March Madness 2022 National Champion Predictions
With the field of 68 announced and games set to begin on Tuesday, the NCAA Tournament is about to heat up. Here’s a look at our predictions for this years’ National Champion.
Thomas English: Gonzaga Bulldogs
The Zags are poised for yet another deep run in the tournament after reaching the championship last season and receiving the No. 1 overall seed in the bracket this year.
They are led by one of the most dynamic frontcourts in the country with Drew Timme and freshman Chet Holmgren. Both players were just named second-team All-Americans for this season. The duo combines for 31.7 points and 15.9 boards a game.
Standing at 7 feet, Holmgren has provided the Zags with a presence at the rim that they missed on last year’s team. He averages 3.6 blocks per game, which ranks fourth in the country, but he also alters many shots at the rim.
Gonzaga will have to do without Jalen Suggs' heroic buzzer-beaters and Corey Kispert’s hot shooting as both players were selected in the draft, but Timme’s experience along with the depth of this roster should provide them with more than enough tools to win the title.
The Bulldogs will have a lot to prove in this year’s tournament, but watch out for the West Coast Conference champs as they prepare to make a ton of noise during March Madness.
Justin Ciavolella: Tennessee Volunteers
The winner of the SEC Tournament will come into the big dance with a little extra motivation after they were awarded the No. 3 seed in the South region. Two SEC teams, the Auburn Tigers and Kentucky Wildcats were awarded No. 2 seeds over the Volunteers.
The Volunteers have been propelled by the play of Kennedy Chandler and Josiah-Jordan James this season. Chandler leads the team with 13.8 points, 4.6 assists and 2.1 steals per game. James adds an average of 5.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks to lead the team.
Tennessee does not need to rely on these players though as Santiago Vescovi, John Fulkerson and Zakai Zeigler are all viable options for coach Rick Barnes.
With short turnarounds between games, opposing coaches will have to quickly create a game plan to slow down the Volunteers' abundance of scoring options. In the SEC Tournament, Tennessee capitalized as they outscored opponents by an average of 13 points per game.
Tennessee has never made it to the Final Four, but this year is the year to do it.
Eric Fenstermaker: Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky has three main factors on its side entering the tournament.
First, Kentucky is in the easiest region. Baylor is a weak No. 1 seed, and Purdue is inconsistent and shaky at best.
The Wildcats will have no trouble getting to the Final Four where either an unpredictable Duke squad or weaker-than-years-past Gonzaga team will await them. All the Wildcats need to do is get past Kansas to secure another title.
Next, the Wildcats didn’t win their conference tournament. This means the team is still successful but knows what losing feels like and has been humbled a bit. This will serve as momentum in the tournament.
Lastly, Kentucky has what every great team needs: the coach/ star player duo. John Calipari is one of the best in the business, and Oscar Tshiebwe is a monster inside averaging a double-double (17 ppg and 15.1 rpg).
Kentucky has everything going for them, and this Wildcats team should be able to cut down the nets when things are all said and done.
Logan Bourandas: Arizona Wildcats
Talking about a different Wildcat, the Pac-12 Champions are riding high heading into the tournament.
Arizona is coming off a convincing win over a talented and experienced UCLA team to win their conference tournament in what was its second win over the Bruins of the year.
That gave the Wildcats a No. 1 seed in what is a very winnable South region.
While they haven’t played No. 2 Villanova this season, the Wildcats had the opportunity to face off against both No. 3 Tennessee and No. 4 Illinois during the season.
Against the best competition in the region, Arizona fell to the Volunteers in a four-point road loss but defeated the Fighting Illini in a four-point road win.
Both of those games were early in the season and since those games, the Wildcats have only lost twice and were able to defeat both of those teams later on in the Pac-12 tournament in Colorado and UCLA.
Bennedict Mathurin leads a deep Arizona team that looks poised to make the push to the finish line.
Thomas English is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
Justin Ciavolella is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eric Fenstermaker is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at email@example.com.
Logan Bourandas is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Third-Year / Broadcast Journalism
Senior / Broadcast Journalist
Eric Fenstermaker is a senior from Northampton, Pennsylvania, majoring in broadcast journalism. He is also minoring in business and sports studies and pursuing a certificate in sports journalism.
Eric is involved in After the Whistle and Penn State Sports Night (PSSN). For COMM Radio, Eric contributes to a variety of different podcasts and co-hosts the Hail Mary radio show, which is dedicated to analyzing NFL games.
Second-year / Broadcast Journalism
Thomas is a broadcast journalist from Shorewood, Illinois which is an hour South of Chicago. He is a second-year student at Penn State majoring in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Spanish. His goal is to be an ESPN broadcaster who covers a variety of sports including professional and college level football and basketball and bring entertainment to people all over the world. His other goal is to spread his love of sports to all cultures through projects that allow children of all ethnicities to learn and play all kinds of sports. He is currently an active member of CommRadio, a student run radio station at Penn State. He plans to create his own sports podcast as well as doing play by play and analysis for Penn State sporting events in the future. In the future, he hopes to use his skills to entertain people all over the world!