It's time for Cinderella to step aside

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

There were plenty of upsets to be had in the first week of the NCAA Tournament and with the likes of Nevada, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Florida State, Syracuse and Loyola (Chicago) still holding on as of Thursday night, there are sure to be plenty more.

While the upsets are great, this is the week for Cinderella to step aside and let the big boys have at it. It's time to let Duke, Kansas, Villanova, Kentucky and Gonzaga all rise to the top. While my bracket turned to dust when Arizona let Buffalo beat them on the first day, I believe that is exactly what will happen.

On Selection Sunday, Kentucky coach John Calipari was not happy being in the same quadrant with teams such as Virginia, Arizona, Cincinnati and Tennessee. Now, the highest-seeded team Kentucky might face to reach the Final Four is a No. 7 seed in Nevada. Kansas State is the only other Power Five school remaining in the regional.

Texas A&M and Michigan have both had lulls this season, but seem to be playing well at the right time. Florida State just got done beating Xavier as a No. 9 seed and Gonzaga has been one of the most consistent teams all year, going 32-4. Gonzaga will take care of business against Florida State, setting up an interesting matchup with a Michigan team that has been on fire. In the end, Gonzaga pulls through and makes back-to-back trips to the Final Four.

Villanova is the only No. 1 seed destined to make a trip to San Antonio. I say that, but Villanova's most difficult game will come in the Sweet 16 against "Press Virginia," otherwise known as West Virginia. The Mountaineers will swarm Villanova for 40 minutes and if they aren't ready for it, it could be a long night. Villanova will be, though, and as a result will advance to the Elite 8 to face Texas Tech. The Red Raiders will play a depleted Purdue team and win with ease. Texas Tech has the athletes to compete with Villanova, but the experience of Villanova will win out and advance them to the Final Four.

The final region has Kansas taking on Clemson and Duke taking on Syracuse. I had the Tigers losing in the first round to 12th-seeded New Mexico State, so congratulations to them for getting this far. Their season will come to an end in the Sweet 16 to the eventual national champions, though. While Syracuse is a national power, don't we all want to see Kansas take on Duke? We will see that matchup and Kansas pulls it out in a close one.

Everybody had left Kentucky and its freshman class for dead a month ago, but the Wildcats will be playing in the Final Four a week from now. The Wildcats will take one more step by beating Gonzaga and playing for a national championship. In order to win the championship, Kentucky will have to beat the Kansas Jayhawks, one of the more experienced teams left in the field. Kansas will also be the highest-seeded team Kentucky will face all tournament long. Kentucky has had a great ride over the last couple weeks and that will continue through next weekend, but Kansas will put an end to that ride in the championship game, as the Jayhawks will reign supreme, 72-65.

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