March Madness teams to watch


68 teams will compete, starting on March 13th for their shot to be crowned national champion.

Ward Rentz-Baker, Sports Writer

As the COVID-19 cases decline and we are in the process of returning to normalcy,the 83rd annual March Madness Tournament is upon us.

Starting on March 13th 68 college basketball teams will compete for the title of NCAA National Champions. Prior to the matchups being announced there are four teams that stick out. These teams are the star studded Gonzaga Bulldogs, 2021 champion Baylor Bears, perennial contender Arizona Wildcats and all-time dynasty Duke Blue Devils. 

Led by junior Drew Timme, Gonzaga looks like a major threat in this year’s tournament.  Timme averaged 18 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Timme was given this year’s Karl Malone award, given to the NCAAs best power forward. However, Timme isn’t the only star to touch the court for the Bulldogs. Freshman phenom Chet Holgrem has been electric in his highly anticipated first year after being the number one player in his graduating class. Holgrem averages 14 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 assists a game. Being 24-3, and a dominant 13-1 in their conference, Gonzaga is a favorite going into the tournament.

 Returning champion Baylor is also looking to win once again this year. The Bears started strong going 15-0, and looked like the clear favorites. This was until they lost five of their last 11 games. Losses aside, Baylor has been performing through the three headed scoring monster of guards junior Adam Flagler, sophomore LJ Cryer, and senior James Akinjo who are all averaging over 13 points per game. While Baylor may have stardom in the backcourt, they now for the first time in their season lack in the frontcourt. This mainly stems from the departure of junior forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua to a season ending injury. Although Tchatchoua’s injury leaves the Bears roster shaky, they still have enough talent to be champions.

The Arizona Wildcats surprised everyone by even being in the AP Top 25 rankings this year with first year head coach Tommy Lloyd. Now sitting in the top 5, the Wildcats look to win their first tournament since 1997, after playing in 19 of the last 24 tournaments. Led by sophomore guard Bennedict Mathurin and junior center Christian Koloko, the team started the season 11–0 and are currently 27–3 after beating University of Southern California (USC) to win the PAC-12 regular-season title. After a lights out and entertaining performance versus USC many experts look to the Arizona Wildcats to win it all this year.

After a lack-luster season in 2021, the Duke Blue Devils look to improve and fight for the title win this year. This is five-time NCAA champion head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K) last year, so there is extra incentive to win to cap off a spectacular coaching career. Projected first rounder if not first overall pick freshman forward Pablo Banchero has one Coach K’s most promising prospects. Banchero averages 17 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists a game. The Blue Devils are currently atop the ACC with a 26-4 record. 

The Gonzaga Bulldogs of the West Coast Conference (WCC) are my favorites for this tournament with Arizona in a close second. If the star power of Timme and Holmgren play consistently throughout the tournament, or some players in the backcourt such as Julian Strawther, Andre Nembhard, or Rasir Bolton exceed their performances in the regular season, Gonzaga is a clear favorite.