Even though the site of this year’s NCAAB Final Four in Indianapolis is more than 7,000 miles away from Saipan, hoops fans on island are still rooting for their favorite team to win it all this year.
Three No. 1s—Kentucky, Duke, and Wisconsin—and perennial powerhouse Michigan State (No. 7) have made it to the Final Four this weekend and by the looks of it our nine local prognosticators are split between the Duke Blue Devils and the perfect Kentucky Wildcats with a couple placing their bets on darkhorse Wisconsin Badgers and the underdog Michigan State Spartans.
“I’m a Duke, just like I’m a Laker and Raider and Yankee fan. Diehard all the way. Will never change regardless. Well for Duke first off, they have Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski). If there’s any coach that is more experienced especially in the semis and finals, it would be him. Then you got a Duke big guy who can shoot, dribble, drive, defense, post up, etc. Pretty much he can do it all. And if he plays his game and gets the support he needs just like the game against Gonzaga, then they’ll do good.
Lastly, Duke has a pretty good supporting cast. The freshman and sophomores are playing like pros in the past couple of games so all they need to do is the same and they should be good against Michigan
Kentucky is the favorite, but it will definitely be a hell of a game should they both meet in the championship.”
MARPAC sales manager for beverage and tobacco division
“It is really tough to pick. All the teams have great talent along with a great coaching staff. I think Kentucky is the favorite, however their last game showed that they are beatable and gave confidence to the other teams. I am going to go with Duke this year. I believe that they are more likely to play up to the hype of the championship game.”
MHS basketball team coach
“March Madness has been pretty crazy, but these four teams definitely deserve to play in the title game. Wisconsin has a pretty good offensive efficiency, while Kentucky has a solid defensive efficiency. Duke I think is the most balanced team with a strong will versus a let-it-fly-from-downtown attitude of Michigan State. I’m going for the Wildcats (Kentucky) versus the Blue Devils (Duke) in the title game. But, Duke might need a miracle (Christian) Laettner shot to win the game. Wildcats may win it all. It’s tough to play against a full Four Horsemen rotation of talented centers. They will anchor the Wildcats to a championship win!”
Hoopaholics basketball team player
“Kentucky will win it all, 40-0. They’re undefeated for a reason. They have the height in their roster that makes it difficult for other teams to score and they also have a deep bench they can turn to for support. I love how they share the ball and play as a team.”
Many-time CNMI National Team member
“I root for Kentucky. It has been more than 20 years since a team won the NCAA with no loses in a season, so perhaps it is time again for an undefeated champion.”
NMSA vice president
“I don’t like any of these teams.”
KSPN new director
“I’m an ACC guy, so I’m going for Duke, They are the perennial powerhouse team, they have a good coach and system, and they have good recruits. I’m also hoping that Duke and Kentucky meet in the finals, since Kentucky is supposed to win it all.”
BANMI developmental officer
“I’m betting for Michigan State and Wisconsin. I also like the top-ranked teams but I always go for the underdogs because as a coach myself, I like to come from behind and win.”
NMSA executive director
“I’m rooting for Wisconsin and Michigan State, too, for two reasons. First, I’m a Big 10 guy. Second, my only chance to win my tournament pool is if Kentucky loses.”
(with Jon Perez)