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Early College Basketball Championship Tournament / March Madness Predictions for the 2015-16 NCAA Basketball Season

Early College Basketball Championship Tournament / March Madness Predictions for the 2015-16 NCAA Basketball Season

The madness that is college hoops is back! Yes, yes, the real madness doesn’t start for four more months, but there’s nothing stopping us from looking into the future and predicting just how March Madness will play out this year, bracket and all.

We’ve already filled up one such bracket of the 64 schools that will eventually shrink down to four, down to one national champion and here’s what came out. Take a look at the entire bracket below, and let’s discuss how/why the Final Four will come to be, and who a couple of the ever elusive March Madness sleepers will be this year.

Meanwhile, check our our previews of some of the mid-major conferences, namely the AAC, Conference USA and West Coast Conference.

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2015-16 March Madness Predictions


Bracket-busting Sleepers – Cal and Valparaiso

[sc:NCAAB240banner ]In just about every tournament, there are always bound to be a couple sleepers that will end up busting a ton of brackets within the first couple of days. This year, look for those teams to be Cal and Valparaiso.

Big things are expected of the Golden Bears this season, especially after they landed not one, but two top 10 recruits in Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb to team up with their trio of talented upperclassmen. They’re tipped to take down mighty Arizona in the Pac-12 and are even +1,500 to win the national title.

However, it’s more than likely that the Golden Bears struggle in the early going as they take time to learn how to play together, which will cost them a particularly high seed in the tournament. But expect the Bears to finally start living up to their potential just in time for the tourney. That great potential should allow them to topple a particularly high seed, in this case No. 1 Maryland, as the Bears book an Elite Eight berth.

Speaking of Maryland, Valparaiso almost caused a big upset of the Terps in last year’s tournament as a No. 13 seed. Just about the entire team that played in that game will return this season – reigning Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year Vashil Fernandez gained a fourth year of eligibility – which is why the Crusaders could be a force to be reckoned with come March.

Don’t be the least bit surprised if Valpo is the lowest seed standing in the tourney. We have them going on to the Elite Eight as a No. 10 seed after they dispatched both a No. 2 seed (Villanova) and a No. 3 (Oklahoma) in the East Regional before succumbing to No. 1 North Carolina.

Marcus Paige

The Final Four – UNC vs. Gonzaga, Kansas vs. Duke

The Tar Heels are a lot of people’s pick for the Final Four this season, and it’s not hard to see why. UNC, which is priced at+1,000 to claim the national title, brings back a ton of talent and experience in just about every position, which makes the Heels arguably the deepest team in the nation.

The health of senior Marcus Paige will play a big part in the Tar Heels’ run to Houston, but there might just be enough talent for UNC to survive another Paige injury. Yes, they’re that deep.

North Carolina comes out of the East Regional and faces Gonzaga out of the West. The Zags have been ridiculed as perpetual tournament chokers come tournament time, but this could just be their year. The one-two-three punch of 6-10 Kyle Wiltjer, 6-11 Domantas Sabonis and 7-1 Przemek Karnowski in the frontcourt will be simply overwhelming to defend, which is why the Zags come out of the region which also includes Arizona, Cal and Maryland.

The South Regional also figures to be fiercely contested, with Kentucky, defending champion Duke, Iowa State and Michigan State filling the top four seeds. But the world won’t get to witness the much-anticipated Coach Cal vs. Coach K Elite Eight matchup as Tom Izzo and his always dangerous Spartans oust the No. 1 seed Wildcats in the Sweet 16.

However, the Blue Devils – who have once again reloaded with four top 25-ranked freshman recruits (No. 3 Brandon Ingram, No. 11 Chase Jeter, No. 17 Derryck Thornton and No. 24 Luke Kennard) – eventually grab the South’s spot in the Final Four.

Duke will meet up with Kansas, who will come out of the Midwest Regional. Bill Self’s Jayhawks will be led by a bunch of very talented upperclassmen (seniors Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor with juniors Frank Mason III and Wayne Selden Jr.) and could also have a potentially game-changing freshman in Cheick Diallo in the mix. That blend of talent and experience is enough to see the Jayhawks through the challenge of Virginia, Wichita State and Indiana in the Midwest.

Frank Mason

The National Championship – UNC vs. Kansas

North Carolina gets into the national championship game by overcoming Gonzaga in the first Final Four. Although the Tar Heels don’t necessarily have the size of the Zags bigs, they do have the depth to throw multiple defenders at the likes of Wiltjer and Karnowski and the advantage in terms of guard play with Paige.

Kansas is the other team to contest the national title as it overcomes Duke. The Blue Devils’ reliance on freshmen catches up with them as the Jayhawks’ experience gives them the edge over Duke’s superior top-end talent.

And so it comes down to UNC vs. Kansas in the final. It’ll be a toss-up seeing as both teams have superior coaching, terrific depth and loads of experience. But in the end, the Jayhawks (+1,400) just about manage to outlast the Tar Heels to claim a fourth national championship.

Can’t wait for March Madness? Create a betting account now and cash in some great college basketball action as you await tourney time.

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Written by Rex

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