I'm putting in my early pick for the championship now: the Virginia Cavaliers. After this weekend, the college basketball polls were shaken up a bit. Gonzaga stayed at #1, which is no surprise they won considering they got to play Saint Mary's. They have one impressive win on the whole season, and that was at home vs. Duke by two points, and that was way back around Thanksgiving.
So I expect them to win a few games, probably make the Sweet 16, but that's as far as I see them getting. Virginia is #2 currently, and the only team they lost to this year was Duke. It's unlikely the two teams will meet again in the tournament, and even if they do, it's even more unlikely that Duke will beat them 3 times in a single season. I also think that last year, after being the first ever #1 seed to get bounced in the first round, they will take every game with a sense of urgency, which will further help them win it all this year.
North Carolina is #3, but when I look at their 4 losses, they're against ranked Michigan, Kentucky, Virginia and Louisville. They do have a few solid wins under their belt this year, way more than Gonzaga, and I can see this team being an Elite 8 team at the least, but I don't think they can start beating 3 or 4 really good teams in a row. I was hot on Kentucky, but they fell to Tennessee on the road, which wouldn't be so bad in itself, but Tennessee hasn't played that well as of late, and the Wildcats lost by almost 20 points.
Duke clearly isn't the same team without Zion. If Zion comes back, I think he is that good of a player to single-handedly get them to the Championship game. If Duke can get through the tournament without having to play Virginia, and if Zion is back, then I think Duke takes it all, otherwise for now I am picking Virginia to win the National Championship.