Basketball, Sports

NCAA March Madness 2016 preview

Michigan State Spartans

Head Coach Tom Izzo has put together arguably one of his best offensive teams. Led by Denzel Valentine, the most versatile player in college basketball and USA Today’s Player-of-the-Year, the Spartans have been able to overwhelm teams offensively while using their depth and talented young athletes to wear down teams on defence. During March Madness, good coaching, depth and clutch play are all essential factors. Fortunately for die-hard Spartans fans, the combination of Izzo, a deep rotation, and Valentine respectively meet all three of those requirements. The time is here for Izzo’s second championship. —Arman Bery

Kansas Jayhawks

Rock, chalk, Jayhawk. It might be the easy pick, but it’s the right one. This team is incredibly well-coached—Head Coach Bill Self has a veteran group that is both experienced and deep. In addition to the excellent depth, this team is lights out from beyond the arc. Often, when giants fall in March, they do so to teams that get hot from three point range; Kansas is shooting a mind-boggling 42.6 per cent from three and has six legitimate three-point shooting threats. Since losing three out of five in mid-January, the Jayhawks haven’t lost a game, and have become a lockdown defensive unit. This is the one team that has stood out in an otherwise up-and-down year for college basketball; in the end, their consistent well-rounded play will have them cutting down the nets in a few weeks’ time. —Mayaz Alam

Kentucky Wildcats

The winners of the SEC basketball tournament have the leadership, coaching, and chip on their shoulder to avenge last year’s elite eight exit and win the NCAA tournament. Point guard Tyler Ulis has been phenomenal this year and couples extremely well with Jamal Murray to give any opposition team the fits. Kentucky has also finished the season on a strong winning streak, and is in a good head space for the NCAA tournament. Offensively, Kentucky is the 10th best team in the nation in one of the toughest divisions. With John Calipari as coach and explosive, intelligent players, Kentucky have enough to win the tournament. Zikomo Smith 

North Carolina Tar Heels

The East’s No.1-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels enter the tournament on a five-game win streak and as the deserving holders of this year’s ACC regular season and tournament titles. UNC enjoys a plethora of scoring options at its disposal, with four players averaging over 12 points a game this season: Brice Johnson (16.6), Joel Berry (12.7), Marcus Paige (12.1), and Justin Jackson (12.1). Big men Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks will anchor the defence and dominate the boards on both sides of the court. Head Coach Roy Williams will be eager for an eighth career Final Four appearance and a third NCAA title in his 28-year career. The Tar Heels have all the necessary pieces for a title this year—at this point it’s just a matter of execution. Nick Jasinski

Click on the segments below each "Sweet Sixteen" team to see the Tribune's March Madness predictions. The colour of each round's victor will propagate down through the circle.

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