Favorites, Dark Horses & Smart Picks for the 2018 NCAA Championship

Kansas State leading scorer Dean Wade foot could return from missing the last three games, but these Wildcats are just SU in their last four games after consecutive wins. If there are going to be dark horse teams that might get in their way, they will likely either be the West Virginia Mountaineers or the Florida Gators. West Region Xavier is in as the 1 seed here and one of the obvious favorites, but are they the smart pick? Arizona and Loyola-Chicago could also be teams to watch in this region. Password Must be at least 6 characters and contain a number and an uppercase and lowercase letter. Join for Free

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For Marist men’s basketball, an international recruiting tradition is at a crossroads

Arizona and Loyola-Chicago could also be teams to watch in this region. West Region Xavier is in as the 1 seed here and one of the obvious favorites, but are they the smart pick? I think that label has to go to the North Carolina Tar Heels, the current defending champions. UNC has what looks to be a smooth ride through the early rounds, while Xavier is likely to run into one of the two clear dark horses in this region.

Those two teams would be Gonzaga and possibly Missouri. A tough road there. Midwest Region The Kansas Jayhawks are in as the 1 seed in this region but are far from being the favorite in my mind. I think that distinction needs to go to the Duke Blue Devils, a team that always seems to do well when March Madness rolls around. Duke has been installed as the 2 seed. For details, review Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Add more favorite teams from the list below based on your geolocation. The most trusted voice in sports delivered straight to your inbox.

Sign up now to receive Sports Illustrated's best content, special offers and much more. You may unsubscribe from email communication at anytime. Thank you for signing up! Please check your inbox to confirm your email address and start receiving newsletters. By OddsShark March 20, Resetting NCAA tournament region by region.

With the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament in the books, take a tour through the bracket on who's looking strong, who's alive but vulnerable and why some of the top seeds are out. Sign Up for our Newsletter Don't get stuck on the sidelines! Sign up to get exclusives, daily highlights, analysis and more—delivered right to your inbox! Email Address Enter valid email address Password. Email Address Enter valid email address. Zip Code Please enter zip code or country for newsletter signup.

Though a coaching change is not in the cards for any athlete when they sign a letter of intent, there is added pressure for international players to prove they belong in the NCAA.

Keep in mind, Maker offered most of the six international players on the roster last season their only Division I scholarship. Adjusting to a new head coach, especially one that has only coached two international players since , could turn a life-changing decision into a regrettable one. As for Sjoberg, he was essentially guaranteed a starting spot on the team by Maker, but a bit of unrest may build if these plans are jeopardized by new coaches.

Just over a month into his position, Dunne is tasked with building a relationship with players familiar with his coaching style, but worried about their future role on the team. With any new coach, gaining trust is imperative.

Dunne does not seem too worried about connecting with players, international or not. There is often a sit-back-and-wait approach, where coaches from national teams contact American schools about recruiting opportunities.

European professional leagues remain a likely possibility for Division I prospects, but the college experience in the United States is a one-time opportunity. Faced with an unexpected coaching change, international athletes are left up in the air about their place on a roster.

Committing to a Division I program is rare for foreigners, but adapting to a new coach is worth the chance to play with the best collegiate players. Marist has developed a pedigree of overseas recruits, so players like Knudsen and Sjoberg can rest assured that their talents will likely be valued under Dunne.

The Villanova Wildcats and Jalen Brunson have won every one of their NCAA Tournament games this year by at least 10 points, including a matchup against a team whose defense was just as stingy as that of their Monday night opponent, the Michigan Wolverines.

The Wildcats are 6. The favored Wildcats are straight-up in their last nine matchups against the Big Ten, the conference in which Michigan plays, while Villanova is also against the spread in its last 11 games against Big Ten opponents.

The Wolverines are no slouches, having gone SU and ATS in their last 14 games, but they are the first team to reach the national final without playing any team seeded No. The main question with Michigan, which is SU and ATS, is whether a team from the Big Ten, whose best teams all play at a deliberate pace, can match up with Villanova, which plays at much faster tempo and leads the nation in scoring.

Michigan, which is SU in its last 31 games as an underdog of 6. Villanova had a poor shooting day against Texas Tech, another strong defensive team, at the Elite Eight stage, but still won to get the cover in that game. Villanova, SU and ATS, might face some challenges with getting their trademark plethora of clean looks from the three-point line. Michigan has kept 12 of its last 14 opponents below their average number of attempted threes.