March means the start of the most exciting part of the sports calendar has arrived: March Madness. Brackets will be released soon and everyone will get the chance to take a shot at picking the next national champion in men’s and women’s college basketball.
The excitement of filling out multiple brackets to increase the chances of winning and the sheer amount of money that’s exchanged between thousands of people across the country is mind numbing. There are also plenty of free tournaments for people who would rather save the money, though, including the popular ESPN bracket challenge where entrants are eligible for cash winnings.
Wondering where to start when you fill out your brackets? Take a look at the top picks for to be crowned the NCAA March Madness winner in 2017.
By the time the tournament starts, the Bulldogs may have completed the first undefeated season in school history. If the Zags end up making it out of the West Coast Conference tournament unscathed – meaning the team remains undefeated – the NCAA tournament gets even more interesting. But even if there’s a loss before the tournament starts, Gonzaga is still one of the favorites to make it to the Final Four.
The Tar Heels are barreling towards a number one seed. After last year’s disappointing finish (North Carolina lost on a last second three-pointer in the title game), North Carolina has seemed to shake off the bad vibes to rise to the top of the game again this season. North Carolina is a bullish pick as they’ve only lost 5 games this season.
Another team that’s always around at the end of the season is Kansas. The last time the Jayhawks won the title was nearly 10 years ago in 2008. It’s about time for Bill Self, the team’s head coach, and the Kansas Jayhawks to make another run. The team’s last Final Four appearance happened in 2012, which in this environment may not allow for Self to remain much longer without a deep run into the tournament. Self’s team is looking good, though — Kansas has over 25 wins so far this season.
A last second three-pointer in last year’s title game to win is how many will remember Villanova. Even watching the clip of the buzzer beater gets the heart racing. Villanova is just as good this year, if not better, and has a great shot at making it back to the title game. The last time the tournament had back-to-back champions was when Florida doubled up in 2006 and 2007.
Duke started the season as the nation’s top team. Then the team fell-off, Coach Mike Krzyzewski had back surgery and all seemed lost. Once Coach K eventually returned the Blue Devils stabilized. The team still has too many loses in the ACC to make it as the overall number 1 seed, but there’s enough firepower for Duke to make a serious run at another national title.
Are any of your favorites on this list? Where will you place your March Madness bets?