Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, May 19, 2024

Moments ‘til Madness: A national champion is near

My thoughts on the Final Four and the eventual National Championship game.

"Moments 'Til Madness " Column Graphic
Graphic by Gretta Goorno

This tournament has flown by. Just two weeks ago, we had 68 teams in the field, ready to battle it out for the most important trophy in college basketball. Now, only four remain, with three very compelling games left to be played in Arizona. As always, the tournament has been almost unpredictable, but here are my picks for each game and the new (or not so new) National Champion.

Purdue University vs. North Carolina State University: NPOY in the National Championship

I expect this game to be one of the best we’ve seen in this year’s March Madness. The storylines are incredible; the likely National Player of the Year senior center Zach Edey versus the overwhelming fan-favorite graduate student center DJ Burns Jr. If Burns Jr. and junior forward Mohamed Diarra can stay out of foul trouble, this matchup should be one for the ages. While NC State’s dark horse run has been awesome to watch, I do think Edey will end up being too much for them to handle, especially if his supporting cast plays like they did against Gonzaga University in the Sweet 16.

University of Connecticut vs. University of Alabama: Huskies keep dominating

While I do believe UConn will win this game, ‘Bama has shown they can beat anyone in the sport. The bad news is that they could also probably lose to almost anyone. The Tide have shown a strict dedication to the “live by the three, die by the three” mentality, ranking fourth in all of college basketball in 3-point attempts per game. If they hit these threes like they have been doing so far, the Huskies are going to have a lot more to deal with. But still, UConn has been easily the most consistent team in the nation and hasn’t had much trouble reaching the Final Four yet again. Dan Hurley’s team has won by at least 15 points in every tournament game, and I think that trend could definitely continue against Alabama.

University of Connecticut vs. Purdue University: National Championship prediction

Although this is a boring pick for the tournament finale, you can’t ask for better-quality teams. All year, these two squads have shown that they deserve to be playing in the title game. Both continued their success from last year and have only gotten better since then. Still, it’s impossible to not love UConn’s chances here. With a great defensive center in sophomore Donovan Clingan, it will likely be another difficult matchup for Edey. More importantly, though, the Huskies have the advantage in pretty much every other position. Graduate students Cam Spencer and Tristen Newton are two of the best guards in the nation. Not to mention, first-year Stephon Castle, a talented guard, and sophomore forward Alex Karaban, a smart sharpshooter, fill out the rest of this stacked starting lineup. It’s hard to imagine Purdue will be able to withstand all of these threats along with the fact that Edey will be guarded by a future first-round pick. But I do think it will stay close for the majority of the game, purely because of Mr. Inevitable.