Alec Dougherty, Sports Editor: Virginia, Villanova, Gonzaga, Michigan State Even without De’Andre Hunter, the Cavaliers have the defensive prowess to make life hard for Kentucky and Arizona’s guards in a potential Sweet Sixteen matchup, as well as outslug Cincinnati or Tennessee in a low-scoring Elite Eight. Junior guard Jalen Brunson will lead Villanova, as they tear through a favorite East bracket, while Michigan State’s depth and defensive adeptness will carry them in marquee matchups against Duke and Kansas. Gonzaga will be slept on in the West, but with six players averaging at least 9.5 points per game, the Bulldogs can take their battle-tested roster and win big matchups over Xavier and Michigan to once again win their region. Jake Blank, Sports Editor: Virginia, Villanova, Gonzaga, Duke Virginia has been the best basketball team in the country, and although Hunter will be sorely missed, I believe the team is deep enough that his loss can be overcome in the court and that the doubt it created will spark the team off the court. Villanova is the most well-rounded and experienced team in the country and has arguably the easiest region of any team in the country. While Gonzaga hasn’t had much of a chance to prove themselves, computer systems like them, and they passed the eye test. Duke is obviously talented, but their defense kept them from reaching their potential most of the year. As it has rounded into form of late, Duke is dangerous enough to make it through a gauntlet of a region that includes Michigan State and Kansas. Emma D’Arpino, Senior Associate Sports Editor: Virginia, Villanova, North Carolina, Duke Virginia has proven again and again that they’re an incredible team. They’re both the regular season and tournament champions for arguably the most difficult conference in the country. They also have the maturity and team culture that will guide them to a deep run. Sophomore guard Kyle Guy shot great in the ACC Tournament and their team unity will be difficult for teams with individual superstars to match. Villanova has been consistent all season long, and they are undoubtedly a talented team. Brunson and junior guard Mikal Bridges are both elite players, averaging 19.4 and 18 points a game, respectively. They’re another team that shoots well and can go on offensive tears that are tough for opponents to overcome. North Carolina was ranked first in strength of schedule, so they’ve been tested throughout the season, which is good preparation for the tournament. The Tar Heels have proved themselves with two wins against Duke, a win against Michigan and a win against Tennessee. Guard Joel Berry II is a great senior leader for this team, and he has the ability to guide the team to its third straight Final Four appearance. Junior forward Luke Maye, who along with Berry II was named to the All-ACC First Team, has also performed very well this season. Duke definitely has the talent to make it all the way to San Antonio, and Coach K knows a thing or two about getting teams to the Final Four. Although the Blue Devils have a tough portion of the bracket, freshman forward Marvin Bagley III — the ACC Player of the Year — is incredible, and he can help the Blue Devils battle past some challenging opponents. Zach Zamoff, Senior Associate Sports Editor: Virginia, Villanova, North Carolina, Michigan State Virginia, even with the loss of ACC Sixth Man of the Year De’Andre Hunter, is a juggernaut that other teams will find difficult to slow down. The Cavaliers’ veteran leadership and consistency will guide them past a difficult Sweet Sixteen matchup in which they will likely face the young talent of Arizona or Kentucky, and Virginia will roll past Cincinnati in a defensive battle into the Final Four. Villanova, a team that was ranked No. 1 nationally for much of the year, will utilize the individual talent of Brunson and Mikal Bridges to advance to the Final Four. The Wildcats have significant experience, and will leave teams in the dust with their scoring prowess. I see North Carolina advancing out of what I consider as a weak West region, relying on the one-two scoring punch of Berry and Maye to cruise past opponents. Finally, I think Michigan State will advance out of the Midwest, if they can get by Duke – in what will be a high-paced shootout. Sophomore guard Cassius Winston and sophomore forward Miles Bridges, along with the experience of Coach Tom Izzo, will lead Sparty back to the Final Four.