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Starting Five: Final Four picks

The NCAA Tournament is set - who does's Eric Bossi like for the Final Four?

Plus, five-star center Marques Bolden finished his senior season in style, while a Rivals150 senior and five-star junior staged an epic duel in a Missouri State Championship game. That and more in this week’s Starting Five.

1. Picking the Final Four

Denzel Valentine
Denzel Valentine (USA Today Sports)

The weeks of speculation about who will be in and where they will be seeded are over as the 2016 NCAA Tournament field was announced on Sunday night.

After taking a look at the bracket, here are my picks for the Final Four and national champion.

I'll go ahead and start in the South, which is home to the tournament's top overall seed, Kansas. The Big 12 regular season and tournament champions enter as perhaps the hottest team in the field of 68. That they were placed in the South and would go through Louisville – rather than the Midwest and Chicago – was a bit of a surprise, but looking at KU's region, I like its chances. Maryland or California could potentially cause some troubles in the Sweet 16, but overall the region doesn't look to have any bad matchups for the Jayhawks that jump off the page.

Moving on to the East, No. 1 seed North Carolina answered some questions about its toughness and willingness to compete in an ugly game with a hard-fought ACC tourney title. However, the team I like at the moment is Kentucky. The Cats have enough big bodies to compete with UNC and they have the best pure point guard in the field in Tyler Ulis. Guard play matters a lot in March and for that reason I like the underseeded Wildcats.

Out in the West I really like the makeup of No. 1 seed Oregon and its play in the Pac-12 Tournament really caught my eye. Chris Boucher's rim protection allows the guards to take some chances defensively and the Ducks' length and athleticism to go with an experienced leader like Elgin Cook bode well for them. I was really tempted to go with Oklahoma out of this region but a team that is so heavily reliant on outside shooting worries me a little.

Finally there is the Midwest, which is home to my current pick to win it all, Michigan State. In my opinion the Spartans have the National Player of the Year in Denzel Valentine, they are playing their best ball, they have depth, they have versatility and most of all they have Tom Izzo on the sideline. I think freshman big man Deyonta Davis will be the X factor for the Spartans and if he can be a reliable scoring threat in the post they will be awfully tough to beat. Should they meet up with Virginia in the regional final, there's not likely to be a more physical game in the tourney.

2. Bolden goes out in style

One of the nation's top unsigned players, five-star senior center Marques Bolden went out in style as he helped DeSoto (Texas) High cruise to a 73-54 UIL 6A title game win over Humble (Texas) Atascocita.

Bolden's line wasn't overwhelming, but in watching the actual game his impact on the result was much more significant than his 12 points, nine rebounds and six blocks would suggest. So much attention was paid to him on the interior that Oregon-bound football recruit Tristen Wallace was able to go nuts and DeSoto's guards were able to really pressure because they knew he was there to clean up mistakes.

Ranked No. 16 overall, Bolden is a perfect example of why 2016 is such a monster class. He looked like a top-10 prospect in the title game, but the question is how to get him there when he would have to jump so many other great players?

Now that his high school season is out of the way, Bolden should be able to focus on making a decision. Sources close to the situation have told that his recruitment has been incredibly tough to get a read on of late but Duke, Kentucky (our most recent prediction) and Oklahoma continue to look like the trio that he will eventually choose from.

3. Porter leads team to Missouri title

The Missouri 3A title game between Columbia Father Tolton and Kansas City Barstow turned out to be an instant classic on Saturday.

Led by 2017's No. 2 player Michael Porter, who had 31 points and 19 rebounds before fouling out, Tolton won a 62-60 slugfest that wasn't decided until North Carolina preferred walkon Shea Rush's last second 15-footer bounced off the rim.

As one might expect, Porter was spectacular in victory. He hit free throws, he spun through traffic in transition for slams and he showed off his deft touch and advanced skill. The target of Missouri, Kansas, Washington, Oklahoma, Kentucky and many others essentially backed up the hype with an incredible performance.

On the losing side, Nebraska-bound senior Jeriah Horne was equally impressive. The No. 129 player in the 2016 Rivals150 had an incredible effort putting Barstow on his back and carrying it with 39 points and 14 rebounds. The strong combo forward hit clutch three-pointers, attacked the basket and showed a high level of inside/outside skill.

For the winners, 2018 four-star and Washington commit Jontay Porter – Michael's younger brother – added 10 points and eight rebounds before fouling out.

4. Corprew cuts his list to three

Deshawn Corprew
Deshawn Corprew (

When the final rankings for the class of 2016 come out in late April, look for 6-foot-5 wing DeShawn Corprew of Winston-Salem (N.C.) Quality Education Academy to make a nice jump up from his current ranking of No. 112 overall.

In the meantime, the athletic and tough wing has cut his list of schools down to a final three of Kansas, Missouri and Texas A&M.

Missouri is's most recent prediction for Corprew and that coach Kim Anderson is being retained certainly helps its chances.

However, Texas A&M has been increasing its activity and Corprew is a bit of a cross between Jalen Jones and Danuel House, who have both enjoyed a lot of success in the Aggies' system.

Kansas could make a move here, but will it be wiling to go all-in on him before it hears the final decisions of 2016's No. 1 player, Josh Jackson, and five-star shooting guard Terrance Ferguson?

5. Plenty of interest for Weaver

Elijah Weaver
Elijah Weaver ()

The No. 19 player in the class of 2018, 6-foot-5 combo guard Elijah Weaver of Oldsmar (Fla.) Christian, is likely to emerge as a breakout star this spring. Obviously given his lofty ranking he's not exactly an unknown as it is.

Already holding offers from Nebraska, Louisville, Florida, Florida International and USF, things are continuing to pick up for Weaver.

The bouncy and tough guard's high school coach, Jordan Fair, told that the interest continues to roll in. In the last week, Duke, Georgetown, Kansas and Maryland became the newest schools to check in on him.

Look for Weaver to be one of the most heavily followed 2018 prospects during April's open evaluation period.