Who will win NCAA title?

By Bill Barrows

Almost every week, I have lunch with a few of my cronies. We discuss sports, current events, social issues, maybe politics will rear its ugly head periodically, but it mostly revolves around sports. This time of year, we discuss spring training baseball, NBA basketball, the upcoming NFL draft and the NCAA basketball tourney. The basic rules are: information is essential, statistics are helpful and opinion is welcome but probably will be challenged. It’s always a healthy discussion with a few personal barbs thrown at any deserving participant.

We are not experts but we frequently research our material and will defend our opinions. However, this year more than any other, we cannot decide on any team that we feel like will win March Madness. The moniker itself is somewhat a misnomer.

It definitely begins in March but culminates in April. Most people credit CBS Broadcaster Brent Musburger with coming up with the term circa 1982. Even that is not necessarily true. Actually in 1939, an official with the Illinois High School Association, Henry V. Porter wrote an article called “March Madness” for the organization’s in house magazine. So from that begins a zany journey that has come to this. Here we are with a sophisticated computer system, with a number of experts called “bracketologists” who can tell us who will make the tourney and why. But they cannot pinpoint who will win it all.

The tourney itself is a big deal to teams, especially mid-major teams like Butler, Ball State or Indiana State, who by and large are members of conferences who probably will only be represented by the champion of said conference. Most of the teams are “at large” teams who are the giants of the college basketball world who miss out on the league tourney championship. That being said, who will win this year’s tourney?

Usually there are a few traditional powerhouse schools, that get all of the ink and are seemingly destined to win. Those would be the likes of Duke, Kentucky, Kansas or North Carolina. There are always teams like Michigan State, UCLA, or Louisville who wait in the wings. However, several of the usual suspects (pun intended) may or may not even make the tourney when it is released on Sunday night. By the time you read this, you will probably have already watched the unveiling on TBS, and some will already have filled out their brackets. My guess is that most will do what I do and use my perceived “expertise” to determine a champion. But based on what I have seen this season and what we have discussed weekly around the square table at an undisclosed restaurant, there is no clear cut favorite. Annually, there are  upsets that become bracket busters, but this year there is no team that is a sure thing. Heck, maybe not even 4 or 5 teams that can seriously be projected to get to the Final Four.

I could go into some long analysis about the reasons why Villanova or Xavier or Purdue or Virginia, Cincinnati or Arizona could be those teams. But based on how every team that has had a sniff of the top 25 this season gets knocked off multiple times just when they seem to be comfortably entrenched in that pecking order, I’m not betting on anybody going on a 6 game winning streak to claim the title.


I asked the brain trust if there is a team or teams that could come out of nowhere to win it. The conclusion is that there may be no team or even a defined group of teams in that category. Is this the year that a 14-15 or 16 seed reaches the final game -- and dare I say -- win it? Most likely not, but that’s no different than any year thus far, but at some point, a team like that will shock the basketball world. But don’t be surprised if teams like Providence, Creighton, Seton Hall, Rhode Island, New Mexico State, Old Dominion, St. Mary’s or Middle Tennessee State make the Sweet 16 or achieve Final Four status. There are just too many teams that have strong personnel that could catch lightning in a bottle. Purely my opinion, yes, based on the feedback of friends who I trust to cuss and discuss these issues.

But there is one question that even they can’t answer … Why is the mascot for Rhode Island the Rams and not the Reds?????

Posted on 2018 Mar 13