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8 Possible 2018 College Basketball National Champions

To pick a perfect March Madness bracket is about as easy as finding a needle in a haystack. If I’d bet it’s easier, I’m sure plenty of people would agree. Or, at least, Warren Buffett would by the looks of it. 
Anyhow, since it’s practically impossible to get a perfect bracket, how about picking the 2018 college basketball national champion? This, at least, seems more doable. 

Here are our picks for this year’s possible men’s basketball national champions (in no particular order). 

2018 NCAA Basketball National Championship Contenders 

Virginia Cavaliers 

Does picking the current No. 1 team seem like a likely bet? Perhaps, but things aren’t always as easy as they seem. 

Though it’s true the Cavaliers are the top team in the nation, it’s also true that only one team has entered this tournament with an offense ranked lower than 21st in the KenPom era (since 2002). And, Virginia currently ranks 44th in adjusted efficiency. 

Should this put you off from picking Virginia as the eventual national champions? Maybe, but you would be leaving a big factor out of the equation which is Virginia’s defense. 

In all 16 seasons of the KenPom era, the Cavaliers boast the most efficient defense of all teams; and, this year their defense is truly fantastic. 

If defense truly does win championships, you might be seeing a title heading to Charlottesville this year. 

Michigan State Spartans 

The Spartans boast a top 20 efficiency rating in both offense and defense. Arguably, they have what it takes to be a national champion. 

Even if the Spartans’ wins this season against teams currently in the top 35 of KenPom’s efficiency rankings are few and that they’re not too good at taking care of the ball, they have a few key players which do make them dangerous. 

The Spartans have the likes of Jaren Jackson Jr., who is as good as any other elite defender on the inside, and Cassius Winston, who is among the best point guards in the nation. 

Purdue Boilermakers  

The Boilermakers are as good as any other team with championship-level talent. In fact, along with Michigan State and Gonzaga, they rank in the top 20 on both offensive efficiency and defense. 

This team is well-balanced, counting among its ranks with the likes of big man Isaac Hass who is very good at posting up and at least four other players who are shooting at above 39% from three-point range. 

Even those players who don’t shoot that often are actually quite efficient scorers, all of which makes the squad one that opposing defenses cannot ignore. 

They also have a lot of experience with four starting seniors and a sophomore, Carsen Edwards, who is also a competent scorer. 

Villanova Wildcats

Jay Wright’s squad ranks 48th in defensive efficiency, which doesn’t mean anything except for the fact that the worst an eventual champion has been ranked before this tournament starts has been 37th. 

Regardless, it also cannot be denied that this team has a duo of All-America talent unlike any other in Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges. And, when you throw in Donte DiVincenzo it makes them all the more dangerous. 

Villanova is also among the best teams in not turning the ball over, is extremely good at shooting and has two players with experience in winning a title. 

Even if they do lack on defense, as far as offense is concerned they’re among the best in the nation. 

Arizona Wildcats

The Wildcats cannot say they’re among the Top 15 in the AP polls. They’re also not very good on defense, in fact, they’re much worse than every other team but one Final Four team of the last 16 seasons. 

Nevertheless, the combination of junior Allozo Trier and freshman Deandre Ayton is a good as any other elite team in the nation. Coach Sean Miller will have to work hard on his team’s defense, but if he can pull them together they might end up surprising plenty of teams when tournament time comes along. 

Gonzaga Bulldogs 

The Bulldogs haven’t raised any eyebrows this season; but, they’ve managed to sneak into the top 20 on both defense and offense. 

Even if their quality wins aren’t many, they’re actually a balanced squad that knows how to get the job done. Also, Johnathan Williams and Killian Tillie are as good interior defenders as any, and when you throw in Rui Hachimura as a possible X-factor it could turn this squad into one that makes a run for the title. 

Duke Blue Devils 

Duke still has some ways to go to correct their struggling defense. But, under the leadership of one of the game’s best coaches, who could without argument turn this team into a force to be reckoned with, there’s no reason not to believe the Blue Devils can win the title. 

Even with Marvin Bagley III sidelined, Duke is far from being short of talent with players such as Grayson Allen, who can get other players to step up. 

Kansas Jayhawks 

The Jayhawks lack depth on the inside; they’re also heavily dependent on jump shots. But, they managed to crush the Sooners 104-74 this week which should silence any question over whether they can win the Big 12 title for the 14th consecutive time. 

This team also has more quality wins than practically any other team in the NCAA’s new quadrant system. Even if the road to a title is still far off, they could make a big splash come tournament time. 

What do you think about these teams, are you expecting any one of them to be crowned as the 2018 college basketball national champions?

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