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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

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And then there were four: The Signal Staff picks their Final Four in the Big Dance

Natalie Winters/The Signal

Natalie Winters/The Signal

With an entire nation picking and choosing which NCAA men’s basketball team they think will reign supreme during the March Madness Tournament, The Signal Staff Writers Andrew Kirk and Ryan McLaughlin give you their insight to who will walk away as the 2015 NCAA Tournament Champions.
The Signal Sports Beat Leader, Ryan McLaughlin:
Rather than describe how I anticipate each of the impending 32 games will pan out, here are my predictions for the Final Four teams left standing (in no particular order).
1. Kentucky
The Wildcats of Kentucky continue their regular season flawless record well into the tournament. With a chance to become the first team to go undefeated through an entire season since 1976, this juggernaut of a collegiate team could potentially be strong enough to beat down some NBA teams. With no glaring weakness presented by this team, their most impressive on-the-court statistic would have to be the staggeringly low 35.5 percent average field goal percentage of the Wildcats opponents.
2. Arizona
Another wildcat team with a top tier defense, Arizona enters the tournament as the number two seed in the western bracket of the tournament. After finishing the regular season with a 31-3 record, the Wildcats will make it far into the tournament on the backs of their star point guard, T.J. McConnell, and freshman, Stanley Johnson. Their combination of half court defense and tenacious rebounding has proven to be effective against tough opponents, boasting a 3-0 record against top nationally ranked opponents.
3. Villanova
There must be a trend here with wildcats and strong basketball teams, (not sure what that connection might be) but the Wildcats of Villanova are primed for a deep run into the tournament this year. While only losing two games all season, ‘Nova does an excellent job in two aspects of the game in particular: holding onto the ball and perimeter shooting. With an impressive 38.9 percent from beyond the arc, Villanova can give any team a run for their money as long as they can shoot the three ball.
4. Iowa State
Last, but most certainly not least, we have the Iowa State Cyclones. About time that something other than a wildcat made it into the Final Four and if any team can do it, it’s the Big 12 tournament champion Cyclones. With an astounding six players on their active roster averaging at least 9.8 points per game, this up tempo offense does an excellent job of spreading even the best of teams thin while on the court and getting to the rack. With the two-headed monster of Monte Morris and Georges Niang up front, this Iowa State team is my dark horse to take the whole thing.
The Signal Staff writer, Andrew Kirk, shares his Final Four predictions for 2015:
Midwest Region:  Kentucky. I have the Wildcats winning this region on the simple fact that they are 34-0 this season. The only way that they would run into trouble would be in the Elite Eight when they face a team like Kansas or Notre Dame. Even still, Kentucky will more than likely be the team to beat.  I do not see a team like Kansas winning the Midwest because they are a team that always bust my brackets in prior years. If Notre Dame was in a different bracket I would take them to the Final Four, but Kentucky will not be tested much until the Final Four.
West Region:  Arizona.  Last year, Arizona was my middle team and they got up to the Elite Eight against Wisconsin.  After winning the Pac 12 title over the past weekend, I see them getting past teams like Baylor and Wisconsin due to them being a faster team up and down the court. I like Wisconsin, but they struggled against Michigan State last Sunday in the Big 10 title game. I do not see them getting past Arizona if they cannot easily beat Michigan State.
East:  Northern Iowa. My biggest surprise team in the Final Four is the Northern Iowa Panthers. This region is wide open as teams in it are ones that I do not trust much in Virginia, Oklahoma and Louisville. Villanova (the top team) is in the Big East conference which is a weak conference in my opinion. Overall, if you ask ten people their picks for this region, you will have four different teams in it. I’ll pick the Missouri Valley champions, Northern Iowa.
South: Duke. With Duke having their best player in, Jahil Okafor, they stand a chance. While Duke has struggled and lost in the ACC tourney semi finals to Notre Dame, I believe Coach K will get his boys back to the Final Four. The only team I think will matchup well with them is Iowa State. They both run the same style of offense.
National Champion:  Kentucky Wildcats.  It is hard to pick against Kentucky due to the fact that they have not lost all season.  Head Coach John Calipari knows how to run a team, and I see the undefeated Wildcats cutting down the nets on April 7.

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And then there were four: The Signal Staff picks their Final Four in the Big Dance