The march to Minneapolis begins this week with the official start of practice.

And the coaches are hardly focusing on the streaks at stake.

So why not make a number of predictions that you’ll have to hold me to in March and early April.

Get ready to challenge these:

1. North Carolina coach Roy Williams will pass Bob Knight with his 29th NCAA tournament appearance.

2.West Virginia’s Bob Huggins will tie Eddie Sutton with his 25th NCAA tournament appearance.

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3. Tennessee’s Rick Barnes will pass Denny Crum with his 24th NCAA tournament appearance.

4. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo will tie Jim Calhoun with his 22nd NCAA tournament appearance.

5. Izzo (48 NCAA tournament wins) and Kansas’ Bill Self (47) will pass Calhoun (49) on the all-time NCAA tournament win list.

6. Gonzaga’s Mark Few will go to his 20th-straight NCAA tournament (and another indicator about just how fantastic his run with the Zags has been in Spokane).

7. St. John’s Chris Mullin and Georgetown’s Patrick Ewing will join an exclusive club of coaches who played in the Final Four and then coached their team into the NCAA tournament. Yes. I’m saying right here and now the Red Storm and the Hoyas are going to the NCAA tournament.

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8. Gonzaga will go to its fifth consecutive Sweet 16, Kansas its fourth, Kentucky its third and Nevada its second in a row.

9. Kansas’ streak of three-straight Elite Eights will get snapped (cue the Jayhawk fans for me not picking them to get to the Final Four this season).

10. Wichita State, Arizona and Xavier will have their NCAA tournament consecutive streaks ended at seven, six and five seasons in a row, respectively (not afraid to say this could be considered a bridge season for these programs). Xavier will also have a streak ended of four seasons in a row of winning at least one NCAA tournament game.

11. Kansas (12 seasons), Gonzaga (10), North Carolina (8), Kentucky (5), Villanova (5), Butler (4) and Duke (4) will continue streaks of winning at least one game in the NCAA tournament.

12. Providence will go to its sixth NCAA tournaments in a row while South Dakota State will go to its fourth consecutive tournament (Mike Daum factor).

13. Mississippi State and Washington will end NCAA tournament droughts, going to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009 and 2011, respectively.

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14. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski will become the all-time leader in consecutive NCAA tournament appearances with 24, passing the late great Dean Smith.

15. Loyola-Chicago won’t get back to the Final Four but will win at least one NCAA tournament game for the second straight season.

16. The A-10 will once again cause fits for the NCAA tournament selection committee and force a team out of the field that was originally in before the championship game. The Davidson factor will occur again, but this time the Wildcats will be in the field and another A-10 team will be the spoiler on Selection Sunday (maybe George Mason?).


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