Get those doctor's notes ready and clear the weekend, because Thursday marks the first of four straight days of non-stop college basketball.

Starting with the Oklahoma and Rhode Island tip at 12:15, there will be 16 games on both Thursday and Friday as the NCAA Tournament field is cut from 64 to 32 teams. On the weekend, the field will be sliced in half again with 16 more matchups running through Sunday night.

While the Final Four and championship rounds don't begin for a few more weeks, longtime Embry-Riddle men's basketball coach Steve Ridder and his son, B-CU head coach Ryan Ridder, gave The News-Journal their best guesses at who will be left standing when the Madness comes to an end:


Steve Ridder

Final Four

1. Virginia: Impressive all-out team defense that's holding opponents to under 70 points per game. Well-coached by one of the best in the profession. I think it's their time! I did almost say Cincinnati since we know first-hand how good they are after spanking us!

2. Michigan: Well-coached and have all the weapons and important intangibles that win championships.

3. Villanova: The Jalen Brunson and Jay Wright combo. Say no more! They know what it takes!

4. Michigan State: Spartans are playing with a chip on their shoulder. This is a special team come tournament time!



Virginia vs. Michigan State: Ugly and very physical game, but it's Virginia down the stretch. It's their time! They've paid their dues and do it the right way!



Ryan Ridder

Final Four

1. Kentucky: The Wildcats are extremely talented and getting hot at the right time.

2. North Carolina: Veteran guys that have won in the tournament before.

3. Villanova: Jalen Brunson is the real deal.

4. Michigan State: Toughness wins in March and the Spartans have plenty.



Villanova vs. North Carolina: I'm taking Villanova. The Wildcats are tough, old, and have the most efficient offense in the country.