Queen’s Journal vs Western Gazette March Madness bracket competition

The Journal looks to best The Gazette in second inaugural rivalry series of the year


Our previous fantasy football series against the Western Gazette sports section was such a hit, we figured we should face off again. In this series, our bout centres around one of the oldest, most sacred traditions in North American sport: the March Madness bracket.

While Warren Buffet offers a billion dollars for a perfect bracket, school pride and bragging-rights are what we’re after. Let’s see if The Journal can go undefeated against The Gazette in this year’s inaugural competitions.

Our Champ: Gonzaga

Gonzaga is The Journal’s choice to win this year’s March Madness. The Bulldogs are the clear favourite, ranked number one in the country after an undefeated regular season and looking poised to become just the fourth team in history to have a perfect season.

Gonzaga has scored the second-most points of any program in the nation, averaging 92.1 points per game. In addition, the team has all-star talent in players like Drew Timme, who boasts a shooting percentage of 65.5 per cent, ranking second among all players in the tournament.

Not only do the Bulldogs boast the top offence in college basketball, but they have a top 10 defence as well. Gonzaga has been at the top of the Associate Press (AP) Coaches’ Poll for the entire season and was just one of three teams who saw multiple players earn AP All-American honours. This is a team that is capable of blowing out any team in the tournament. 

The other teams we have making it to the Final Four are Michigan, Ohio State, and Oklahoma State.

Michigan is the one seed in the Eastern Conference of the tournament bracket, and they finished fourth in the AP poll rankings. Michigan is elite at both ends of the floor and plays a methodical and controlled brand of basketball. Unfortunately, they will be without star guard Isaiah Livers, which is a big blow to their championship aspirations. That said, Michigan should still make noise in this tournament, especially with star small forward Franz Wagner being so dominant.

Ohio State finished the season as the seventh-ranked team in all of college basketball, and they’re entering March Madness after a loss in the Big 10 title game to Illinois. Ohio State’s offence should carry them through the tournament, and they’re coming off of impressive wins against Purdue and Michigan. We have them beating Baylor in a revenge game to get into the Final Four.

The Oklahoma State Cowboys is also a fierce contender and could even conceivably upset Gonzaga in the finals. While the Cowboys are only ranked fifth in the Big 12, they are rebounding and scoring is decent at 38.6 and 77.1 per game, respectively.

The biggest factor in Oklahoma’s success, though, is point guard Cade Cunningham. Cunningham was the highest-ranked point guard of all time in recruiting databases and remains the projected first overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. If, at the end of the tournament, Oklahoma State is the one raising a ladder to cut the net, it will be Cunningham with the scissors. While Gonzaga has the stronger team, the Cowboys clearly have the most impressive individual talent, possibly in a generation. 

Only time will tell, but we predict that the Bulldogs will be raising the trophy, becoming the first undefeated NCAA team since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers.

Don’t forget about the upsets

With every March Madness tournament there are always a number of surprise upsets in the first round and even beyond. In 2018, we saw 11 seed  Loyola-Chicago make it all the way to the Final Four, upsetting numerous high-powered squads. For this year’s tournament, we’ve selected five first-round upsets in our March Madness bracket challenge:

 12 Winthrop vs. 5 Villanova

The key to this game is an injury to Villanova’s star point guard Collin Gillespie. The Wildcats are 0-2 this season without Gillespie, losing to Providence and Georgetown. Winthrop plays a fast and fearless brand of basketball that features lots of perimeter shooting. If the Eagles get a little hot and take advantage of Villanova’s porous defence, they could send the Wildcats packing home early.

12 Georgetown vs. 5 Colorado

The Georgetown Hoyas knocked off Creighton and Villanova to win the Big East title and are coming into March Madness as hot as any team that isn’t Gonzaga. Colorado is coming off of a loss in the Pac‑12 final to Oregon state, but are an all-around solid team with a stingy defence. Ultimately this pick came down to how hot the Hoyas have been down the stretch.

10 Virginia Tech vs. 7 Florida

There isn’t much separating the Virginia Tech Hookies and the Florida Gators in this contest. Both teams are average on offence and on defence. The difference here is the Gators are coming into the tournament cold, having lost three of their last four matchups. Despite being a lower seed than Florida, the Hookies round out AP’s top 25 poll, while the Gators miss the cut.

10 Rutgers vs. 7 Clemson

Rutgers has one of the best defences in college basketball, and they really clamp down on shooters on the perimeter. This is bad news for Clemson, who already struggle to shoot from deep and make long shots. The Rutgers Scarlet Knights actually come into this one as the odds-on favourite, and we think they’ll be a buzzkill for the Clemson Tigers.

10 VCU vs. 7 Oregon

This is an interesting matchup between one of the top defences in VCU and a top offence in Oregon. The difference here is that VCU’s Nah’Shon Hyland, the Atlantic-10 player of the year, is major scorer, averaging 19.4 points per game. Oregon’s lacklustre defence will have their hands full with him. Besides, in matchups, always remember the old adage ‘defence wins championships.’ We’re going with VCU here.

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