Best seed prognosis: According to the FiveThirtyEight version, high seed Duke gets the best chance of advancing to the Final Four at the whole area (53 percent probability) in addition to the best odds of winning the national title (19 percent).
The Blue Devils are led by four soon-to-be first-round draft picks, such as Zion Williamson, one of the most significant abilities in recent memory. Duke is a walking highlight reel on the offensive end and much stingier on defense than many may realize. This is one of Mike Krzyzewski’s most-balanced teams and projects to be his first since 2010 to position inside the top six at Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted offense and protection metrics. That team won the national title.1
What this group lacks, however, is signature along the perimeter. Duke shoots a ghastly 30.2 percent from outside the arc, the worst marker one of tournament-qualifying teams. In an offensive age increasingly dominated by space and perimeter scoring, then the Blue Devils could match the trend punishing the rim.
On the opposite side of the area is that the winner of the Big Ten conference tournament, Michigan State. As their benefit, the No. 2 Spartans have the honour of a potential matchup from the top overall seed in the Elite Eight. Head coach Tom Izzo was none too pleased. The Spartans are pummeled by accidents but remain among the most balanced teams in the country, ranking inside the top eight in Pomeroy’s adjusted offense and defense metrics.
Sneaky Final Four pick: No. 4 Virginia Tech. Led by the star pairing of Kerry Blackshear Jr. and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, the Hokies are a balanced squad which ranks one of Pomeroy’s Top 25 teams on both offense and defense. Although they have dropped eight times, just two of these were double-digits. Virginia Tech also includes a not-altogether-unfriendly attraction, with exceptionally winnable opening matches against Saint Louis (87% ) and the Mississippi State-Liberty winner (63 percent) before most probably running into Duke’s juggernaut. We provide the Hokies a decent 25 percent chance from the Blue Devils — and a 54 percent chance against whoever emerges from the bottom of the region if they do manage to knock off Duke.
Don’t wager : No. 3 LSU. With trainer Will Wade embroiled in a pay-for-play scandal and his team likely overvalued as a 3-seed, the Bayou Bengals may be ripe for an upset in this particular tournament. They ranked only 18th in Pomeroy’s ratings — roughly the quality of a No. 5 seed — thanks in large part to a defense which didn’t even decode the nation’s top 60 in corrected efficacy. (This showed up in the 51 second-half points that they permitted to Florida while shedding their first match of the SEC tournament.) Their NCAA course is not very easy, either: Yale is no pushover for a No. 14 seed, nor is possible second-round opponent Maryland, also we all give the Tigers a mere 26 percent chance of beating Michigan State if the groups meet in the Sweet Sixteen. This is easily the lowest-rated top-three seed within the field.
Cinderella see: No. 11 Belmont. The East is top-heavy, together with Duke and Michigan State soaking up most of the Last Four chances. However, the Bruins are still an intriguing lower-seeded group due to an impressive crime led by do-everything swingman Dylan Windler. According to Pomeroy, Belmont ranks 20th in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency (and second nationally in raw points per game behind Gonzaga), while Windler was one of just three players nationally to average 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. Although the Bruins do need to acquire a play-in match against Temple just to produce the area of 64 — we provide them a 59 percent chance — they’d have a very competitive 39 percent likelihood of bothering Maryland in the first round and a much better opportunity against the LSU/Yale winner.
Player to watch: Cassius Winston, Michigan State
Three decades back, zzo said he thought his 6-foot-1 freshman could be Michigan State’s best passer because Magic Johnson. The Spartans’ do-everything point guard — one of the greatest facilitators from the nation — is supporting his coach’s comment. Just Murray State’s Ja Morant, a surefire lottery pick in this year’s draft, has a greater assist speed than Winston (46.0 percent). And behind Winston, the Spartans help on the maximum rate of field goals in the nation.
The junior also happens to be Izzo’s top scorer and among the nation’s greatest perimeter threats, shooting better than 40 percent from beyond the arc. As harms have sapped the Spartans of the on-court production, Winston has elevated his game to compensate. As he put it to The Athletic,”I must do a whole lot for my own team to win”
Likeliest first-round upsets: No. 9 Central Florida over No. 8 VCU (47 percent); No. 11 Belmont* over No. 6 Maryland (39 percent); No. 10 Minnesota over No. 7 Louisville (34 percent)
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