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March Madness Projections Unveiled

Intriguing match-ups await.

The NCAA tournament field of 64 officially tipped off on Thursday, March 21st, after a pair of exciting first-four match ups on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

As far as male teams from Iowa go, there’s a bit of a different scene this year. The Iowa Hawkeyes did not hear their name called on selection Sunday for the first time since 2018. Iowa State (2 seed) and Drake (10 seed) get to play in the big dance. They had a possible game against each other in the second round however Drake fell short in their first game. 

Get To Know the Field

If you are not familiar with the tournament’s bracket, there are four regions, East, West, South, and Midwest, with sixteen teams in each region. The overall number one seed went to the reigning champions, the UConn Huskies. The other three number-one seeds are North Carolina, Houston, and Purdue.  

Will the Huskies Make History

CNN senior data reporter, Harry Enten says 25% of people picked UConn to win it all again this year. I, however, do not see this happening. UConn is a phenomenal team under an outstanding head coach, Dan Hurley, but I cannot see them going back to back. The last team that did that was the University of Florida in 2006 and 2007. 

Their sweet sixteen game will be against San Diego State, which will be a rematch of last year’s national championship game. SD State is one of the best defensive teams in the country, and although UConn is an 11-point favorite to win, I do not expect a blowout. I anticipate the Aztecs can put up a hard fight against the Huskies. 

My Prediction

The closest sweet sixteen teams to each state.

My predicted underdog is Marquette. The Golden Eagles are ranked as the seventh-best team in the field. Despite the nation’s assist leader, Tyler Kolek, being injured, Marquette beat Villanova and Providence in the Big East tournament before losing to the aforementioned UConn Huskies. 

They have all the characteristics of making a big run to the title this year, with a top-ten defensive and offensive rating. Although they may not be a true underdog to some because they are a 2 seed, I believe that Marquette will be the team this year. However, I also thought the number 2 seed Kentucky would win in 2022, let’s just say I wasn’t too happy when they lost to the number 15 seed St. Peters.

Freshman Standouts

Duke’s Jared Mccain averaged 13.5 points per game and made a name for himself in Durham. Only two games into the tournament and he has been dominating. In Duke’s first game against Vermont, he had 15 points and 5 rebounds. James Madison University was on a hot streak before their game against Duke, having beaten 5-seed Wisconsin in the first round but McCain came to play. He had 30 points and 8 three-pointers made in their dominant win. 

Throughout the years of the tournament, we have seen more and more freshmen dominating. Last year we saw freshman Brandon Miller at Alabama when he got into his rhythm, he was a force to be reckoned with. We also saw Donovan Clingan with UConn have an outstanding few tournament games. Clingan had 22 points, 16 rebounds, and two blocks in the Big East championship game against Marquette in 2023, and carried that momentum through the NCAA Tournament.

Seeing freshmen succeed and make a name for themselves is truly a sight to watch. I think that knowing that they are younger makes them seem even better.

Be a Part of the Big Dance

While you can no longer submit a bracket on an app like ESPN Tournament Challenge, following the NCAA Tournament is always fun. Whether it’s for upsets, exciting games, or just because it’s on TV, I highly recommend watching at least a few games to get in on the madness. 

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About the Contributor
Emma Steele, Writer
Emma Steele is a sophomore at MHS. This is her first year writing for The Auroran Today. If she is not writing stories she may be spending time with her family, drinking Diet Coke, arguing with someone about their opinion, or watching all of her favorite sports.
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