Cougars, Jayhawks and the Cardiac Pack; county coaches choose the national champion

Published 9:24 am Wednesday, March 15, 2023

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Fasten your seatbelts for the bumpiest, yet the most fun, ride in sports.

The NCAA men’s tournament is back and more difficult to predict than ever after a crazy regular season that saw more different teams ranked number one than during any season in recent memory.

Even pre-season number one and last year’s runner-up didn’t make the field of 68. That’s right the North Carolina Tar Heels are sitting out the big dance for the first time since the early 2000’s.

Furman, Charleston, Howard and even Kennesaw St. think they have a chance. Why not? Who had heard of St. Peter’s (the school, not the church in Washington) before this time last year.

We asked the county basketball coaches to tell us who they think will win it all.

Northside boys coach Jared Adams was the only one to correctly predict Kansas as the national champion, so he is our defending champ, which gives him the right to begin the prognostications.

Jared Adams Northside boys: I’m going with Baylor, Purdue, Houston and Kansas (once again) as my final four. I almost picked Virginia to beat Baylor, but the Bears are more athletic. I’m really impressed with Houston and pick them to beat Prude, 67-62, for the national championship. The Boilermakers are a powerhouse, but the Cougars are more explosive, so I’m picking Houston to win it all.

David Allewalt Washington boys: I like Arizona, Duke, Texas and Kansas for my final four. I think Arizona will beat Duke and Texas will take out Kansas. Arizona will prevail in the national championship game. They are a well-rounded team with a mixture of speed and size. They love to play in transition and they get after it on defense. They can adapt to any style, which makes them my national champion.

Michelle Leathers Northside girls: Kansas, Alabama, Texas and Duke are my final four. As a Kansas graduate and former player, I have to go with my school over Alabama for the national championship by a 56-48 final score. There could be a lot of upsets, because a lot of teams are playing well right now. Always stay true to your school.

Milton Ruffin Southside girls: My bracket has Virginia, Duke, Miami and Gonzaga going to the final four. Virginia is a great passing team and the pick and roll is tough to defend. Duke plays good defense and (Kyle) Filipowski can stretch the floor with three-pointers, which opens the lane. Miami and Gonzaga have four double figure scorers and Gonzaga’s deep bench will make the difference. I’m picking them to beat Duke, 64-58, for the national championship.

Will Tyson Washington girls: Alabama, Xavier, Purdue and UCLA are my final four. I’m going with Alabama for my champion.  I originally wanted to have Houston in my final four but with the injury to Marcus Sasser I am not sure how far they will go.  I believe Alabama is battle-tested in a tough SEC and I am not sure there are many teams that will be as physical. As long as they stay healthy, they have a great shot at cutting down the nets this year.

Logan Van Staalduinen Pungo Christian Academy boys: Houston, Kansas, Duke and North Carolina St are my picks. I am a proud Wolfpack grad and think Duke, Kansa and Houston have been playing well since mid-January. NC State on the other hand has played poorly down the stretch and looks like an early tournament exit. With that being said, it has been 40 years since NC State has won the national championship, so why not shock the world again and do it against Houston. Terquavion Smith will shoot a 30- footer to win, but DJ Burns will catch the miss and lay in the game-winner as time expires to beat Houston, in Houston with Houston alum Jim Nance calling his final March Madness game. The Wolfpack will be your 2023 national champions.