Today is Valentine’s Day, so maybe I should be nice for a change. Here’s how each team *could* win the National Championship.
#1 Gonzaga Bulldogs  (LW: 1) – Not losing a single game is a solid strategy to win the Natty. Gonzaga should stick to that IMO.
#2 Villanova Wildcats  (LW: 2) – To repeat as champions, the Wildcats would benefit not playing west of Indiana, where they’re just 2-2 this season. Wait, the Final 4 is in Phoenix? Sorry ‘Nova.
#3 Kansas Jayhawks (LW: 3) – For Kansas to win it all, they must defend the 3-point line. In their three losses, teams have hit an average of 15.3 3’s per game.
#4 Baylor Bears (LW: 6) – Baylor has made two Elite 8’s without playing a single digit seed. Conversely, they lost in the first round the last two years to double digit seeds. Safe to say, I don’t think Baylor can win it all.
#5 Arizona Wildcats (LW: 9) – Arizona has yet to make a Final Four under Sean Miller, but they could win it all if they actually get there. It’s going to be the “getting there” that’s the problem.
#6 UCLA Bruins (LW: 10) – UCLA needs to learn how to defend. Having the 126th ranked defense is not a recipe for success in the Big Dance.
#7 Oregon Ducks (LW: 5) – The key for the Ducks will be keeping Dillon Brooks healthy. The oft-injured star has missed time a couple times this season, and Oregon is obviously not the same team without him.
#8 Louisville Cardinals (LW: 4) – Louisville needs to avoid Virginia and other teams with Virginia disease like Butler, Villanova, and Baylor. The Cards are just 3-11 all time against Virginia, including 0-2 this year, and already lost to Baylor as well. Teams that play slow and deliberate are Louisville’s kryptonite.
#9 West Virginia Mountaineers (LW: 13) – If you want to win the title, you’re going to have to shoot better than 67% from the line. It cost the Mountaineers a win at Allen Fieldhouse last night, and will cost them in the Tournament as well.
#10 North Carolina Tar Heels (LW: 8) – UNC could benefit from some outside shooting. It’s not like they’re bad at it (37.5% – 66th) it’s that they don’t do it often enough (29.9% – 318th).
#11 Wisconsin Badgers (LW: 7) – Wisconsin’s best win is over #30 Michigan. They’re 0-3 against teams inside the top-30 and just lost at home to Northwestern (#31). Hard to win a Natty that way IMO.
#12 Duke Blue Devils (LW: 18) – The preseason title favorites need to develop some depth. You’d think that dealing with all the injuries they have, that they’d have some sort of bench, but you’d be wrong. Hopefully for the Blue Devils they avoid foul trouble and injuries because if they don’t, they’re doomed.
#13 Kentucky Wildcats (LW: 15) – Speaking of a team that could use some outside shooting. The ‘Cats don’t shoot it often (31.4% – 288th), and don’t shoot it great when they do (35.3% – 169th).
#14 Virginia Cavaliers (LW: 12) – Cure yourselves of Virginia disease, then we’ll talk.
#15 Florida Gators (LW: 17) – Florida may be the most underrated title dark horse, but they only have one…ONE top 35 win (home vs. Kentucky). Playing in the SEC has it’s perks.
#16 Purdue Boilermakers (LW: 16) – Purdue only has two top-30 wins. One is against Wisconsin, who has zero top-30 wins. I’d say “show me you can beat somebody” but they only play one more top-30 team (at Michigan) this season, so I won’t hold my breath.
#17 Florida State Seminoles (LW: 14) – Florida State is just 5-5 away from home. That’s not dreadful, but the NCAA Tournament isn’t played at home. If the Seminoles can take their show on the road, they have all the pieces to make a title run.
#18 Cincinnati Bearcats (LW: 11) – The Bearcats are suffering from Virginia disease. They rank 327th in adjusted tempo and are not a great shooting team. I know their identity is on the defensive end, but at some point the ball has to go in the hoop too.
#19 SMU Mustangs (LW: 25) – Everything written about Cincinnati applies to SMU.
#20 Creighton Blue Jays (LW: 23) – Mo Watson making some sort of miracle comeback is Creighton’s only hope, and sadly that isn’t happening.
#21 South Carolina Gamecocks (LW: 19) – It’s hard to take a team with the 141st ranked offense seriously. They scored 16 first half points in a home loss to Alabama. South Carolina ain’t winning shit.
#22 St. Mary’s Gaels (LW: 20) – The Gaels are 0-2 against Gonzaga and if Gonzaga keeps their winning strategy going, I don’t think the third time is the charm for the Gaels. They’re only hope is for someone else to beat the Zags along the way.
#23 Maryland Terrapins (LW: 21) – No team that loses to Penn State, Pitt, and Nebraska is going to win the National Championship.
#24 Butler Bulldogs (LW: 22) – Imagine that. A team with Virginia disease has lost three of four to mediocre teams. WHEN WILL TEAMS LEARN?
#25 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (LW: UR) – The Irish are 334th in bench minutes. They’re like Duke only worse. You can cross Notre Dame off your contenders list.
Next week we won’t be so nice.