After what felt like centuries of waiting, sports fans were finally rewarded with the greatness of March Madness. This year’s tournaments did not disappoint, as fans witnessed heartbreaking upsets, incredible buzzer-beaters, and fascinating basketball. Mazel Tov to Baylor and Stanford for their respective championship runs, and to all the players who sacrificed normalcy to enter the tournament bubble and compete. Brackets were busted, tears were shed, but champions were made.
As any reasonable college basketball fan would think following the tournament, I immediately started to contemplate the future to decide which teams will make the final four next year. While it is way too early to make predictions, these basketball programs will have an opportunity to make a championship run in next year’s tournament.
2021 was without a doubt Mark Few’s greatest chance to win a title. Not only was this Gonzaga roster extremely talented, but when you eliminate the blue bloods from the tournament, the competition becomes much less stiff. If you happen to be a Gonzaga fan and feel that championship hopes are forever ruined, do not be mistaken. Next year, the Zags expect to take in the number one recruit in the nation Chet Holmgren, along with the 6th overall prospect Hunter Sallis. Gonzaga will likely retain sophomore phenom Drew Timme, who went crazy in the NCAA tournament scoring 20+ points in four straight games. Adding two five-star recruits to the young talent of Gonzaga will ensure another deep run in next year’s tournament.
If you’re like me, then you completely forgot about Duke as a basketball program. Disappointing season is an understatement, as Duke finished just two games above .500 and missed the NCAA tournament. The good news for Duke is that they keep most of their talented roster including Matthew Hurt, with additional support from a recruiting class that includes three five-star athletes and the third-ranked player in the nation. It is hard to envision Duke missing the tournament in back-to-back years, and Coach K has an opportunity to turn this roster into a championship contender.
The Wolverines capped off their outstanding regular season with a run to the Elite 8, and look for another deep run in 2022. Michigan currently boasts the number one recruiting class in the country, while also keeping 2021 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Hunter Dickinson. Michigan will lose some key seniors next year, but the talent infusion should supercharge the program as Juwan Howard has already shown an innate ability to get more out of his players than most experts would expect. Look for Michigan to be an early favorite to win it all next year.
Florida State does not get enough respect for the program they have built, as coach Leonard Hamilton has taken the Seminoles to at least the Sweet 16 in each of the past three NCAA tournaments. For 2022, FSU projects to keep multiple key players including RaiQuan Gray and 7’1’’ Center Balsa Koprivica, while simultaneously having the second-best recruiting class in the nation. This team has a chance to make a run in the NCAA tournament if they can land an impact point guard in the transfer portal.
Honorable Mention: Alabama, Villanova, Kentucky
We’d be remiss if we didn’t recognize the Lost Tribe Madness Bracket Winners!
In a group of 99 brackets, the competition was tough, but our Lost Tribe community was tougher. We saw six brackets choose the correct winner, however only five could win. Sadly, our very own Matthew Shaw was left on the outside looking in, edged out by his own cousin, Drew Berke. Avi Caplan, representing Ramah and Ben Kornman, a legend in the Lost Tribe community, found their way to third and second place respectively, with a perfect Finals result. However, nobody could reach Levi Miller, as their bracket, near perfect, finished in the 99.7 percentile among ALL ESPN brackets. Bravo Levi and thanks to everyone who participated. March may be over but the madness at Lost Tribe continues.