The Daily Gamecock

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Column: Predicting this season's final four

By no means am I some sort of basketball savant, but more so than in the past, I have been watching a good bit of college basketball this season. It’s kind of hard to keep a close watch with our beloved Gamecocks being, well, just not what we hoped. But hey, we beat a top 10 team this year, so things are looking up.

The best time of the year for sports, March Madness, is about to begin. Yes, technically 68 teams will have a chance to cut down the nets and call themselves champions, but realistically there are only a select few I believe can go the distance this season.


This is the obvious choice as the Wildcats are the nation’s lone undefeated team. Although the team plays a lot of freshmen, they also have experience from last year’s team that made it to the title game, namely the Harrison twins and big man Willie Cauley-Stein. They’ve gotten a ton of production from freshmen players Devin Booker, Tyler Ulis and Karl-Anthony Towns. They’re extremely long on defense, have players than can shoot lights out when called upon and have one of the deepest lineups I’ve ever seen. Look for Kentucky to make another run this year.


Yes, I’m aware they’re coming off a recent loss to Maryland, but quite frankly, I don’t care. This team is the real deal. They return three starters from last year’s Final Four team, including preseason Big Ten Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky, who is having a great season. They may not have a marquee victory up to this point in the season, but Bo Ryan will have his boys ready for the big dance.


Truth be told, I can’t name a single player on Virginia and forgot that they were a one seed in the tournament last year, but this team can play. They may not have big name players like Kentucky or Duke, but they play exceptional team basketball. With a stifling defense, UVA is second in the NCAA in opponents’ field goal percentage at 35.3 percent and gives up only 50 points a game. With only a close home loss to Duke, Virginia is a legitimate title contender this year.


I don’t feel great about this pick, but I have a real hard time doubting Coach Krzyzewski. In the tournament, a skilled big man can take you a long way, and Duke has one in freshman sensation Jahlil Okafor. An offensive juggernaut averaging 18.2 points a game, while shooting 52.5 percent from the floor, Okafor gives Duke the ability to score with the best of them. Their starting five, which includes three freshmen, can match up with any starting five in the league, including Kentucky’s. The problem with Duke is they’re not a very deep team, so they’re going to need their bench to step up big if they want to achieve any success in the tournament.

With all that being said, and the crazy things that happen in the NCAA tournament, I wouldn’t be shocked at all if none of these teams win the title. That’s how March Madness works. But, if I were a gambling man, I would bet that one of these teams cuts down the nets at the end of the season.