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One on One: Who’s winning March Madness?

Photo by Jacob Rice via Unsplash


By Umar Syed

The greatest basketball tournament of all time returns with a plethora of teams picked to win. Some names include Connecticut, Purdue, Houston and North Carolina, but the one team that should be taken seriously is Illinois.

The Fighting Illini have been in the NCAA tournament for the last four years and have proven that they have every right to be in the tournament after winning the Big Ten tournament. You’d be sorely mistaken if you don’t think they are threats to any of the schools in their region.

Illinois has beaten teams like Wisconsin, Michigan State, Nebraska and Northwestern while challenging the powerhouse of Purdue. They are confident in their ability to compete against the higher-seeded teams and know what it takes to win. They have the drive and determination to win and can upset the popular favorites.


By Mason Klemm

After last year’s loss in the Sweet 16, I find it difficult to trust the Cougars again in this season’s tournament. However, they may just be the best team in the country.

In their first year in the Big 12, the hardest conference in the nation, Houston won the regular season title with a 15-3 record and made the championship game of the conference tournament. That is unprecedented, especially coming from the American, a mid-major league. Critics last year believed Houston didn’t play any tough teams during the season so they can’t win March Madness, and they ended up being right. It won’t fly this year.

Boasting a top-20 offense and the second-best defense in the country, the Cougars waltzed through their schedule on their way to a 30-4 record and the No. 2 overall seed in the tournament. Their only losses came from TCU after a late layup, a road game against Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse and the only team with a better defense than them: Iowa State.

A team like Illinois is good and riding the momentum of a Big Ten tournament championship, but their firepower on offense is marred by a less-than-stellar defense that will cause problems for them in the Big Dance. I like the Cougars to cut down the nets.

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