UNITED STATES—Do you have your bracket? Have you started to fill it out, well I know I have and it looks like the 2018 NCAA Tournament will be an interested one to say the least, with so many surprising seeds, omissions and interesting match-ups. For those Californians, there is a bit of disappointment as the USC Trojans didn’t make the cut, but the UCLA Bruins found a way to edge itself for a potential bid into the tourney. However, the Bruins will have to defeat SBU and then take on Florida to go deep into the tournament.

There are a lot of people who think the Bruins can go deep into the race, and I will agree they have the potential to do so. Yes, Villanova is a #1 seed, but don’t think they can simply coast all the way to the end. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen #1 seeds or high-ranked seeds get tossed in the first round of the tournament. I will admit I do expect to see #1 seeds Virginia, Xavier, Villanova and Kansas to make it past the first round. However, as we inch closer and closer to the second round and the eventful Sweet 16, Elite 8 and ultimately the Final Four things get dicey.

I was stunned to see that Louisville, Syracuse, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Notre Dame didn’t make the cut. Out of all those teams, Syracuse should have without a doubt been in the mix, but when it comes to the NCAA committee, there is always surprises that leave people scratching their heads. I mean how can teams who have records that are not as impressive as other teams find themselves nabbing a #1 seed or a higher seed than a team that perhaps had a winning season or won their division. Well, the committee isn’t always looking at numbers. They sometimes look at the schedule and the caliber of times that the various schools encounter. Well, if you want things to be even across the scale, why not pit teams that are the best of the best against each other?

That is just an idea people, because it’s something that rarely happens and makes absolutely no sense. Yes, you can have teams from the Big East or ACC who have dominant records, but they failed to play teams that are on the same caliber as themselves throughout the season. So what happens? They enter the tourney and find themselves booted in the first round.

You all know I’m a Michigan State Spartan and I loved the fact their first game against Bucknell transpires in my home town of Detroit giving them a home field advantage. However, how did MSU (29-4) get seeded as a #3 seed, yet, Duke (26-7) nabbed a #2 seed? Seems unfair America considering the Spartans have a better record. However, the Midwest Region might be the toughest of the four. I mean Kansas, TCU, Auburn, Oklahoma, Duke and MSU all vying for a shot of making the Final Four. It’s not going to be easy for my Spartans, but the notion of seeing them having to battle with Duke, which has been on ongoing rivalry in my opinion that makes for interesting TV.

If you take a look at the West that is another interesting division where Xavier, Missouri, Gonzaga, Michigan, Texas A&M and the North Carolina Tar Heels. I swear just peaking at the West and Midwest regions the matchups look like a ton of fun, and it will be a fight to the finish. I would love and I mean love to see Michigan and MSU actually meet in the Championship Game (which is actually possible)! While I wouldn’t normally root for the Wolverines, I am here. They are playing terrific basketball (beat us TWICE) and won the Big Ten tournament. If the Wolverines don’t manage to take out the Tar Heels, I welcome a matchup between the Tar Heels and my Spartans. I mean that team has been a thorn for MSU for years and it would be riveting to see that matchup.

Now, many of you might be asking why I’m not chatting a ton about the South and East region. Well, that’s because those regions seem to be cake walks almost for Villanova and Virginia. I think Villanova has an easier shot, whereas Virginia might face tough competition, as Kentucky, Arizona (an absolute sleeper people) and Cincinnati could be really tough opponents along the way. Cincinnati and Arizona are indeed teams that people need to watch out for because they can go far into the bracket. However, predicting the NCAA Final Four this year won’t be easy if you ask me. Let me put it out there I’m rooting for the following teams Michigan, UNC, Virginia, Cincinnati, Villanova, Duke and Michigan State. Based on that analysis, I would love and I mean love to see Michigan, Michigan State, Virginia and Villanova as the Final Four. Do I think that is going to happen? No.

My gut tells me UNC is going to take out Michigan, while so many are predicting Duke to take out MSU, I think the Spartans are going to fight like hell to take out this rival which has eliminated them from the tournament on multiple occasions. I do think in the South that Arizona might upset Virginia people, so that means Villanova based on lack of quality opponents makes it to the Big Dance. With that said I’m predicting Villanova, Arizona, UNC and Michigan State as the Final Four. We could be looking at a repeat of the 2009 NCAA Championship game between UNC and MSU, only this time the Spartans manage to win.

Written By Kelsey Thomas