8 March Madness 2018 Title Contenders

8 March Madness 2018 Title Contenders

With 68 teams going to the Big Dance, there’s never a shortage of good college basketball teams competing for the title. But, only a handful of teams really have a realistic shot at winning it all. Here are 8 March Madness 2018 title contenders.

March Madness Predictions For 2018

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You already know that picking the March Madness winner is practically impossible. If not, do you really think Warren Buffett would offer $1 million bucks in his March Madness Contest? (Double if one of his two Nebraska favorites win).  

Even if Selection Sunday is still a couple of weeks away, there’s still plenty of college basketball left along with a quagmire of controversy which could significantly change the March Madness odds come tournament time.

Virginia Cavaliers

Picking the No. 1 in the nation might seem a good bet, but sometimes things aren’t as they seem.

True, Virginia is the top team in the AP Top 25 for the third consecutive week. They recently edged out Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh in a convincing way and improved their record to 18-1 over their last 19 games, bagging the ACC regular season title outright in the process.

But, historically only one team has entered this tournament with an offense ranked lower than 21 in the KenPom era (since 2002), and Virginia is ranked outside the top 30.

Does this mean you shouldn’t bet on Virginia to win the 2018 national title? Maybe, but not quite because you’d be leaving out a big factor of what makes this Cavaliers team excel: its defense.

In all 16 seasons that the KenPom rankings have been available, there hasn’t been a team as good as the Cavaliers on defense. If defense does, in fact, win championships then you can see Virginia cutting down the nets.

Michigan State Spartans

The Spartans are the No. 2 team in the nation for a reason, they have a top 10 team in efficiency on both offense and defense and have what it takes to win a championship.

The Spartans are currently the only team in the country that boasts a top 10 ranking in both those metrics and that’s nothing to sneer at.

Even if the Spartans are lacking wins over teams in KenPom’s efficiency rankings and that they’re at times careless with the ball, it’s undeniable they also have players who make them deadly-efficient at winning.

Both Jared Jackson Jr. and Cassius Winston are of NBA talent and they’ll be picked up in the NBA Draft that’s a few months away.

Can they win the championship this year? Perhaps, but if they don’t solve their problems in turning the ball over they’ll struggle against teams such as Auburn, Xavier, Villanova, and Virginia.

If they manage to solve that problem, or at least keep it to a minimum, they may be the most dangerous threat in the tournament.

Purdue Boilermakers

When Purdue is able to move the ball quickly, they’re lethal. This was evident enough in how they routed the Gophers in Purdue’s final home game.

In fact, they’re among only a handful of teams, such as Michigan State and Gonzaga, ranking in the Top 20 for both offensive efficiency and defense.

With players such as big man Isaac Hass, who is incredibly good at posting up, and at least four other players shooting above 39% from three-point range the Boilermakers are a well-balanced team that’s hard to beat.

Even players who do not take shots that often are extremely efficient in scoring and this makes them very dangerous to opposing defenses. They also have a lot of experience in their ranks with four starting seniors and one sophomore, Carson Edwards, who is good at scoring.

Villanova Wildcats

You could argue that the Wildcats lack of defensive efficiency will land them in hot water once the Big Dance starts. However, you’d be foolish to overlook what this team does have: raw talent.

The Wildcats All-American duo of Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges are as good as they come; when you throw in Donte DiVincenzo, it makes them all the more dangerous.

Villanova is also among the top teams in shooting and doesn’t turn the ball over which makes for another incredible combination.

Arizona Wildcats

The Wildcats can’t boast to be among the top 15 teams in the AP Poll and they also have some major deficiencies on the defensive end.

But, you’d not do well to ignore what the combination Allonzo Trier and Deandre Ayton bring to this team. Trier, however, was ruled ineligible after testing positive for using a banned performance-enhancing drug so the Wildcats may have the rug pulled under their feet before the tournament even started

Though Coach Sean Miller now has a titanic undertaking ahead of him, the Wildcats might make some waves when the tournament starts.

Gonzaga Bulldogs

The Bulldogs aren’t a team to boast about this season; but, they’ve nevertheless earned a top-20 ranking on both defense and offense.

Even if they don’t have that many quality wins, they’re a balanced squad that knows how to win games. Johnathan Williams and Killian Tillie are as good inside defenders as there are and Rui Hachimura is the type of player that could be an X-factor for this team.

Duke Blue Devils

Duke is still struggling on defense; but, under the leadership of one of the nation’s top coaches, the Blue Devils could be a force to be reckoned with and there’s no reason not to believe they can win the title.

Even if Marvin Bagley III can’t play due to injury, Duke is far short from not having talent with the likes of Grayson Allen who has the experience to rally the squad to win.

Kansas Jayhawks

The Jayhawks don’t have a lot of depth on the inside and they also tend to depend on jump shots too much. But, they nevertheless earned a win against the Sooners which should silence any naysayer arguing against what this team could accomplish.

Kansas also has more quality wins than practically any other team in the NCAA’s new quadrant system. Even if there’s still a long road to travel to a championship title, the Jayhawks have just a good a shot as any other elite team to cut down the nets. 

Which of these teams do you see cutting down the nets in March Madness 2018? Make sure to make your picks early if you don't want to miss out on all the prizes you can win in our March Madness Sweet 16 Bracket Contest

 
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