easy early on. But the lower half of the region is loaded.  

I like Kentucky coming out of this region as the No. 2 seed. The Wildcats will be tournament tough if they can survive the likes of Wichita State and UCLA to meet North Carolina in the Elite 8.

Speaking of Wichita State, the Shockers are my Cinderella pick to make it to the Final Four. I also like UCLA in this region. The Bruins likely have the best player in the entire tournament in Lonzo Ball. It would be exciting to see a star carry his team to the Final Four.

But in the end, I like Arizona to win it all. Good luck to you and your bracket(s).






















































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