Sons of Saturday Place Their Picks for the Final Four
Whether comparing notes with friends, listening to expert analysis or obsessively rechecking and remapping your bracket, the buildup to March Madness is one of the most exciting times of the year for fans of college basketball.
The program overwhelmingly favored to attain Final Four status is Gonzaga, according to midweek data, followed by the fighting Illini of Illinois. Both teams have been consistently dominant this year and enter the tournament riding a hot streak, with Gonzaga in particular hoping to become the first team since the 1975-76 season to finish the campaign with an unblemished record and a championship.
Before the jaw-dropping, heart-throbbing, superlative-prodding battles begin this weekend, eleven of the scribes from Sons of Saturday wanted to share the champions of each region, in their estimation.
There is a tie for the respondent scribes' most likely member of the Final Four between, to nobody's surprise, the Gonzaga Bulldogs and the Illinois Fighting Illini. 73% of the group voted in favor of these two powerhouses and will be trusting the spread throughout the early rounds.
Although not a majority vote, the second most popular choice to top their region was the fourth-seeded Seminoles of Florida State, with 45% of the scribes placing their faith in coach Leonard Hamilton's outfit. Closely behind and with 36% support were the Baylor Bears, the third #1 seed to join the scribes' nominations.
Three teams were endorsed by 27% of those that were polled: Alabama, Texas, and Oklahoma State. Clearly, these scribes are banking on the madness of March acquiescing to get their 2/3/4 selections past the respective #1 seeds.
18% of the group also split opinion over Iowa, Arkansas and Villanova, while 9% trusted in Ohio State, Kansas, Purdue and North Carolina to dawn the penultimate stage.
The exact picks from the scribes can be found below.
Billy Ray Mitchell
Kansas, Alabama, Villanova, Illinois
Gonzaga, Texas, Arkansas, Illinois
Iowa, Florida State, Purdue, Illinois
Iowa, Alabama, Baylor, Oklahoma State
Gonzaga, Florida State, Arkansas, Illinois
Gonzaga, Florida State, Villanova, Illinois
Gonzaga, Florida State, Ohio State, Illinois
Gonzaga, Texas, Baylor, Illinois
Gonzaga, Florida State, Baylor, Illinois
Gonzaga, Alabama, Baylor, Oklahoma State
Gonzaga, Texas, North Carolina, Oklahoma State
Surprisingly, nobody chose the fourth #1 seed, Michigan, to make it to the Final Four.
Second-seeded Houston also received no love while #3 West Virginia has to be wondering what they did to deserve being left out in the cold.
Every member of the Sons' voting committee forecasted at least one #1 seed in their Final Four, while the lowest prediction was the eight seed Tar Heels of UNC. There has been at least one team ranked seventh or lower in seven of the nine most recent Final Fours, leaving the door open to this optimistic premonition coming true.
So, how would you rate the picks? Share your Final Four with us on Twitter and be prepared for an old-fashioned round table on why it might or might not happen!