NCAA College Basketball

NCAA tournament Final Four predictions: Here’s who wins March Madness


Chris Thomas, Detroit Free Press Published 9:14 p.m. ET March 17, 2019 | Updated 1:24 a.m. ET March 18, 2019

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The Michigan State Spartans will open the 2019 NCAA tournament against Bradley. Here’s a quick look at the Braves. Wochit

Free Press sports writers and columnists predict which teams will advance to the 2019 NCAA tournament Final Four in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and which team will win it all: 

Mitch Albom

Final Four: Duke, Tennessee, Kansas, Michigan.

Champion: Duke.

Why: The Wolverines cannot be counted out given what they’ve done in previous March’s. But when Duke has been healthy, it has been virtually unbeatable. I’d like to see MSU knock them out in the Elite Eight, but health is a bigger issue for the Spartans than the Blue Devils. However, if another shoe blows out … 

2019 NCAA tournament bracket cheat sheet: Everything you need to win ]

Jeff Seidel

Final Four: Duke, Tennessee, Kentucky, Gonzaga.

Champion: Duke.

Why: This tournament will be remembered as the Zion Williamson show. Just as he owned the ACC tournament, Williamson will dominant March Madness with a series of monster dunks, blocks and brute force. And no shoe controversies.

[ Get ready for March Madness with our free Best of the Big Ten newsletter! Subscribe here. ]

Matt McQuaid accepts the Big Ten tournament championship trophy after Michigan State defeated Michigan, 65-60, Sunday, March 17, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago.Michigan State coach Tom Izzo accepts the Big Ten tournament championship trophy after defeating Michigan, 65-60, Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan State's Aaron Henry, left, and Matt McQuaid celebrate the 65-60 win against Michigan in the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan State guard Cassius Winston with the Big Ten tournament championship trophy after defeating Michigan, 65-60, Sunday, March 17, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago.Michigan State forward Xavier Tillman smiles after the 65-60 win against Michigan in the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan State guard Cassius Winston cuts the net after the 65-60 win against Michigan in the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan State's Matt McQuaid cuts the net after the 65-60 win against Michigan in the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan State guard Joshua Langford cuts the net after the 65-60 win against Michigan in the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan State coach Tom Izzo talks to his players during the final seconds of the Big Ten tournament championship win over Michigan, Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan State guard Matt McQuaid celebrates after a basket against Michigan during second half of the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago.Michigan State coach Tom Izzo encourages his players during the second half of the Big Ten tournament championship win over Michigan, Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan State accepts the Big Ten tournament championship trophy with confetti falling, after defeating Michigan, 65-60, Sunday, March 17, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago.Tom Izzo, wife Lupe Izzo, and Michigan State players and coaches pose with the Big Ten tournament championship trophy after defeating Michigan, 65-60,  Sunday, March 17, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago.Michigan State coach Tom Izzo celebrates with his players after the 65-60 win against Michigan in the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan State's Xavier Tillman celebrates a basket against Michigan during the second half of the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago.Michigan State's Connor George, Matt McQuaid, Gabe Brown and Kenny Goins celebrate the 65-60 win against Michigan in the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan State's Matt McQuaid, left, and Connor George celebrate the 65-60 win against Michigan in the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago.Michigan State's Kenny Goins celebrates the 65-60 win against Michigan in the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago.Michigan State guard Cassius Winston celebrates the 65-60 win against Michigan in the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago.Michigan State's Aaron Henry scores against Michigan during the second half of the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan coach John Beilein argues a call during the Big Ten tournament championship against Michigan State, Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan coach John Beilein argues a call during the first half of the Big Ten tournament championship against Michigan, Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan State's Matt McQuaid scores a 3-pointer over Michigan's Zavier Simpson during the first half of the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan State's Joshua Langford kisses teammate Kyle Ahrens as he is taken off the court with a foot injury against Michigan in the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan State players gather around Kyle Ahrens before he left the court with a foot injury against Michigan in the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan State forwards Xavier Tillman, left, and Kenny Goins defend Michigan forward Ignas Brazkeikis during the first half of the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago.Michigan State forwards Kyle Ahrens, right, and Kenny Goins rebound against Michigan forward Ignas Brazkeikis during the first half of the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago.Michigan State's Kyle Ahrens fights for the rebound against Michigan's Ignas Brazdeikis during the first half of the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan State's Kyle Ahrens rebounds against Michigan's Ignas Brazkeikis during the first half of the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago.Michigan's Ignas Brazdeikis celebrates a 3-pointer against Michigan State during the first half of the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan State forward Xavier Tillman scores against Michigan during the first half of the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago.Michigan State's Aaron Henry defends Michigan's Charles Matthews during the first half of the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan State's Nick Ward scores against Michigan's Jon Teske during the second half of the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan State's Kenny Goins blocks a shot by Michigan's Zavier Simpson during the first half of the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan State's Cassius Winston blocks a shot by Michigan's Zavier Simpson during the first half of the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan State's Cassius Winston brings the ball up court during the first half against Michigan in the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan State's Xavier Tillman defends Michigan's Eli Brooks during the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan State's Xavier Tillman goes for the ball against Michigan's Jon Teske during the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan State's Nick Ward passes around Michigan's Jon Teske during Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago.Michigan's Jordan Poole warms up before the Big Ten tournament championship against Michigan State, Sunday, March 17, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago.Michigan forwards Ignas Brazdeikis, bottom, and Isaiah Livers warm up before the Big Ten tournament championship against Michigan State, Sunday, March 17, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago.Michigan State's Xavier Tillman warms up before the Big Ten tournament championship against Michigan, Sunday, March 17, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago.The Michigan band performs before the Big Ten tournament championship against Michigan State, Sunday, March 17, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago.Michigan State's Nick Ward warms up before the Big Ten tournament championship against Michigan, Sunday, March 17, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago.

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Shawn Windsor

Final Four: Duke, Tennessee, North Carolina, Gonzaga.

Champion: North Carolina.

Why: Duke may be the most talented team in the country and Tennessee may be the most experienced. But the Tar Heels have the best combination of both. Roy Williams knocks off the Volunteers in the semifinals and then Gonzaga in an epic title game.   

MSU’s Matt McQuaid told Kyle Ahrens: ‘I’m about to go off.’ Then he did ]

Nick Baumgardner

Final Four: Duke, Tennessee, Kentucky, Gonzaga.

Champion: Duke.

Why: Duke’s the team to beat, as Zion Williamson is the best player in the country by a long shot. I really like Kentucky’s depth and overall potential, as this feels like a pretty classic John Calipari team. Tennessee’s filled with veteran players who can make things happen. Gonzaga? Someone’s got to win the West. Could be Michigan again. Could be Texas Tech. In the end, though, I’ll take Duke to win the whole thing. 

[ Tom Izzo irked at Michigan State’s NCAA tournament draw ]

Orion Sang

Final Four: Duke, Texas Tech, Virginia, Kentucky.

Champion: Duke.

Why: It’s all about Zion, a singular talent who has been the most impactful player in college basketball this season. Good luck stopping him. Having a healthy De’Andre Hunter will make a difference for Virginia. Kentucky, meanwhile, has plenty of balance and, of course, plenty of talent. 

Chris Solari

Final Four: Duke, Gonzaga, Tennessee, Kentucky.

Champion: Duke.

Why: Let’s face it, a broken shoe changed and shook the college basketball world. Zion Williamson’s return from a knee injury puts the Blue Devils as the clear favorite, which puts MSU at a huge disadvantage as the No. 2 seed in the loaded East Region. Gonzaga also has played outstanding all season, which hampers Michigan in a weak West Region. The two SEC powers this season also have been relatively consistent all year.

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The No. 2-seeded Michigan Wolverines open the 2019 NCAA tournament against No. 15 seed Montana. Here’s a quick look at the Grizzlies. Wochit

 

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