Tennessee: Being the current AP number two (as of 2/19), Tennessee’s team has a lot going for it. With many of their returning players improving due to their coach pushing them to compete and have fun instead of focusing on winning. Tennessee’s top two scorers, Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield, have been key to the success of the team with Williams averaging 20 points per game and Schofield close behind with 18. Point Guard Jordan Bone has also stepped up this season averaging 14 points per game, doubling his average from last season. The improvement of the Tennessee basketball team even without some key players, such as Lamonte Turner, last year’s SEC Sixth Man of the Year and the cold start of Jordan Bowden, is phenomenal, with each player stepping up to support each other, ensuring the success of the Volunteers.
Duke: Duke has been a Final Four favorite since the beginning of the season. With last year’s top three recruits signing to the Blue Devils, joining one of the greatest coaches in the history of college basketball, the expectations for the Duke has never been higher. R.J. Barrett, the leading scorer for Duke has been a lethal player this season. With the ability to shoot from behind the arc with relative ease, his 3-point field goal percentage racks up at a solid 34%. However, that’s not to undermine his capability to drive through the paint, attributing to his field goal percentage of 45%. The second top scorer needs no introduction, Zion Williamson has all eyes on him with his insane athleticism. Besides his crazy dunks, he leads his team in rebounds and blocks making him a key player on the defensive end as well as the offensive, scoring an impressive 22 points per game. Last but definitely not least, Cam Reddish leads his team in assists and is an essential player to the flow of Duke’s offense. If these athletes weren’t enough reason to be convinced of their Final Four prospects, Coach Mike Krzyzewski should. Coach Krzyzewski, a Naismith Hall of Fame coach, has created a dynasty in the last 38 years at Duke, winning five national championships and making 12 appearances in the Final Four. Duke will not leave anyone surprised if they reach the final four this season.
Gonzaga: Gonzaga is having a so far historic season, staying undefeated in their conference and winning by at least 20 points in every game except for one. This adds up to a 31-point margin of victory, the highest in any NCAA conference in nearly 20 years. The current WCC record is held by the 2017 Zags with a 26-point margin of victory even with a single loss in the regular season. The team is led by Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura, who were both on the Naismith Player of the Year midterm awards. They are both high-scoring juniors who have lots of talent to boost their teams chances in the NCAA tournament. Mark Few has established himself as one of the top coaches in the NCAA in his 19 season coaching tenure. In doing so, he has made Gonzaga basketball a top contender in the NCAA and the top team in the West Coast Conference. In the 19 years, Few has led the Bulldogs to 17 league titles. Gonzaga basketball led by scoring junior and an excellent, experienced coach will have a legitimate shot at the title this year and will be a threat to other teams.
UVA: The University of Virginia has been a powerhouse in men’s basketball in recent years, and this year is no different. The team is ranked second in the ACC, second to Duke. The Cavaliers are led by junior point guard Kyle Guy who has experience in big games, as he played in the NCAA tournament his freshman and sophomore year. After experiencing a devastating loss in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year, he will be back wanting more for the second half of his junior campaign. UVA is coached by Tony Bennett who is in his 10th year at UVA. He has earned National Coach of the Year honors twice as the head coach of the Cavaliers and once as the coach of Washington State. Under Bennett, they have made the qualified for the NCAA tournament in each of the last five years and made their first Elite Eight appearance since 1995. Under Bennett’s expertise and momentum from a plucky win against one of the top ranked teams in North Carolina. After last years disappointment, the UVA basketball team will most likely go into the NCAA tournament with fire under their butts ready to blow past anyone in their path.