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Lancer Media Madness: Key game analysis from our experts

by Devin Barge, Matt Gelhard, and Ethan Hart

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Welcome to the second edition of the Lancer Media Madness! For the length of the NCAA Tournament, we will be analyzing and predicting the big games, the upsets, and the sports phenomenon that is March Madness. Below we have our tournament analysis for 2018, all the way up to the championship game in Alamodome stadium, in San Antonio. Who do you think will win? Tweet your answer at @lhsjournalism, @ethanhart1331, @DevinBarge and @GelhardMatthew, or let us know in the comments section below!

Thoughts on seedings – Matt

#10 Oklahoma:

Oklahoma carries Trae Young and a high power offense that scores a Big 12 leading 85.3 points a game. They have lost 8 out of the last 10 games, their main contributor has slowed down as of recent. #10 is appropriate for Oklahoma but they can play like #5 seed when all gears are in motion. However, at their worst the team isn’t even a tournament team. No one knows what team will show up.

#3 Michigan State:

Michigan St. has beaten Purdue and North Carolina and shown that they can put together a great team. This team does not rely only on a couple of players as all 5 of the starting 5 average more than 10 points a game.

Biggest Predictions – Ethan

Kentucky doesn’t live up to the hype.

Year in and year out, the Kentucky Wildcats remains a basketball powerhouse in not only their conference the SEC, but in all of college basketball.

But are they all smoke and mirrors this time around?

The Wildcats come into the tournament with 12 underclassmen on their roster. They, as the 5th seed in their bracket, play the 12th seeded Davidson. They have one of the youngest starting lineups in the history of college basketball. Even though coach John Calipari has lead just as young teams to postseason success, including their last championship in 2012 with star center Anthony Davis.

They are having a down year for their standards, going 24-10 in the regular season and 10-8 in the SEC. Although led by Kevin Knox, averaging 15.6 points per game, the Wildcats have no true star on their roster.

Davidson will give them a tough first round match-up. In recent history, 12th-seeded teams have tended to upset 5th-seeded opponents. Davidson is a scary shooting team, averaging a hair under 40% for 3-point shooting for the season. They beat Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure en route to an Atlantic 10 championship. They have multiple players, such as Peyton Aldridge and Kellen Grady, who are electric scorers and talented guards. Anticipate a possible upset in the first round from Davidson.

Biggest questions of tournament – Ethan

How far can Trae Young carry Oklahoma?

It’s fair to say that Trae Young is one the most hyped college basketball players in the last decade. That isn’t an understatement, considering his stellar performance this season. The 6’2’’ freshman point guard phenom is averaging 27.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game, according to ESPN.

Although this is one of the most incredible stat lines in the history of college basketball, the Oklahoma Sooner’s play this season hasn’t quite reflected their star player’s success.

It’s no secret that the Sooners have been one of the country’s most inconsistent teams this year. They started their season off strong, winning 12 of their first 13 games. After their hot streak, the Sooners hit a bump in the road, only winning 6 of their last 18 games.

With such a promising beginning ending in such a disappointing finish, what’s to blame? Some say it’s the Sooner’s lack of scoring behind Young. With the exception of Young, the Sooners only have two other players averaging double-digit points. Their inconsistency also falls on the fact that they lose games that they should win. This season, they are only 4-4 against teams ranked from 51-100 in the nation, according to CBS Sports.

With a loaded Midwest bracket in the tournament, don’t expect the Sooners to advance any higher than the Round of 32.

Which low seeded team will surprise the most?

One of the toughest decisions while making your bracket is picking a low-seeded team that is bound to win against the odds in the tournament. This year is no different, giving us many options on teams that may be able to steal a win in the early rounds of the tournament.

Although many teams come to mind for this year’s “cinderella” team, such as 9th-seeded Missouri, 10th-seeded Texas, and 12th-seeded Davidson, the team that will surprise in this year’s tournament is the 12th-seeded New Mexico State Aggies.

There’s not a lot to hate about the Aggies. They are one of the best rebounding teams in the nation, ranking 4th in the country with 41.2 rebounds per game. They are led by Zach Lofton, a potent scorer averaging nearly 20 points per game. Jemerrio Jones, a 6’5’’ forward, averages 10 points and 13 rebounds per game, and is considered of the most versatile players at his position.

The concern with many low-seeded small schools is that they haven’t played tournament-caliber teams throughout the regular season. But with New Mexico State, that isn’t the case. They have been strong against good teams all this year, beating tournament snub Illinois, then-ranked #6 Miami, and 12-seeded Davidson. The fact that they’re playing Clemson, a shaky offensive team in the first round, shouldn’t frighten them, or your bracket.

Championship predictions – Devin

My Final Four predictions for this year’s March Madness tournament consist of three number 1 seeded teams, Virginia vs. University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Along with Villanova vs. Kansas. The championship game, in my opinion will host UNC and Kansas in the Alamodome in San Antonio. With the tournament’s conclusion in April, I believe that Kansas will come out on top with a score of 62-59. Granted, these four teams have played strongly up until the tournaments initial start, Virginia (32-2), UNC (25-10), Villanova (30-4), and Kansas (27-7). So when the time comes for the championship game, either of these teams could end up playing one another.

Follow us for more throughout the week – Matt

First game is at 12:15, #10 Oklahoma vs. #7 Rhode Island. Follow us throughout the week as we will cover every round of the tournament along with predictions on games ahead. Podcasts and articles will be released on the The Lance.

View our brackets on ESPN’s Tournament Challenge website by clicking on the links below:

Devin Barge’s bracket

Matt Gelhard’s bracket

Ethan Hart’s brakcet

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Lancer Media Madness: Key game analysis from our experts