The Student News Site of McCallum High School

The Shield Online

The Student News Site of McCallum High School

The Shield Online

The Student News Site of McCallum High School

The Shield Online

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Let the madness begin

Shield 2014-2015 co-editor in chief Mary Stites, a KU freshman, attended this Jayhawks' home game at Phog Allen Fieldhouse. Photo by Mary Stites.
Shield 2014-2015 co-editor in chief Mary Stites, a KU freshman, attended the Jayhawks’ 75-65 victory over West Virginia  at Phog Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 9. Photo by Mary Stites.

Julie Robertson’s Final Four picks

I have a feeling that KANSAS will be headed to the Final Four this year. This Jayhawks squad always seems to get a job done right. Forward Perry Ellis averages 16.5 points per game, making him the top scorer on the team. Junior guard Frank Mason leads the team in assists per game with 4.6. Kansas’ head coach Bill Self has been coaching the Jayhawks for 13 years, and it is an understatement to say that he knows how to coach his boys. He has an outstanding record, and his tournament experience will come in handy tournament time.

No. 5 XAVIER is a force to watch out for. with three Sweet Sixteen visits in five tournament appearances, head coach Chris Mack has an impressive tournament resumé. I remember year after year ever since I have started filling out brackets with my family, that I always ask my dad about Xavier. What is really so special about them anyway? Sophomore Trevon Bluiett leads the team in points per game; his 3-pointers are smooth and never hesitated. Myles Davis leads the Musketeers in assists. You’ll often find him in the highlight reels being the one to pass to Bluiett for his flawless 3’s. The team passes consistently and works together so they don’t hesitate when it comes to getting a 3 or driving in for 2. Their flashy talent won’t go unnoticed in the Final Four.

I don’t know why I have something against NORTH CAROLINA, but I do. But now, I’ve seen them in a few games, and yes I can see why everyone has been saying that they have the potential to make it all the way this year. Senior forward, Brice Johnson is always standing out in the highlight reels for the Tar Heels. He powers through and scores an average of 16.9 points per game while guard Marcus Paige comes in second at 12.4. Paige also averages 3.6 assists per game and hits 40 percent of his field-goal attempts.

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Denzel Valentine. You’ve probably heard that name thrown around, with good reason. The senior guard is on the short list for Player of the Year this year. His stats are impressive. He’s the main reason why I am choosing Michigan State for the 2016 Final Four. Valentine averages almost 20 points per game, his free-throw percentage is an impressive 84.5 percent, and his field-goal percentage is 47.3 percent. Head coach Tom Izzo never fails to impress during tournament time for MICHIGAN STATE. He knows how to win, and he knows how to win the right way. He just knows how to coach his players in the big moments He can make sure his players are focused and have the ultimate goal in their minds each game.

Ben Brown’s Final Four picks

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The Jayhawks began the 2015-2016 campaign with Late Nigh in the Phog on Oct. 9. Photo courtesy of the University of Kansas Sports Information Department.

I only have one team coming out of the powerhouse Big 12 this year. It might finally be the Jayhawks’ year after a long string of early upset exits in the big dance. I can’t see other Big 12 teams like Oklahoma or West Virginia making a run. OU is too dependent on the 3-point shot. KANSAS who won their 12th straight Big 12 regular-season title (12!!) is easily the most dominant team in the Big 12. Lead by 20th –year senior and oldest looking basketball player ever Perry Ellis and normal looking senior Frank Mason Jr., the Jayhawks can attack you in many different ways.

Every year you have to have a dark horse in your Final Four; it’s a well-known fact that if you fill out a bracket, you can’t just put all No. 1 and No. 2 seeds. IOWA has already reached its peak as a team during the regular season; in fact, they’re ice cold at the moment. They have lost five out of their last seven games. You may ask, Ben why are you picking an ice-cold team? I’ll tell you. They’re a senior-heavy team with previous tournament experience. They have a scoring machine in senior Jarrod Uthoff who is 6-9 but can attack you off the dribble and beyond the arch. Right now I just have a good feeling about Iowa’s NCAA tournament aspirations.

Another historical powerhouse that I think has a great shot (pun intended) at making the Final Four is the NORTH CAROLINA Tar Heels. With seniors Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson at the helm, they should be a lock for the Final Four.  Their only weakness which is fixable has been closing out games and being somewhat lackadaisical on defense. Every UNC loss I’ve seen this year they have choked away leads during the last 10 minutes of regulation. The best examples have come from rival Duke and Texas. What I also like about UNC is that they don’t rely heavily on the 3-point shot, which in tournament time comes in very handy.

The love child of Nike and the Pac 12 regular-season champion OREGON Ducks are going to enter the tournament as a No. 2 or No. 3 seed in all likelihood. Oregon has one thing about them that sets them apart from most other schools in the tournament: they go 12 deep, with 11 of those players averaging more than five minutes a game. As a team, they also average almost 78 points per game which are good for 54th in the country. They block shots at an alarming rate; senior Chris Boucher blocks just over 3.5 shots per game. Oregon doesn’t really have a name that will jump out at you on paper, and they don’t have someone who can score at will, but they play great team basketball and have great late-game finishing ability.

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