Marching forward

The Blueprint Sports Staff's March Madness picks.

Jack Quinn '17

The Blueprint Sports Staff's March Madness picks.

Mike Cleland '17, Sports Staff

It’s that time again. March Madness is upon us. Defined by Cinderella stories and heartbreaking games, the NCAA tournament is the most exciting part of college basketball. You’re probably sitting in class staring at your phone, deciding on if you should choose Middle Tennessee over Minnesota in the first round, or if you should take Gonzaga all the way. Don’t worry. Here, I will break down the four No. 1 seeds.

Kansas (28-4): Led by senior point guard and Naismith Trophy favorite Frank Mason, the Jayhawks are going to be a tough team to beat in the Midwest Region. Kansas has arguably the best backcourt in the country with Frank Mason, averaging 20.8 ppg, and Devonte’ Graham, averaging 13.1 ppg. They also boast freshman phenom Josh Jackson who is expected to be selected in the top 5 in this years’ NBA Draft. Some might say that the lack of depth at the center position will hurt the team down the stretch, however after the injury to Udoka Azubuike, fifth year senior Landen Lucas has filled the role nicely, averaging 7.9 ppg along with 8.9 rpg. The one thing the Jayhawks have struggled with all season is their defense.

Gonzaga (32-1): All season Gonzaga has been criticized for not having a tough schedule of opponents. However, any team that finishes the regular season with only one loss deserves some credit. Powered by junior guard Nigel Williams-Goss, the Zags may surprise many college basketball fans this year. Their offense ranks in the top 5 in the country with 84.6 ppg, while the defense only allows 61.2 ppg. While the conference schedule doesn’t impress many, the strength of the non-conference schedule is very underrated. The team boasts wins over ranked teams such as Iowa State, Florida, Arizona and three wins over ranked Saint Mary’s. All of these teams were also selected in the tournament this year. All in all, the Zags are a good choice to have in the Final Four.

North Carolina (27-7): In a season where the team could never quite hit full stride, the Tar Heels were still able to grab a No. 1 seed. Averaging 84.9 ppg, UNC is ranked 12th in that category. Like Kansas, the Tar Heels have also struggled with defense, allowing 70.6 ppg which is ranked 130th in the country. The roster does however consist of the ACC Player of the Year in Justin Jackson. Needless to say the Tar Heel roster is also loaded with veterans and experience. Ten of the fifteen players returned from last season after reaching the National Championship game. Loaded with talent, this is not a team to sleep on given that they could start hitting on all cylinders at any moment.

Overall, this year’s March Madness promises to be a good one. There hasn’t been a team that has looked completely dominant the entire season. There will be plenty of bracketbusters to remember and loads of close finishes. Strap on your seatbelts because it’s time to go dancing.