After one of the wildest opening weekends to the NCAA Tournament in recent memory, we are now just one week away from the 2016 Final Four, which will be held at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. And if the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 rounds prove to be as exciting as the opening two rounds, we will all be in for a treat this weekend.
At this point in the tournament, there still isn’t a clear-cut favorite to cut down the nets as the 2015-16 college basketball national champion. Last night we saw the Villanova Wildcats, the Oklahoma Sooners, the Kansas Jayhawks, and the Oregon Ducks advance to the Elite 8, and we will see another four teams move on later today.By Sunday night, we will know which four teams will be advancing to next weekend’s Final Four as the champions of their respective regions.
That said, here are our predictions on which teams will still be alive to play in the Final Four next weekend.
- (1) Kansas
- (2) Villanova
It looks as though the tournament selection committee got it right in this region, as No. 1 seeded Kansas is set to square off with No. 2 seeded Villanova with a trip to the Final Four on the line. Given their talent, their depth, and the fact that they are playing better than every other team in the country right now, we like Kansas to prevail here. The Jayhawks haven’t lost a game since January 26, and that won’t be happening this weekend. Expect to see Bill Self’s squad advance to their first Final Four since the 2011-12 season.
- (1) Oregon
- (2) Oklahoma
As is the case in the South region, we will be seeing a No. 1 seed (Oregon) taking on a No. 2 seed (Oklahoma) for the right to make the trip to play in Houston next weekend. While the Sooners may have the best player in the country (Buddy Hield), we are going with the Ducks in this matchup. Dana Altman’s squad is long, athletic, deep, and experienced, and as we have learned all season, they can play with and beat any team in the country when they are firing on all cylinders.
- (1) North Carolina
- (5) Indiana
- (6) Notre Dame
- (7) Wisconsin
North Carolina is the clear-cut favorite in this region – and we are picking them to advance to the Final Four – but that doesn’t mean the Tar Heels won’t be tested along the way. They will be facing red-hot Indiana in the Sweet 16 and either Wisconsin or Notre Dame (we believe it will be the Irish) in the Elite 8. When it comes down to it, North Carolina is arguably the most talented team in the country, and when they are playing up to their potential, we just don’t see another team in the field who can beat the Tar Heels – Kansas included.
- (1) Virginia
- (4) Iowa State
- (10) Syracuse
- (11) Gonzaga
The Midwest may be the most wide-open region in field. It should come as no surprise that No. 1 seeded Virginia is currently the favorite to represent this region in the Final Four, but we actually believe that it will be the lowest remaining seed (No. 11 Gonzaga) who will prevail here. The heavily experienced Bulldogs are peaking just at the right time, and their forward duo of Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis will be a matchup nightmare for any team they may face. Expect to see Mark Few lead his team the first Final Four appearance in program history this weekend.