Final 4 Consensus Picks
March 15, 2017
By VI News
Villanova capped off the second championship in school history by hitting a three-pointer at the buzzer to beat North Carolina last April. The Wildcats look to become the first repeat champion since Florida in 2006 and 2007 as Villanova is the top overall seed in the tournament and the number one seed in the East region.
Along with Villanova, the three other top seeds are Kansas, Gonzaga, and North Carolina. Only one top seed reached the Final Four last season (North Carolina), while second seeds Villanova and Oklahoma also made the Final Four. The big question heading into this season’s edition of the Final Four in Phoenix is how many top seeds will head to Arizona for the championship?
We polled our experts to provide their Final Four squads, sleeper team, and champion as the results vary across the board. North Carolina leads the way with six handicappers predicted the Tar Heels to win the title, while three experts selected Villanova to repeat.
Kansas seeks to become the first team to win a national title without winning a conference tournament game. Handicapper Don Anthony believes the Jayhawks will benefit from the quick exit, “I think losing early in the Big 12 tournament was huge for this club. This team gets over a week off and they will be rested. I believe KU has the most talent of any team in the nation. They are also experienced with super coach Bill Self and featuring upperclassmen in Frank Mason, Landen Lucas, and Devonte Graham. Keys to going far in the tournament: #1 seed, experience, excellent coaching, and stud guards.
Even though Duke made a run to the ACC tournament title, expert Joe Nelson doesn’t believe the Blue Devils will win it all. “While the Blue Devils are talented enough to make that happen, the path at the bottom of the East bracket might be more daunting than it appears. In two of the past three seasons when Duke has ranked outside the top 30 in defensive efficiency, they lost in the Round of 64 with the best recent showing for a Coach K team with a marginal defense being last season’s Sweet 16 run when Duke had a soft path narrowly beating UNC-Wilmington and Yale before getting blown out by Oregon."
As far as sleepers go, Southern Methodist is a popular selection among the stable of handicappers. Dave Cokin has faith that SMU can reach the second weekend, “The Mustangs are my 10th-highest power rated team, so I believe their #6 seeding indicates they're a value team for anyone doing brackets. They should handle the USC/PC play in winner and I think SMU has an excellent shot to knock off Baylor. I would certainly favor Villanova over the Mustangs in an Elite 8 duel, but I like their chances of winning three games prior to that point.”
Middle Tennessee State pulled the biggest upset of the tournament last season by knocking out second-seed Michigan State. Kyle Hunter believes MTSU can take the next this time around, “I know the Blue Raiders are a popular bet in the first game against Minnesota, but I think the Blue Raiders have a good shot at reaching the Sweet 16. Their likely second round matchup would be Butler, and I think MTSU would match up well with them. I like the fact that they have experience from last year's tournament. I think they are no longer a team who is just happy to get here and win one game. MTSU has the talent and the experience to make a run, and the bracket sets up nicely for them to do just that.”
Here are the Final Four picks from our handicappers:
6-1 Picks, 43-19 G-Plays, +3,955 TY
7-0 Last Night, +3,349 This Year
14-3 L17, 20-4 L24 Win Streak
4-1 Picks, 3-1 G-Plays, 12-4 Totals
9-2 L11 G-Plays, 9-3 L12 Picks
3 Wins in a Row, 13-4 Run
3-1 Thursday, 4-0 Guarantees
4-1 G-Plays, 6-3 Picks, 6-2 Totals
20-12 L4 Days, 9-4 Totals, +1,893
5-3 L3 Days, +1,345 This Year
6-3 L5 Days, 18-9 College Streak
5-1 L6 Guarantees, +1,422 Overall
6-0 L6 G-Plays, 24-12 L36 Picks
69-43 Picks, 21-11 G-Plays, +2,775
3-0 Wednesday, 6-1 L7 Picks
4-2 L3 Days, 15-7 L22 Guarantees
10-5 L15 Guaranteed Plays
5-2 Saturday, 20-11 L31 Picks
6-2 L8, 22-11 L33 Guarantees
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