March Madness Final Four Predictions (NCAA)

Mar 12, 2018

Will Villanova win another title?

Selection Sunday is undoubtedly one of the biggest Sunday’s in sports. After all, whether you’re into college basketball or not, filling out a bracket is something even the most casual fan may partake in. Whether you’re planning on taking part in an office pool, competing against some friends, or just filling out a bracket for the heck of it, we’ve put together a quick rundown of who the experts are selecting.

We asked our featured pundits who they believe will make the final four and why. They’re also giving us their top Cinderella team who they feel could make it deep in the tourney. Just like our rankings take advantage of the consensus below. We’ve also included picks from some of the top sites to provide additional assistance. You won’t find more expert picks anywhere.

The crew at TeamRankings.com stayed up all night crunching the March Madness numbers. Get the best bracket for your pool >>

Featured Experts:
Keith GoldnernumberFire
Mike HumeWashington Post
Bobby SylvesterFantasyPros
Ben Standig – The Sports Capitol

Q1. Who are your picks for the Final Four and why?

South: Cincinnati (2) | West: N. Carolina (2) | East: Villanova (1) | Midwest: Duke (2)
“Our top ranked teams in each region at numberFire.com are Virginia (No. 2), Villanova (No. 1), Duke (No. 2), and UNC (No. 2). Nova and UVA have a 58% and 52% to make the final four respectively and both Duke and UNC check in at over 30%. UVA, though, is the most popular public pick, with almost 30% of all people picking them to win the tournament. As a result, Cincinnati is a great contrarian play to make the Final Four. They are our No. 7 overall team and have a 21% chance to come out of the South. UNC is fortunate to play in the region with the worst No. 1 seed (Xavier), giving them an excellent opportunity to advance. If Duke can get past Michigan State in the Elite 8, their path to the Final Four looks wide open as well.”
Keith Goldner (numberFire)

South: Virginia (1), West: N. Carolina (2) | East: Villanova (1), Midwest: Duke (2)
“It’s not exactly bold, but I skew towards safety with my Final Four picks. Virginia, Villanova, and Duke are our safest bets to win it all this season. While Kansas and Xavier are among our top seeds most likely to fall. I could see West Virginia making a run with their pressing style and high tempo, but I think Villanova is just too good with the basketball, and too experienced to get rattled. Michigan State over Duke is the other pick I waffled over, but I think Duke has been more battle tested this season, given the Spartans’ uncharacteristically poor strength of schedule. I think Duke can get the win if/when they meet in the Sweet 16, which should be appointment viewing.
Mike Hume (Washington Post)

Sout: Cincinnati (2) | West: Gonzaga (4) | East: Villanova (1) | Midwest: Duke (2)
“It can be easy to trust the eye test, trendy stats, and narratives or even the idea that a star player like DeAndre Ayton will carry a team to a title. We have seen all of those work in the past, but those instances were more so the result of a broken clock being right twice a day. When it comes to picking my bracket, I try to forget everything I saw or read all season. Rather, the name of the game is trusting the consensus metrics and building a high outcome plan that also sets you apart from the rest of the field. Both Gonzaga and Cincinnati are top 8 final four threats who are being left out of just about every bracket for sexier choices. I’ll be taking advantage of the biases against both teams to multiply my odds of winning the prize.”
Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

South: Arizona (4) | West: N. Carolina (2) | East: Villanova (1) | Midwest: Michigan St (3)
“Villanova over Arizona. Can Nova really win a title for the second time in three years? Jay Wright’s crew is tough-minded and loaded with shotmakers. As for Arizona, DeAndre Ayton is poised for a monster tournament. Perhaps Arizona found extra motivation from the recent NCAA scandals. They enter the tournament winning five in a row and 8 of 9.”
– Ben Standig (The Sports Capitol)

Q2. What cinderella team do you think has the best chance of making it deep in the tournament and why?

Midwest: Seton Hall (8)
“Seton Hall ranks No. 27 in our nERD efficiency metrics and takes on No. 46 ranked NC State in the first round. They play in a fairly soft region and if they can take down Kansas in the second round (the second-worst No. 1 seed), they would have a nice path to the Elite 8. We give them a 6.7% chance to make it that far — higher than any other team as an 8-seed or lower. Seton Hall’s offense is in the top 20% of the country in terms of efficiency and they have been a high variance team this year. This makes them an ideal candidate to upset higher ranked teams. Other potential cinderellas include Florida State and Butler.”
Keith Goldner (numberFire)

South: Nevada (7)
“I don’t have any double-digit seeds in the Sweet 16, but I think Nevada could potentially get to the Elite Eight if they shoot the ball well. They’ll have two pretty tough defensive matchups in Texas and Cincinnati, but they’re a very capable team that doesn’t turn over the ball and shoots it very well from deep.”
– Mike Hume (Washington Post)

West: Missouri (8)
“Everyone is going bonkers over Arizona because they perceptively have the best player in the country. Without him, they might have missed the tournament altogether. This tells us that Missouri earning an 8 seed without Michael Porter Jr, who is arguably every bit as good as Arizona’s Ayton, means that if they truly do have him back for heavy minutes then they are not only a dangerous cinderella, but are also among the best teams in the entire tournament. Mizzou features three players who should be in the NBA next season, which can only be said about a handful of heavy hitters in the tournament. While Porter’s status is up in the air, the prospect of him dominating is enough to warrant consideration for Missouri to advance to the Final Four.”
Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Midwest: Rhode Island (7)
“Not sure if Atlantic 10 regular season champions Rhode Island counts as Cinderella, but a seventh seed reaching the Sweet 16 by beating Duke isn’t an obvious pick, right? Swing guard E.C. Matthews leads a senior-heavy lineup that can score and forces turnovers.”
– Ben Standig (The Sports Capitol)

Final Four & Championship Picks from Other Experts:

* Links provided to picks and reasoning from each respective expert.

Expert South West East Midwest Champion
FiveThirtyEight Virginia N. Carolina Villanova Duke Virginia
Sports Illustrated Virginia N. Carolina Villanova Michigan St. N/A
Gary Parrish (CBS Sports) Virginia Gonzaga Villanova Duke Duke
Matt Norlander (CBS Sports) Virginia Gonzaga Purdue Michigan St. Virginia
Reid Forgrave (CBS Sports) Virginia N. Carolina Villanova Duke Villanova
Jerry Palm (CBS Sports) Arizona N. Carolina Purdue Duke Duke
Kyle Boone (CBS Sports) Cincinnati N. Carolina Villanova Michigan St. Michigan St.
Chip Patterson (CBS Sports) Arizona N. Carolina Villanova Duke Villanova
Dennis Dodd (CBS Sports) Arizona N. Carolina Villanova Michigan St. N. Carolina
Josh Nagel (CBS Sports) Arizona Michigan Villanova Duke Duke
Lindsay Schnell (USA Today) Arizona N. Carolina Villanova Duke Villanova
Scott Gleeson (USA Today) Virginia Michigan Wichita St. Kansas Virginia
Adam Woodard (USA Today) Arizona N. Carolina Villanova Duke Villanova
Shelby Mast (USA Today) Arizona Xavier Texas Tech Duke Duke
Brad Evans (Yahoo! Sports) Virginia Michigan Villanova Duke Villanova
Seth Davis (The Athletic) Virginia Michigan Villanova Duke Villanova
C.L. Brown (The Athletic) Virginia N. Carolina Villanova Michigan St. Virginia
Brian Hamilton (The Athletic) Virginia Gonzaga Villanova Michigan St. Villanova
Dana O’Neil (The Athletic) Virginia Gonzaga Villanova Michigan St. Virginia
Sam Vecenie (The Athletic) Virginia Gonzaga Villanova Duke Virginia
Bill Bender (Sporting News) Virginia N. Carolina Villanova Duke Virginia
Nick Birdson (Sporting News) Arizona Michigan Villanova Duke Arizona
Ricky O’Donnell (SBNation) Virginia Gonzaga Villanova Michigan St. Villanova
Yahoo User Picks Virginia N. Carolina Villanova Kansas Virginia
ESPN User Picks Virginia N. Carolina Villanova Kansas Virginia

Top voted teams for each region: South: Virginia, West: N. Carolina, East: Villanova, Midwest: Duke

Your 2018 Consensus Predicted NCAA Champion: Villanova!

What's your take? Leave a comment

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