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March Madness: Final Four picks

The Final Four will be played in Houston, Texas and we make our picks below. After a week of exciting college basketball games, March Madness has reached the Sweet 16. Athletes participating in the NCAA Tournament have trained hard their entire lives – since early childhood – for a chance to win the national championship.

College athletics brings out the spirit of competition in its purest form, and we are now witnessing college basketball being played at its highest level. Let’s appreciate these student-athletes, who juggle school work with sports, and who are not compensated for their efforts. They have labored thousands of hours in the gym; doing homework on the bus; rejecting countless invitations to weekend parties. All in the name of personal excellence and team contribution. They represent their hometowns, their schools, and personal pride.

In the East, No. 1 seed Ohio State is being picked by many experts to reach the Final Four in Houston, Texas. How can anyone pick against a team who has only lost twice this year? As expected, the Buckeyes destroyed George Mason 98-66 over the weekend. Four players from Ohio State scored in double figures led by David Lighty’s 25 points. The Buckeyes should beat North Carolina to reach the Final Four. The Tar Heels got by Washington 86-83 over the weekend.

In the West, No. 1 Duke should prevail over Arizona and then emerge victorious in a highly-anticipated showdown with Connecticut. The Wildcats got lucky on a controversial turnover late in the game against Texas and played inconsistently throughout the game. Arizona won 69-67 on Sunday but Duke is a much stronger team than the Wildcats. The Huskies on the other hand face a tough test against an excited San Diego State team, but the Aztecs are an inexperienced lot. Duke destroyed Hampton 87-45 on Friday with four players scoring double figures for the Blue Devils. Duke is a team that requires all five players on an opposing team to bring their “A” game. A talented Blue Devils team advance to the Final Four.

In the Southwest, No. 1 Kansas is an overwhelming favorite to reach the Final Four. This slot is theirs for the taking after several strong teams, such as Vanderbilt, Louisville, Purdue and Notre Dame, were all eliminated in the early rounds. The Jayhawks will face either VCU or Florida State with the former being the last true Cinderella team left in this year’s tournament. Kansas beat Illinois 73-59 over the weekend, led by Marqieff Morris’24 points. The Jayhawks should easily advance to the Final Four.

The Southeast region is easily the most exciting in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, St John’s and UCLA have all been eliminated. Most expected Pittsburgh to play Ohio State for the national championship but the former lost to Butler in a huge upset. We expect Butler to play BYU – led by Jimmer Fredette – for the last Final Four slot. Fredette is the nation’s leading score and BYU is a team that many fans are rooting for. However, Butler’s inspirational run continues and the team should emerge victorious against Wisconsin. Butler advances in a close game over BYU.