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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

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Get ready for madness: Top picks for upcoming NCAA Men’s Tournament

Get ready for madness! The 2024 NCAA Men’s basketball tournament is here. (Nathan Rich)

The month of madness is finally here. Over four months of college basketball has led 68 teams to this point; they’ll now battle it out for a national championship and stamp their names in history. The NCAA College Basketball Tournament is arguably the most entertaining event in sports, with millions of brackets submitted on popular platforms like ESPN and CBS Sports. It truly is a one-of-a-kind experience and one you won’t want to miss out on. 

Completing a 68-team bracket can be overwhelming, but our priceless advice will be sure to help win your bracket pool. We’ve done extensive research and come to a consensus on a few “sleeper locks” that are guaranteed to impress your friends. 

While we can’t guarantee a perfect bracket, as there have been approximately zero perfect brackets in the history of the tournament, we are overly confident that there is nobody in the world who will have better picks than us. Fade us at your own peril.

12 McNeese State University over 5 Gonzaga University:

We’re kicking it off by predicting that this year’s “Cinderella” run will be none other than Louisiana’s own McNeese State University. A small university in Lake Charles, Louisiana, the McNeese State Cowboys are for real, posting a dominant 30-3 record entering the tournament. Led by an elite coach in Will Wade, who previously coached SEC powerhouse LSU, and Texas Christian University transfer Shahada Wells, the Cowboys have been riding high all season. 

LSU fired Will Wade because of recruitment violations, but he has quickly bounced back by completely resurrecting this McNeese State program in just his first season at the helm. Wells arrived at McNeese after averaging a respectable 5.9 points per game at TCU, a strong Big 12 conference team, and was just awarded the Southland Conference Player of the Year after averaging nearly 19 points per game

Gonzaga is a solid team, but not nearly as talented as we are accustomed to seeing from them, and we think Wade’s masterful coaching job this season will be rewarded. This March, the McNeese State Cowboys are going to be putting the “Wild” in “Wild, Wild, West.”

11 North Carolina State University over 6 Texas Tech University:

In March, it’s less about a team’s overall record, but about recent success, and how well a team looks going into the tournament. This is exactly why North Carolina State is a perfect upset pick for round one. 

NC State is the hottest team in college basketball, despite their 9-11 regular season conference record. To clinch their spot in the madness, NC State upset current fourth seed Duke University, recently eliminated University of Virginia and No. 1 seeded University of North Carolina in three consecutive days. 

They also have DJ Burns, a 6’9, 275 pound big man who is also an excellent passer. To win this game, they will have to slow down Texas Tech from the three-point line, as they are third in the Big 12 in three-point percentage at around 37%. NC State will have to force this game into a gritty, defensive battle, as Texas Tech ranks in the bottom half of the Big 12 in both total rebounds and gives up the most rebounds in the whole conference. 

11 University of Oregon over 6 University of South Carolina:

University of Oregon had an up-and-down season, as they struggled to find their identity. 

Until last week. Oregon fought through the Pac 12 conference tournament, winning by just two over University of California, Los Angeles before statement wins over the sixth-ranked University of Arizona Wildcats, a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, and a tough Colorado team, to claim the final Pac 12 basketball tournament championship ever. 

They have a great inside-outside game, with their 6’11 big man N’Faly Dante leading the team in scoring with 16.2 points per game while dominating the boards with nearly nine rebounds per game. Oregon also has a one-two punch on the perimeter, as guards Jermaine Couisnard and Jackson Shelstad have been making timely plays for the Ducks all season. While South Carolina has a star guard of their own in junior Meechie Johnson, we simply don’t think the Gamecocks have the firepower to keep up with a red-hot Oregon Ducks team.

13 Samford University over 4 University of Kansas 

Unfortunately for everybody, injuries are a big part of the game. No team has been bitten more by the injury bug than University of Kansas. Their leading scorer Kevin Mcullar has already been ruled out for the entire tournament after finishing the season averaging over 18 points per game

While star big man Hunter Dickinson is set to play in the tournament, he missed the entire Big 12 tournament due to a dislocated shoulder suffered in the finale of the regular season. Dickinson will be thrown immediately into the fire against the high powered Samford offense, who averaged 86 points per game on the season, the fifth most overall. 

Samford also shoots 49.3% from the field, the seventh most overall. Running the break and stacking up points will not only lead to Samford’s success in the tournament, but allow them to be this year’s Cinderella team that steals the hearts of the American people. 

Final Four, winner prediction

Scott: East Region – 1 University of Connecticut, West Region – 1 University of North Carolina, South Region – 1 University of Houston, Midwest Region – 2 University of Tennessee

Winner: 1 University of Connecticut

The eighth back-to-back national champion ever will be crowned this year, as the University of Connecticut Huskies are simply too good to not win it again. They look fairly different from their title team last year, as their two leading scorers from a year ago, center Adama Sanogo and guard Jordan Hawkins, departed for the NBA

However, head coach Dan Hurley has reloaded this roster with a ton of talent. Guards Tristen Newton and Cam Spencer are arguably the best backcourt duo in the country, and seven-foot, two-inch center Donovan Clingan has become a star in his second season, helping to mask the loss of Sanogo. Hurley’s squad might be even better than last year, and I think they will prove it this March.

Benny: East Region – 4 Auburn University, West Region – 1 University of North Carolina, South Region – 1 University of Houston, Midwest Region – 3 Creighton University 

Winner: 1 University of North Carolina

My winner for this year’s tournament is North Carolina. They have everything a great college team has: experience, star talent in RJ Davis, a beast of a big man in Armando Bacot and a sharpshooter in Cormac Ryan. This team has been there before, and is ready to finish the job. I have them beating the University of Houston in the championship, with Creighton University and Auburn University being the other two in the Final Four. 

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