ncaa march madness

final 4 predictions

Final Four Preview and Predictions

Final Four Preview and Predictions 800 600 OnTheStacks

final four predictions

By Spencer Ripchik

Final Four Preview and Predictions: The NCAA Tournament has been nothing but chaos and the Final Four shows it.

A 4-seed, two 5-seeds and a 9-seed make up this year’s Final Four teams, which is completely different compared to last year’s Final Four, which was filled with Blue Bloods.

The highest seed left is No. 4 UConn, who’s been one of the hottest teams in the NCAA Tournament, knocking off Gonzaga by a whopping 28 points in the Elite Eight.

If this NCAA Tournament has shown anything it’s that the numbers next to a team’s name doesn’t matter. No. 1 Purdue was upset in the first round by No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson, so anything can happen.

The longshot this weekend is No. 9 FAU, who takes on No. 5 San Diego State. UConn takes on No. 5 Miami for its bid to the National Championship game.

There were once 68 teams, after Saturday, there will be just two remaining. What two will they be?

No. 4 UConn vs. No. 5 Miami

No. 4 UConn has been on a hot streak, winning every game in the NCAA Tournament by more than 10 points.

The Huskies are led by their one-two punch in junior forward Adama Sanogo and sophomore guard Jordan Hawkins. 

Sanogo and Hawkins average over 15 points each and Hawkins played a big role in UConn’s dominant win over No. 3 Gonzaga in the Elite Eight.

UConn coach Dan Hurley’s plays have been on another level in the NCAA Tournament and are one of the main reasons why UConn’s offense clicks.

The supporting cast of Sanogo and Hawkins is also really strong. Guards Tristen Newton and Andre Jackson Jr. can make plays to help the attack for the Huskies.

The Huskies’ offense is hot, but a hotter offense is who they play, Miami.

Miami made a run in the NCAA Tournament a year ago as a 10-seed, making the Elite Eight, and most of the players on that squad came back for this run.

Guard play is the Hurricanes’ specialty, and Miami has a trio of them, junior Isaiah Wong, senior Jordan Miller and sophomore Nijel Pack.

Wong, the lead guy last year, has the same role in 2023. He leads the team averaging 16.2 points per game.

With both teams having strong offenses, it is going to come down to who can create the most stops and the Huskies have the edge.

UConn has held every NCAA Tournament team to under 65 points, including No. 2 Texas, who puts up 78 points per game. 

However, it’s not going to be an easy task with the shooters Miami has. If the Hurricanes can outshoot UConn from deep, it could be Miami headed to the National Championship.

Overall, though, UConn’s the more balanced squad, so the Huskies will be the one in the Championship.


UConn 76, Miami 71

No. 5 San Diego State vs. No. 9 FAU

No. 9 FAU, the low team on the totem pole but still in the Final Four, comes out of the chaotic East that had No. 1 Purdue lose in the first round.

On their path to the Final Four, the Owls knocked off No. 4 Tennesee, and a Lil Baby “Low Down” powered No. 3 Kansas State in the final minutes.

No. 5 San Diego State has a strong NCAA Tournament resume too, beating No. 1 Alabama by a couple of scores and edging out No. 6 Creighton. 

The Aztecs have been besting teams with their defense and physicality under the rim. San Diego State has one of the best defenders in the nation playing the 5, senior Nathan Mensah.

At 6-foot-10, 230 pounds, Mensah is a force in the paint and leads the team with 1.7 blocks per game.

Mensah holds down the fort in the paint and junior guard Lamont Butler guards out by the perimeter. Butler locks up the shifty guards and posts a team-best 1.5 steals per game.

Out on the perimeter and in the paint, San Diego State’s defense is hard to crack, but FAU has the firepower offensively to put an end to the Aztecs’ run potentially. 

The firepower has come from sophomore guard Johnell Davis. Davis is the Owls’ playmaker. He leads the team in scoring and in steals per game. 

Davis has a flurry of players around him, too. Freshman Nicholas Boyd averages 8.9 points per game and comes off the bench. The depth of the team is their biggest strength.

The depth is going to have to unload on San Diego State’s defense, though. The Aztecs’ physicallty and defense might shake up the Owls.

There has never been a seed higher than an 8-seed, and that’s not going to happen this year.


San Diego State 68, FAU 60

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ncaa march madness upset

First Round NCAA March Madness Upsets & Recap

First Round NCAA March Madness Upsets & Recap 800 600 OnTheStacks

ncaa march madness

By Spencer Ripchik

Selection Sunday is in the past, which means March Madness is in full swing

The college basketball season has been very chaotic with no true No. 1 team emerging. No. 1 Alabama is listed as the No. 1 overall team in the bracket but looked rocky at points in the season.

There has only been one No. 1 seed to lose in the most chaotic part of the bracket, the first round. The Crimson Tide, who played Texas A&M CC, were alright.

However, there are a bunch of other teams that are on upset watch in the first round with some of the picks from yesterday coming to fruition.

Here are a couple of upsets to take a look at before Day 2 of action tips off plus some of the upset picks recapped.

No. 11 Providence over No. 6 Kentucky

Two teams that have been up and down all season. No. 11 Providence and No. 6 Kentucky.

At the start of 2023, the Wildcats were on the bubble but found their stride toward the end of the season. Kentucky was upset by Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament and could be on upset watch again.

Providence has had a rough stretch of games and has lost four of its last five, so the Friars are in need of a bounce back game.

The Friars have two big wins over Marquette early in the season, so they are very capable of beating big teams. 

Providence plays on the back of Kentucky transfer forward Bryce Hopkins, who averages 16.1 points per game, so it’s a matchup against his former team.

Kentucky has been losing early in the NCAA Tournament the past couple of years and it could happen again.

No. 12 Drake over No. 5 Miami (FL)

The ACC has been all over the place this season and No. 5 Miami is one of the reasons why. 

The Hurricanes had the best record in the ACC this season but didn’t play well in the ACC Tournament, losing to Duke.

The reason why is Miami’s defense. The Hurricanes have no problem scoring but can tend to have a problem defending the rim.

The Hurricanes allow almost as many points as they put up and let up 72.1 points per game.

Drake is not a team to sleep on. Sophomore guard Tucker DeVries is an offensive weapon and almost shoots 40% from deep.

The Bulldogs are another hot team in the NCAA and have a ranked win earlier in the season over Mississippi State.

Miami also might not be entirely healthy with sophomore forward Norchad Omier’s health in question. If he’s not good to go, then Drake can strike against a shaky Miami defense.

No. 12 VCU over No. 5 St. Mary’s

St. Mary’s had a solid start at the beginning of the season with big wins over Gonzaga and San Diego State, but the past couple of games haven’t been kind to the Gaels.

Randy Bennett’s squad lost twice to Gonzaga at the end of the season and an odd loss to Loyola Marymount.

Like in the West Coast Conference finals, St. Mary’s can crack under pressure and did so in 2022 too, losing to UCLA in the second round.

VCU has been rolling and won the Atlantic 10 this year. The Rams’ bread and butter is their defense.

They allow just 62.9 points per game, which is the 23rd-best in the NCAA. St. Mary’s defense is also solid, so it should be a defensive battle. 

VCU and St. Mary’s average the same points per game, but the Rams are one of the best teams in the NCAA at forcing turnovers.

When the Gaels have lost this year it’s been because they cough the ball up. 

This should be one of the best No. 12-No. 5 games of the Tournament, but VCU could have the edge because of its ability to force turnovers and that St. Mary’s isn’t great in big games.

No. 13 Furman over No. 4 Virginia

Furman is one of the hottest teams in the NCAA Tournament of late, winning 14 of its last 15 games this season.

The Paladins are led by their guards and especially senior Mike Bothwell, who leads the team with 18 points per game. With him are junior Marcus Foster and sophomore J.P. Pegues, who both average over 10 points per game.

The offense is rounded out by senior forward Jalen Slawson to give Furman a senior one-two punch.

Virginia has been up and down this season with its methodical offense. The Cavaliers’ slow-paced offense makes them win if it’s a low-scoring game.

Furman averages the 11th-most points per game, so if this is a battle of offenses, the Paladins have more firepower.

What Happened?

This one was hit right on the money. With the clock winding down, Furman’s J.P. Pegues nailed a 3-pointer to give the Paladins the lead, which was the triple that picked up the win.

Senior forward Jalen Slawson led Furman with 19 points in the 68-67 upset victory.

The game was back-and-forth and the difference maker was the Paladins’ 3-point shooting. Virginia led in almost every stat but shot 16.7% from deep compared to Furman’s 35.7%. The Paladins knocked down 10 3-pointers in the win.

The Cavaliers’ struggles in the NCAA Tournament continue as they now have a 1-3 record against 13-seeds and up since 2018.

No. 12 Charleston over No. 5 San Diego State

A No. 12 seed over a No. 5 seed. There’s usually one of those every year and this could be the 2023 version.

No. 12 Charleston is hot off a CAA Championship and is 31-3 on the season. The competition the Cougars have faced off against hasn’t been great, but coach Pat Kelsey has his squad on a 10-game win streak.

The Cougars average 80.8 points per game, which is the 15th most in the NCAA, and it comes from a variety of scorers. Five Cougars average over 10 points per game.

San Diego State won the Mountain West over Utah State and is currently 27-6 on the season. However, the Aztecs’ losses are all in big games and the first round is a big game.

San Diego State lost to Arizona by 17, St. Mary’s and also lost to Arkansas. The other three losses are to other schools in the Mountain West.

The Aztecs have the defense, but the offense is lacking with only one player over double digits. If San Diego State can’t stop the Charleston offense then the Aztecs could be in trouble.

What Happened?

This one was close, but San Diego State held on, winning 63-57 to move on to the second round.

Charleston had the lead toward the end of the game and was looking like it had some momentum. However, the Aztecs made some big shots toward the end of the game, and when they were fouled, they made their free throws.

San Diego State was led by senior guard Matt Bradley, who finished with 17 points on 7-for-15 shooting.

The Aztecs face off against Furman on Saturday.

Do you have a sports story you want me to share? Or do have suggestions on any sports-related content you want to see OnTheStacks? Tweet me @RipchikSpencer

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