March Madness is underway, as the First Four tipped off on Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio. Michigan fans anxious to watch their team begin its fifth NCAA Tournament in six seasons will have to wait until Wednesday night at 9:10 p.m., however, when the Wolverines take on Tulsa at University of Dayton Arena.

This year’s field appears to be wide open, with controversy already brewing as to whether teams like 2-seed Michigan State should have been seeded higher, and whether teams like Tulsa and Vanderbilt should have been in the 68-team field at all.

Controversy aside, with March Madness comes prediction season, and the Daily’s men’s basketball writers are happy to partake. Below, the Daily’s hoops beat predicts which four teams will reach the Final Four, who will win the national championship, which team will prove to be this year’s bracket buster, where Michigan’s road ends and what the Wolverines’ X-factor will be.

For coverage from Dayton and, if Michigan advances, Brooklyn, follow the beat on Twitter: @levfacher, @JacobGase, @sjkauf and @KellyHall20.

Lev Facher

Final Four: Kansas, Texas A&M, Xavier, Michigan State

National Champion: Michigan State

Bracketbuster: 11-seed Gonzaga

Michigan’s X-factor: Everybody knows junior guard Derrick Walton Jr. can distribute, but he lost his scoring touch during the first two games of the Big Ten Tournament. If he can make shots consistently instead of sporadically, the Wolverines should be in good shape.

Michigan’s road ends here: A second-round loss to West Virginia in Brooklyn, following wins over Tulsa and Notre Dame.

Jacob Gase

Final Four: Kansas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Michigan State

National Champion: North Carolina

Bracketbuster: 11-seed Wichita State

Michigan’s X-factor: Duncan Robinson’s 3-point shooting. If he can shoot at the clip he was early in the season and against Northwestern in the Big Ten Tournament, itll be a huge scoring boost for Michigan.

Michigan’s road ends here: A second-round loss to West Virginia in Brooklyn, following wins over Tulsa and Notre Dame.

Simon Kaufman

Final Four: Maryland, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Michigan State 

National Champion: Michigan State

Bracketbuster: 12-seed Yale

Michigan’s X-factor: Four words: Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman.

Michigan’s road ends here: A loss to Notre Dame on Friday, following a win over Tulsa. 

Kelly Hall

Final Four: Kansas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Michigan State

National Champion: Kansas

Bracketbuster: 11-seed Gonzaga

Michigan’s X-factor: Juniors Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin are becoming more confident in their leadership roles, stepping up for a team without any seniors. In order to compete with experienced teams, their continued influence will be necessary.

Michigan’s road ends here: A second-round loss to West Virginia in Brooklyn, following wins over Tulsa and Notre Dame.

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