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March 14th, 2017

Def Pen Picks: 2017 NCAA Tournament Final Four Predictions

Def Pen Sports
2017 NCAA Tournament

March Madness (Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports)

The 2017 NCAA Tournament is starting right before our eyes. The First Four games kick off March Madness and then before you know it, the tournament final 64 teams will be set heading into the first games on Thursday. But before we tip-off the first four, let’s take a look at the potential picks for the final four before you submit your brackets.

And keep in mind, you can check out the full 2017 NCAA Tournament bracket right here and you can still sign up for the CBS Sports bracket challenge today! Play solo or compete with a couple of buddies and have the ultimate bragging rights.

2017 NCAA Tournament Final Four predictions

2017 NCAA Tournament

Malik Monk talks to Kentucky head coach John Calipari (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Justin Hodges

(@HodgepodgeHoops)

East Region – SMU
West Region – Arizona
Midwest Region – Louisville
South Region – Kentucky

It wouldn’t be March Madness if there was no madness, and there is no madder madness than thinking that the Southern Methodist University Mustangs are about to make a Final Four run. This SMU team is solid and fresh off a 71-56 win over a Cincinnati team that was ranked in the top 20 in the nation to win the AAC. These Mustangs are tough, used to winning, and are primed to be a major Cinderella.

The rest of the picks, all 2 seeds from their respective regions, aren’t that difficult to wrap your head around. A lot of schools have coaches notorious for being bounced early in March Madness, but Sean Miller, Rick Pitino and John Calipari are far from that category.

When Sean Miller has his Arizona squad at the top, he has gotten them far in evidence to making two Elite Eights and three Sweet Sixteens the past four seasons. Rick Pitino, when not suffering from a self imposed postseason ban, always gets it done in the tournament in evidence with their 2013 National Title. Then you have John Calipari who in 7 seasons at Kentucky has had four final four runs, two of those being with teams much less impressive than the squad he has now.

2017 NCAA Tournament

Frank Mason (Jamie Squire / Getty Images)

Austin Reed

East Region – SMU
West Region – Arizona
Midwest Region – Kansas
South Region – UNC

Everyone thinks Villanova or Duke is coming out of the East but I’m going with a shocker in SMU. They have a bunch of interchangeable parts, they can shoot from outside and they can really defend. I think they have the type of team that match up with Duke and give them fits and are the perfect team to match up with Villanova. Out in the Midwest Kansas and their guards have what it takes to get to Phoenix. I think they matchup fairly well with the teams at the top of their bracket and in the bottom of the Midwest bracket I project absolute chaos.

In the South is where I had the toughest choosing the Final Four participant. I wasn’t sold on North Carolina getting back to the Final Four but didn’t have enough trust in UCLA to play defense well enough to win vs four high level teams. With Kentucky there has been talk of improved play but its come vs weak competition and unimpressive results. In the West it is finally time for Sean Miller to make his first Final Four. To me it comes down to Gonzaga vs Arizona in the Elite Eight with one coach finally getting their first appearance in the Final Four and the other going another offseason hearing they can’t win the big one.

2017 NCAA Tournament

Luke Kennard, Grayson Allen and Jayson Tatum (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Kam Harper

(@BeantownLegacy)

Final Four Predictions:

East Region – Duke
West Region – Arizona
Midwest Region – Kansas
South Region – UCLA

It’s hard to tell if Duke’s ACC Tournament run is a sign of the team hitting all strides, or if it was just a “fluke” run. Grayson Allen played his best stretch of games all season, and that will be a key component of the Blue Devils coming out of the East Region. Duke is arguably the most talented team in the country and now with Frank Jackson emerging they have become an even more lethal offensive team.

The Arizona Wildcats have multiple players who they can rely on for a big scoring night. They have highly talented players at just about every position and a few coming off the bench. The size of their back court makes them a tough matchup for most teams in the country on both ends of the floor. Allonzo Trier and Lauri Markkanen will need to have some big games to push them past Gonzaga.

Not many Jayhawks shoot behind the arc, but the few that do hit them efficiently. Frank Mason III and Josh Jackson lead a high powered offense that will rack up points against anyone. After a surprising loss to TCU in the Big 12 Tournament – without Josh Jackson – Kansas will be ready to go with their full squad. The versatile offense and Player of the Year candidate, Frank Mason III, will be a tough matchup for anyone in their path.

The South Region will not be a cake walk for any of the top seeds. UCLA’s high octane offense will depended on in multiple games to make it to the Final Four. Lonzo Ball and company have had no issue outscoring teams all year and there’s no reason why they won’t continue. Generally team’s with poor defense don’t do well in the tourney, but the deadly shooting from deep can cover up a lot of complications on the defensive end. They have little room for error, but having Ball at the helm of the offense should be reassuring for the Bruins.

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