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Roundtable: Staffers make NCAA Tournament predictions

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Who should Northwestern fans root for this March?

NCAA Basketball: Colgate at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Ah yes, March Madness is back. Remember what it was like when Northwestern was in it?

Of course, the Wildcats are not in this year’s edition of the NCAA Tournament, but that won’t stop us from watching. Here’s to a weekend full of sitting on the couch and taking in the best the sport has to offer. Our staffers have made some picks, so here they are.

Davis Rich

Who Northwestern fans should root for: Colgate. Rapolas Ivanauskas and his Raiders are Northwestern’s closest tie to the NCAA Tournament and NU fans should channel all their fervor towards the Patriot League Player of the Year. And Tennessee fans can be very annoying.

Who Northwestern fans should root against: Wisconsin. We stan Ethan Happ, but let’s be honest: Wisconsin’s brand of basketball is totally boring and shouldn’t be supported. Okay, the same probably goes for Oregon. But still, a ridiculously lucky shot from Brad Davison kept Northwestern from an upset home win and prevented Wildcat fans completely enjoying an otherwise excellent night at Welsh-Ryan.

Biggest Upset: No. 15 Colgate over No. 2 Tennessee. Obviously.

Final Four: Duke, Michigan, Virginia, Iowa State

National Champion: Duke

Joe Weinberg

Who Northwestern fans should foot for: Buffalo. The Bulls pulled off one of the biggest upsets of last year’s tournament, routing Deandre Ayton and Arizona by 21 points in the first round. Outside of Gonzaga, Buffalo is probably the mid-major team with the best chance to make a deep run, and they’ll be playing with a bit of extra fire after receiving just a six-seed despite finishing with a 31-3 overall record. Who doesn’t love a nice mid-major March Madness run?

Who Northwestern fans should rood against: Purdue. They’re just kind of annoying. I don’t really know why. Matt Haarms is too tall.

Biggest Upset: #13 Northeastern over #4 Kansas. If you haven’t done so already to prepare for March Madness, treat yourself to some Vasa Pucica highlights. Dude can play.

Final Four: Duke, Nevada, Virginia, Houston

National Champion: Virginia

Avery Zimmerman

Who Northwestern fans should root for: Murray State. Ja Morant is electric, and so is the team as a whole. The Racers are somewhat reminiscent of Northwestern in the sense that they’re a small basketball school, so I suppose there is some connection, but really every extra game we get to watch Murray State play will be a treat.

Who Northwestern fans should root against: Iowa. If you want a single game to pinpoint when Northwestern’s season was finished, it was that fateful night in Carver Arena. Northwestern choked, but Iowa never played four minutes of basketball that good for the rest of the season, and for that I will be rooting against them.

Biggest Upset: #14 Yale over #3 LSU

Final Four: Michigan State, Gonzaga, Virginia, North Carolina

National Champion: Gonzaga

Eli Karp

Who Northwestern fans should root for and why: Iowa State. I’m going with an Iowa theme, and this team from the state of Iowa can be a joy to watch. Some of the excitement value derived from this team is that you never really know if the Cyclones will show up. When they do, though, watch out. If the good Iowa State shows up, it could legitimately score its way to Minneapolis. It’s also an in-state rival of Io_a.

Who Northwestern fans should root against and why: I’m going to agree with Avery and go with Iowa. Of all the Big Ten teams to root against — and I typically support the conference in championships — it’s got to be the Hawkeyes. Both Northwestern losses against Iowa were annoyingly close, and for all the talent Iowa has its defense seems to fail it time and again. Fran McCaffery’s teams just seem to underachieve, and if it weren’t for Iowa just being so annoyingly Iowa I would say root against Ohio State, a team with very little intrigue.

Biggest upset: No. 13 Vermont over No. 4 Florida State. This is a home game for Vermont. It’s also March.

Final Four: Michigan, Duke, Tennessee, North Carolina

National Champion: North Carolina

Noah Coffman

Who Northwestern fans should root for and why: Michigan. Colgate is my top choice here, but Davis already made that case, so I’ll go with another my runner up. The Wolverines are a balanced team that is fun to watch and lacks a truly hatable player, sure, but that’s not why I’m telling you to root for them. Don’t you want to be able to be that annoying guy who talks about how your team almost beat the champions? Well, second-seeded Michigan is the best chance for Northwestern fans to do so.

Who Northwestern fans should root against and why: Syracuse. I will never understand why anyone outside of New York roots for the Orange to win in March. The zone is boring, and it allows them to beat teams that are better than them by playing near-unwatchable games March after March. Also, this is true of many coaches, but Jim Boeheim is a crybaby. Go Bears, and if they fail to get the job done, go ‘Zags.

Biggest upset: #8 Utah State over #1 North Carolina. It’s a second-rounder, but the Aggies are criminally underrated and the Tar Heels are the most beatable top seed. Book it.

Final Four: Duke, Gonzaga, Tennessee, Auburn

National Champion: Duke

Brett Haensel

Who Northwestern fans should root for and why: Wofford. Northwestern fans didn’t really have the pleasure of watching their team put the ball in the basket this year, especially from long range. So, watching and rooting for a Wofford team that absolutely rains threes (shooting 41.6 percent from beyond the arc - good for second in the nation) should provide a nice change of pace for those accustomed to the ball clanking off the rim.

Who Northwestern fans should root against and why: North Carolina, for no other reason than that Tar Heel fans are supremely annoying and spoiled. It’s always nice to see the blue bloods go down come tournament time. Of course, the inevitable whining and complaining will be equally as difficult to listen to.

Biggest upset: Wofford over Kentucky in the second round

Final Four: Duke, Michigan, Villanova, Houston

National Champion: Houston

Caleb Friedman

Who Northwestern fans should root for and why: Colgate, clearly. Rapolas Ivanauskas spent multiple years at Northwestern, and he put in a lot of time to the Northwestern program, even if it didn’t translate to the court. He went out of his way to choose Northwestern when he had other offers, and that’s meaningful.

Who Northwestern fans should root against and why: Iowa is a good choice here, but I’ll say Duke, mostly because any average NCAA Tournament viewer should root against Duke. I love Zion, but it’d be nice to see the Blue Devils go down.

Biggest upset: #14 Old Dominion over #3 Purdue

Final Four: Duke, Texas Tech, Tennessee, North Carolina.

National Champion: North Carolina