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Sports staff talks big dance

<p>Melo Trimble brings the ball down the floor and sets up the offense. The junior has led Maryland to three straight NCAA tournament appearances.</p>
Melo Trimble brings the ball down the floor and sets up the offense. The junior has led Maryland to three straight NCAA tournament appearances.

The Daily Helmsman sports writers, Abigail Warren and Jeremiah Graham, and sports editor, Jon Bell, answer nine questions about the NCAA tournament.

1. Will John Calipari and Kentucky make it to the Sweet 16 and play in Memphis? If so, how do you think fans will react?

Jon: I think he will make it to the Sweet 16 and lose to UCLA. But I don’t think he’ll get a poor reception coming back to Memphis. It’s the NCAA tournament, not a game against the Tigers.

Abigail: I will laugh if they don’t make it. They should easily make it to the sweet 16. Lexington is not that far from Memphis so there will be a lot of cheers, but many Memphis fans will not react fondly.

Jeremiah: I think they will, because I actually have them winning it all. I think it will be a mixed reaction from the fans. There will be some cheers and boos.


Former Memphis Tigers coach John Calipari is in the South region of the bracket and will have to come through Memphis to win a national title.

2. Who is your sleeper team in the tournament?

Jon: I love West Virginia and their draw in the bracket. I think that they get past the first two rounds decently easy, but they will have a hard time getting past Arizona in the Elite Eight.

Abigail: I’d say the winner of Oklahoma State and Michigan because I think that is the weakest region.

Jeremiah: I got Iowa State. They have been one of the hottest teams in the Big 12, and they have an easier bracket with the exception of having to play Kansas.


Monte Morris walks to the locker room after the loss to Oklahoma in last year’s Big 12 conference tournament. He leads No. 5 seeded Iowa State with 16.3 points per game.

3. What’s your prediction for the biggest upset?

Jon: I’m about 50-50 on the Northwestern-Vandy game, but I bet the winner beats Gonzaga in the round of 32.

Abigail: I think SMU over Baylor in the second round is a big upset. They are a well-rounded team led by the Duke transfer, Semi Ojeleye. Then they might upset Duke in the Sweet 16.

Jeremiah: I have MTSU over Butler in the second round. I’m really not big on Butler this year, and I think that MTSU is good enough to beat them and make a run.

4. Who was the biggest tournament snub?

Jon: Syracuse for sure. Just look at what they did last year making it to the Final Four as a 10 seed. I think they proved that they can win any given game, and that is what the tournament is about.

Abigail: Georgia Tech beat a lot of quality teams this season. Josh Pastner got ACC coach of the year — they could have made some noise in the conference.

Jeremiah: Syracuse played a tough schedule and had wins against a few high quality teams. I would have them replace Vanderbilt because of their 15 losses.

5. What is the potential matchup that you are looking forward to the most?

Jon: The south region is obviously loaded, but a Notre Dame vs. West Virginia matchup in the second round could be one of the best games in the tournament. Both teams have a huge upside and could find themselves in the Elite Eight or Final Four.

Abigail: UCLA beat Kentucky once this year. It could be interesting to watch them play again and see how far each team has come.

Jeremiah: The south bracket has the best matchups. I would love to see Lonzo Ball and Malik Monk match up. Then the winner would face Joel Berry and North Carolina.

6. Who is your player to watch?

Jon: I would watch Maryland’s Melo Trimble. He is a guy who is capable of taking over a game and can send his team deep in the tournament if he gets hot.

Abigail: Semi Ojeleye could play against his old team if SMU and Duke make it to the Sweet 16. He was the AAC conference player of the year and could be a matchup problem.

Jeremiah: Malik Monk is the best player in the tournament. He could lead Kentucky like Kemba Walker did UConn and win a championship.

7. How many brackets have you filled out and what was your strategy?

Jon: I have filled out a ton of brackets. I did about three completely serious, but those always turn out to be my worst. My best ones are usually coin flipping and asking little kids for advice.

Abigail: I filled out two, and I have one more to do. I tend to mostly pick the higher seeds with a few upsets.

Jeremiah: I’ve filled out two brackets so far. I always pick at least one 2-5 upset, one 2-15 upset and never put all four No. 1 seeds in the Final Four.

8. Who do you think will make it to the Final Four?

Jon: I have Villanova vs. West Virginia and Kansas playing UCLA. The field is too tough for all the favorites to go through, but I also don’t see a really low seed finding their way to the Final Four this year.

Abigail: I have Nova, Kansas, UNC and Arizona. I think they are the best teams in their given regions.

Jeremiah: I got Kentucky, Iowa State, Arizona and Villanova. Iowa State is my Cinderella team, and the other teams have a lot of talent and favorable matchups.

9. Who do you have winning it all?

Jon: I think Villanova will beat Kansas and win their second straight championship. They have the No. 1 overall seed for a reason. They have a ton of talent, a senior leader at point guard and great head coach.

Abigail: I have Kansas. I just can’t see them not winning. They have had big wins all year, and Bill Self is a renowned coach.

Jeremiah: Kentucky. They have the most talent in the country and the best player. We say that about Kentucky every year, but I think they get their second championship under Calipari this year.

Melo Trimble brings the ball down the floor and sets up the offense. The junior has led Maryland to three straight NCAA tournament appearances.

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