College Basketball Weekly SPECIAL: March Madness Preview and Prediction


Nick Doherty, Columnist

Hello there! After a season of waiting we have finally reached the week that every single college basketball fan has been waiting for… MARCH MADNESS! (*fireworks*) The bracket has been set and we now know every single team that has made the tourney. But I think the biggest question that must be asked is… how did Rutgers not get in? Seriously, this Rutugers squad should have been dancing and now will instead play in the NIT. Besides my rage over Rutgers, this tournament is going to be quite a tourney with a lot of teams who have the possibility of making a Cinderella run. So who will make that run? What’s the probability of our Chicago-area teams making it to week two? And can Illinois put out the dumpster fire? Let’s get into it and talk about everything that has to do with the Madness of March.


Three teams to watch:


Oral Roberts:


For the first time since their Sweet-16 run in 2021 Oral Roberts will be returning to the Madness of March and coming into this game they are on a roll. Riding a 17 game win streak and also a Summit League Conference Championship, there isn’t a lot that can stop them right now. Except Duke, of course Oral Roberts had to draw the worst team that they could possibly play, but I am really excited to see how this team performs against Duke. 5-12 matchups have historically been upsets, so they do have history on their side. So Although I am excited for this team, a lot of their success in March will be decided by this Duke game.




A 31-3 team that is also on a 10 game winning streak and I am really excited to see them play in the tourney. I could really see this team making the Sweet-16 if they are able to play well in this first game. It is another 12-5 matchup except this time it’s against San Diego State, so this is another team that I am very excited to see play on the big stage. Personally, out of all of the teams that I have talked about, this is the team in my mind who will have the big Cinderella run this year.




VCU is my underdog this tourney as in all honesty I don’t know that much about this team. But what I do know is that they won both the regular and tournament conference championships out of a very good A10. This is ANOTHER 12-5 matchup (Lots of 12-5 matchups) so it’s another one that could look like an upset. I do believe that VCU has the most talent out of the three teams, but they have to play a pretty good Saint Mary’s squad who I also very well see making it to the Sweet-16. So this first matchup is going to be a barnburner in my opinion that will be decided in the last 3 minutes.


Chicago-area team preview:


With two Chicago-area teams making the tourney this year (Illinois and Northwestern). So without further introduction, let’s take a look at our two Chicago area teams.




For the third year in a row Illinois has made the tourney, but coming into this one I feel less confident than the last two. Since Illinois beat #2 Texas in December, it’s been a rocky road for the Illini. Then they hit a major pothole after the loss to Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament game. At the time I said they had to put out the dumpster fire for them to be able to compete for a championship as I feel like this team can go all the way. So what will it take? Well… It’s going to take them a lot to reach that level. I am cautiously optimistic that Illinois can turn it around in the tourney, but I will need to see a lot from them in their first game against Arkansas. So by next week we’ll be able to see if this Illinois team is real or get ready for next year. 




Would it be odd to say that I have the same concerns for Northwestern at Illinois? Not really, because they are in the same place as the Illini. Northwestern had a surge this season and at points they have been really run to watch, but for some reason they have kind of semi-collapsed at the end of the season. Against Penn State during the Big Ten Championship Tournament it’s fair to say that this team is not at their top right now. For Northwestern to perform at a high in the tourney they will need Chase Audige to step up more. Since the Iowa game Audige has been struggling to score, and for them to be a contender Audige will need to play at the high level of basketball he was playing at the start of the season. If they are able to get Audige at that high level again, this team will be scary to face in the rest of the tourney.


Prediction Time!:


Now that we have gone through everything that I am thinking about currently relating to the Madness of March. It’s now time for what everyone has been waiting for… Prediction Time! (Here is the bracket!) Let’s go through the games for the five teams that I am really interested to see how they perform.


My Predictions for the first round is are:


Illinois 78, Arkansas 74


Northwestern 65, Boise State 60


VCU 67, Saint Mary’s 71


Oral Roberts 81 vs. Duke 83


Charleston 73 vs. SDSU 69


Let the Madness begin!