Who will make the Final Four run in March Madness? Our experts make their selections

Who will make the Final Four run in March Madness?  Our experts make their selections

Who's in your Final Four? Who wins it all? These are the only questions worth asking in the next couple of days.

So, naturally, we asked our staff to answer them. It's no surprise that UConn is the most popular pick for the national championship, but the Huskies aren't unanimous among our college basketball experts.

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Dana O'Neill

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There's a reason no one has repeated as national champion since 2007: It's really hard. Granted, UConn is really hard to pick against, but I've said Purdue since the start of the season and haven't changed my mind. Everyone is reading disaster into the Boilermakers' loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament; They said the same thing when Virginia lost in the conference semifinals in 2019. The Cavaliers went on to win it all.

Brian Hamilton

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UConn and Purdue are the two most complete teams in the country. I know the Boilermakers just stumbled in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals, but based on their atmosphere in the locker room, they had their eyes on a bigger prize anyway. I don't have confidence that Houston will last through various health issues, and Marquette with an always healthy Tyler Kulek has been a Final Four contender. As for the Bulletin of Saint Mary? This is a solid, experienced top 20 KenPom team that is really tough to play against. Everyone in the Western Region is flawed. Why not choose Gaels-force? It is not easy to repeat this. It's also not easy to be better than the national championship group that came before you. UConn managed it. Why can't he lift the cup again?

Brendan Quinn

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After seeing the Big East packed with three NCAA Tournament bids, the gods will conspire to ensure a Big East versus Big East national title game against two teams splitting their season series. Then the gods will decide that the universe can't handle Dan Hurley having two national titles under his belt, and will instead decide to crown the Jesuits their first national championship since 1984.

Connecticut has felt inescapable to me all season. Dan Hurley is a force of nature and so are his team. In as wild and unpredictable a year as I can remember in college basketball, the one constant has been that the Huskies look fully capable of repeating. I'm not sure I actually believe Purdue will face them in the final, but I definitely want it to be true so the haters will shut up about Matt Painter, who is a great coach. In the southern and western regions, I have no idea who will come out. I've toyed with the idea of ​​Kentucky in the South, but that's the least trustworthy team of any with a roster good enough to get there.

Brendan Marks

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I picked a great outside-the-box pick to win it all: Connecticut — which, if we're serious, has been the best team in the country for most of this season. (Purdue has the best player in the country; a big difference.) Tristen Newton is perhaps the most experienced point guard in the country, Donovan Clingan has been playing as a potential lottery pick, and either Stephon Cassel or Alex Karapan is likely to leave. Off any given night. It would take an epic shooting night — like when Creighton hit 14 of 28 3s — to bring down the Huskies; I don't see that happening with their defense.

As for the rest of the Final Four: I'm showing the Caleb Love Bowl between North Carolina and Arizona in the Elite Eight, and I tend to favor the most motivated individual in the game. I'm confused with the south. I'm concerned about how upset Houston is…and the same with Marquette…and (the lack of) Kentucky's defense…and Duke's struggles last week. Maybe Wisconsin has rebounded, after all? And in the Midwest, Purdue knocked off Samford to face Tennessee in the Elite Eight… only to fall to the best transfer in America, Dalton Knecht, and his superior (I think) supporting cast.

Connecticut is the best and most complete team I've seen all season. As much as I love Illinois and Iowa, I don't see the Huskies faltering before Glendale. I think the bracket is set up well for Kentucky — Marquette gets upset early, Duke beats Houston — and I'm counting on the Cats all getting hot at the right time and having enough offense to mask bad defense for a couple weeks. Tennessee is a balanced team with multiple positions, a defense strong enough to keep Purdue in check, and a scorer in Dalton Knecht who can control the game and help Tennessee overcome Eddie's influence. North Carolina has been a sleeper title pick for a few weeks now. Interior ability, experience from Armando Bacot, versatility from Harrison Ingram, a potential freshman in Elliott Cado and a bona fide, game-changer, Kemba candidate in RJ Davis. UNC has enough experience and firepower to clip UConn; It is difficult to repeat. Finally, Rick Barnes has taken down Tennessee men's basketball and reached the Final Four and on the brink of a championship. But the Heels over the Vols in the title game. Davis and Bacot cemented legend status in Chapel Hill.

You've manipulated the Arc of Chaos – the Grand Canyon! Reddish brown! Utah! let's get weird! — Because, did you guys watch last year's tournament? Or, like, last weekend? Chalk is boring. UConn still has a lot of answers. I would love to see Purdue get to Phoenix, but it's very difficult to trust the championship history there. So I went with something more certain in March outside of the Midwest: Tennessee. (Hey, wait a minute…) I had to pick one forward, so I went with No. 7 seed Florida. Yes, the Gators just lost big man Micah Handlugten, but I like this team for their defense, and being small may not be the worst thing . If Tyler Kulek is healthy, give me Marquette, but the oblique injury could linger or flare up again at any time. All of these choices would be wrong anyway. Well, except for UConn.

John Hollinger

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UConn has been the better team all year, even with injuries to Donovan Clingan and Stephon Castle, and really proved what it can do in March of last year. While a rough and random March slide could conspire to trip them up at some point, the Huskies should be the closest favorites at this point.

Nicole Auerbach

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The Big East may have only sent three teams to the NCAA Tournament, but those three teams are among the best in the country — when they play their “A” game. So, I have all three advancing to the Elite Eight, with two of them continuing on a collision course and meeting in the national championship game. When all is said and done, the team that has been the best team in college basketball all year will be the team that cuts down the net. UConn will win back-to-back titles for the first time since Florida did so in 2006 and 2007.

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UConn is poised to join the elite ranks as the eighth NCAA program to secure back-to-back championships. They boast a roster that mixes veteran players with excellent young talent, making them the most complete team in the country. Their ability to excel on offense and defense, coupled with a deep bench and defensive mentality, sets them apart. They have weapons everywhere on the floor and with only one loss in 2024 and a clean bill of health, they are poised for success as they enter the postseason tournament.

Joe Rexrode

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I will not change my choices for the new season, because Bordeaux did not give me any reason to change. It's true that these guards weren't at their best against Wisconsin, but that's the exception rather than the rule, and I think they'll get off to a good start in the NCAA Tournament and get going. 2024 Purdue is 2019 Virginia. Tennessee will challenge the Boilers in the Elite Eight, and Auburn is a very tempting option to upset UConn in the Sweet 16. Kentucky could be an early fire, but we've seen enough stretches of decent defense from the Cats lately that I think the most talented perimeter group in The country will take them to Arizona. Speaking of Arizona, look for the Wildcats to beat North Carolina State to win a de facto Final Four game at home.

(Photo: Sarah Steer/Getty Images)

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