Prediction: Favorite Duke to lose to Gonzaga

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Prediction: Favorite Duke to lose to Gonzaga

Ever since 1939, the NCAA Basketball Tournament has drawn fans from all walks of life. Although 68 teams begin the competition known as March Madness, the single elimination tournament reduces the field to the Elite Eight very quickly.

With last year’s champions, Villanova University, dropping 23 spots in the Top 25 rankings due to the huge gaps in their starting lineup, opportunities have arisen for Gonzaga University, Duke University and University of Virginia to take it all.

The Duke Blue Devils are blowing up in popularity right now, with a heavy freshman lineup of R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, Tre Jones and Zion Williamson. As the favorites of the tournament, Duke will be shouldering a large burden because of the high expectations to perform well, and even more so with Syracuse University and potentially University of North Carolina blocking their path to the title.

 The team has a strong core lineup but lacks depth in the roster; most of the bench doesn’t contribute much to the high-scoring. This will be troublesome for the Blue Devils when facing potential powerhouse UNC and other top tier teams, since Duke’s coaches will have trouble resting the freshmen if their bench cannot keep up with its opponent.

Gonzaga, on the other hand, has a second-unit to lean on, allowing rest for the team’s best performers when they are out of gas. Such a simple thing will give them an edge when potentially facing off against the Duke powerhouse.

Gonzaga’s lineup also rivals that of Duke, with multiple foreign national players including forwards Rui Hachimura and Filip Petrusev, who have the interchangeability that is less present on Duke’s roster with the potential absence of Marques Bolden.

 Also, Gonzaga’s backcourt of Josh Perkins and Zach Norvell can shoot the three ball, spacing the floor for Hachimura to go to work on the inside. Not only do they have an excellent offensive game, but Gonzaga is also a good defensive team. With defensive Player of the Year  finalist Brandon Clarke holding down the paint, it will be very difficult for most teams to score down low.

Although the gap between the two teams is almost nonexistent, we are predicting Gonzaga as the NCAA champions this year, with Duke being the runner-up in the tournament.