NBA draft tracker: Who’s in, and who’s duke, Kentucky and the limits of one-and-done rosters? John Calipari explains the experience of coaching Kentucky this season and why he’s happy with how the bracket has shaken out. It’s time to find out how your bracket is holding up. I’ve heard it all in the years I’ve written my annual bold predictions.
These critiques often follow calls for my resignation and subsequent retirement from sports journalism. North Carolina fans still point to the infamous “UNC won’t last the first weekend” prediction in 2016. Well, the Tar Heels reached the national title game that year. And I won’t waste time explaining the intent of a piece called bold predictions. No league in America matched the ACC’s nine-bid haul on Selection Sunday. But the paths for the league’s top contenders — North Carolina, Virginia and Duke — to reach the Final Four come with complications.
Virginia’s path to San Antonio will probably demand a win over Arizona or Kentucky — a pair of squads with unique frontcourts and big wings capable of playing the inside-outside attack needed to beat Tony Bennett’s team — in the Sweet 16. Where does Nova rank among champs? North Carolina entered the ACC tournament title game against Virginia with a chance to contend for a top seed. But one of the Tar Heels’ most blatant weaknesses in league play was their porous perimeter defense and mediocre shooting from the 3-point line. The West Region features potent shooters from Xavier, Missouri, Gonzaga, Houston and Michigan. No other squads in the league boast the tools necessary to reach the Final Four. Defensive problems are the greatest indicators of a team’s ability, or lack thereof, to win a title.