Sports writers declare Final Four picks

by Sports Editor Dustin Pollard, Staff Writer Mike Ezekiel, Student Writer Rabun Wright and Staff Writer Kadin Pounders

Dustin Pollard Sports Editor

Kentucky – The Wildcats are 34-0, so I honestly do not know why I need to explain why the team will be in the Final Four for the fourth time in the last five years. The defense is suffocating and its frontcourt is easily the best in the nation.

Arizona – I think Arizona’s athletes will be too much for Wisconsin in the Elite Eight matchup. Freshman Stanley Johnson will be a lottery pick in July, and T.J. McConnell is a veteran point guard who has a knack for making plays.

Michigan State – The Spartans have won four of their last five games and should have beaten the Badgers in the Big Ten Championship. This has not been the best season for Tom Izzo’s squad, but he usually finds a way to make noise in the tournament.

Duke – Freshman phenom Jahlil Okafor may be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. He is the first freshman to ever win the ACC Player of the Year Award. This team is one of coach Mike Krzyzewski’s more talented teams in recent years.

Championship game – Kentucky over Duke. The only thing I question about Kentucky is can they beat the New York Knicks? This team is so good, the players forgot to cut the nets after winning the SEC Tournament. Four players are projected to go in first round.

Mike Ezekiel Staff Writer

Notre Dame – I bet this pick raised your eyebrow. Kentucky has the most talented team, but so did UNLV in 1991. Meanwhile, the Irish just won the ACC — the best conference. Notre Dame’s high octane offense will lead it to the Final Four.

Arizona – The Wildcats are one of the hottest teams in the nation, dominating the Pac-12 tournament. Arizona is one of the better defensive teams in the country, holding opponents to 58.6 points per game. Stanley Johnson and T.J. McConnell shoot close to 50 percent.

Villanova – Villanova has won 15 straight games and has long forgotten the Jan. 19 loss to Georgetown. Nova is 5-1 vs. the top 25 and could challenge any team in the nation on both ends of the court. Nova is a tough out if the threes continue to fall.

Iowa State – The Cyclones have depth advantage over Duke. Iowa State has six players averaging at least 9.8 ppg, while Duke has eight players, period. Point guard Monte Morris has a case for the most efficient guard in the nation.

Championship game – Villanova over Arizona. This will be a battle of the Wildcats… although Kentucky is not one of them. Villanova and Arizona’s tale of the tape is almost exactly the same. The difference could be a buzzer beating 3-pointer by Darrun Hilliard II for Nova.

Rabun Wright Student Writer

Kentucky – This Kentucky team led by John Calipari, has the most talented roster in the nation. The Wildcats are 34-0 — enough said.

Wisconsin – Wisconsin plays a methodical, precise game. They turn the ball over less than any other team, and their shots get blocked less than anybody. This will help them survive through the unpredictability of the tournament. Frank Kaminsky dominates inside and can shoot the three.

Michigan State – Tom Izzo is a tournament master. They actually call him “Mr. March” because he has 18 tournament appearances, one National Championship, six Final Fours and eight Elite Eights. Denzel Valentine is also a vital asset for the Spartans.

Duke – The Blue Devils have an incredibly efficient offense, with arguably the best big man in the game this year in freshman Jahlil Okafor. Although they are young, and have a shallow bench, I believe they have enough to make it. Plus, Mike Krzyzewski is just a legend.

Championship game – Kentucky over Michigan State. The Wildcats are the first major conference team to go into the NCAA Tournament undefeated since Indiana in 1975. They have not only won games, but obliterated very good teams. Karl-Anthony Towns will lead them.

Kadin Pounders Staff Writer

Kentucky – Kentucky is 34-0. The starting five for Kentucky could arguably beat the Knicks (if you are as naive as our sports editor). But seriously, this team is good and has shown it can win close games. UK is an obvious pick.

Arizona – The Pac-12 champion destroyed Oregon in the conference championship. I think that momentum could launch the team into the Final Four against a relatively easy field. T.J. McConnell will be the difference maker for the Wildcats.

Virginia – Virginia started 19-0 and finished the regular season with only three losses (UNC, Duke, Louisville). Playing in the ACC, the Cavs will not see anything new in the tournament, and that defense is amazing. I like that in a Final Four team.

Duke – Can you ever count out Duke? No disrespect to Calipari, but Mike Kryzewski is the best coach and motivator in college basketball. Also, Duke has the easiest road to the Final Four in the South region. I am expecting the Blue Devils to breeze by on their way to Indianapolis.

Championship game – Virginia over Arizona. Go ahead and call me crazy for not picking Kentucky but are the Wildcats too perfect to get a little overconfident? That is why Arizona is in. Virginia’s defense is so good, I just can not pick against them.