Panthers pick ’em: City College students and staff predict their Final Four

A City College student fills out an NCAA tournament bracket before the round of 64 begins Thursday morning. Express staff and City College coaches weighed in on who they thought would win this year's championship. | Photo by Phoenix Kanada | Staff Photographer | pkanada.express@gmail.com

Nick Pecoraro

Sports Editor

Npecoraro.express@gmail.com

 

March Madness is officially underway.

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is widely regarded as one of the best—if not the best—championships in all of sports. Upsets, buzzer-beaters, unpredictability and Cinderella stories all add to the drama and excitement of the tournament.

The so-called experts pencil in their brackets each year for bragging rights in office pools, but nobody has the exact formula. Warren Buffet once offered $1 billion to anyone who could correctly fill out a perfect bracket. This year, Buffet is offering $1 million a year for life to anyone who can pull off the ultimate Cinderella run. According to an article on NCAA.com, the odds of picking a perfect bracket are 1 in 9.2 quintillion.

Regardless of whether or not you can make more correct picks than your buddies, or if your bracket is busted in the opening rounds, filling out a bracket and following along for the next two weeks is just plain fun.

The brackets were revealed Sunday for the 68-team field that will vie for college hoops supremacy.

Virginia, who is in the midst of its finest season in school history at 31-2, is the No. 1 overall seed. The Cavaliers have never won a national title. Also in search of their first championship are the Xavier Musketeers, the No. 1 seed in the west region. Xavier won its first Big East regular season championship this season. Three-time champion Kansas and Villanova, who returns four players from its 2016 national championship team, round out the other regional top seeds.

The Express asked its staff writers and City College athletic coaches to make their predictions on who they think will reach the Final Four and who will cut the nets down in San Antonio this year.

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Julian Tack—Staff Writer, Sac City Express

Final Four—Virginia, North Carolina, Villanova, Duke

Champion—Virginia

“Virginia has the best record. They’ve only got two losses, and they’re on fire,” says Tack.

 

Dave Pacheco—City College head wrestling coach

Final Four—Virginia, North Carolina, Purdue, Duke

Champion—Virginia

“I chose the highest ranked team from each region that has a wrestling team on their campus. Virginia is my overall champion. Same reason,” says Pacheco.

 

Heather Roegiers—Editor-in-Chief, Sac City Express

Final Four—Villanova, North Carolina, Kansas, Tennessee

Champion—North Carolina

“I’m going for North Carolina because I think (UNC point guard) Joel Berry is hot,” says Roegiers.

 

Dannie Walker—City College head football coach

Final Four—Arizona, North Carolina, Michigan State, Villanova

Champion—North Carolina

Walker likes the Tarheels to win because of their “experience and defense.” UNC is the defending NCAA champion.

 

Neill Little—Former Editor-in-Chief, Sac City Express

Final Four—North Carolina, Arizona, Michigan State, Villanova

Champion—Arizona

“It’s all or nothing for (Arizona),” says Little. “No team really stands out this year. I really think any of the Top 15 could win this year. (Arizona freshman center DeAndre) Ayton is hot right now too, looking really unstoppable in the Pac-12 tournament.”

 

Andrew Jones—City College men’s head basketball coach

Final Four—Virginia, Michigan, Villanova, Michigan State

Champion—Michigan State

“MSU has two probable lottery picks and a coach who’s been there before and emphasizes rebounding,” says Jones. “That said, I probably get one Final Four team right. I have a history of losing to my brother, father and son in our family pool.”

 

Derek Sullivan—City College head baseball coach

Final Four—Cincinnati, Xavier, Michigan State, Villanova

Champion—Xavier

“(I’m) partial to the Big East,” says Sullivan, who played baseball in the same conference at St. John’s University.

 

Jason Reed—Staff Writer, Sac City Express

Final Four—North Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky, Michigan State

Champion—Michigan State

“I got Michigan State because I believe they’ve been the most underrated team all season long,” says Reed.

 

Julia Allender—City College women’s head basketball coach

Final Four—Villanova, Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina

Champion—Villanova

“I’m a huge (Villanova head coach) Jay Wright fan, and they play tough, hard-nosed, selfless basketball,” says Allender. “They have veteran players who’ve been in this position before and depth.”

 

Nick Pecoraro—Sports Editor, Sac City Express

Final Four—Villanova, Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan State

Champion—Villanova

After crumpling up a number of brackets, I decided to ride with the Wildcats because they have championship experience and at least two players that can make an impact on the next level.

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The tournament round of 64 begins Thursday.

So, to employers and professors around the country, if you have some people calling in “sick” from work, or if you have some more eyes focused on their phones in class than usual over the next couple of days, there’s probably an easy explanation: It’s Madness.