Every year around this time, I start preparing myself for what’s about to be the two best weeks of a sports lover’s year. It’s the time of year when we start hearing names of teams that sound familiar only from when you were taking college visits back in high school. It’s the time of year when Joe Lunardi’s name actually means something to college basketball lovers, and the word “bracketology” becomes a hashtag on Twitter.
At this time last year, Kentucky was beginning its journey to a national title behind player of the year and eventual number one pick, Anthony Davis. A year later, the Wildcats are fighting just to get a bid into the NCAA Tournament, and may be looking on the outside in when the committee announces the 68 teams on Sunday.
This has been an amazing year in college basketball; one of the best I’ve watched in quite some time. There may be a team ranked number one each week in the polls, but I think we can all agree there has not been a true number one team that has separated themselves from the rest of the pack. At times this season, Indiana has looked like the team to beat, but even they have proven to be beatable in the most unlikely of circumstances. With the unpredictability that comes with March, and all the madness that comes with the tournament, there is no guarantee that any top team will make it past the first two rounds of the tournament.
This season has been fun to watch partly due to the parity that’s growing in college basketball. Traditional greats like Kentucky and UCLA have had their struggles, while mid-majors like Butler, VCU, and Creighton have had great success against some of the elite programs in the game. This may be the year we see another mid-major make a run at the Final Four, and maybe even the national title.
(In case you forgot about that Davidson team that was a shot away from making it to the Final Four, here’s a little friendly reminder)
There is no one team I have my mind set-on to make a big run in the tournament, but I can’t help but think the teams representing the Big 10 will play well and make some noise. The Big 10 has been the equivalent to the SEC in football this year; it seems like each week there is a top-10 battle in the Midwest. I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least one team from the Big 10 make it Atlanta, maybe even two.
Making a run in the NCAA Tournament is about two things: playing well at the right time, and having the right matchups within the bracket. At this point, it’s honestly too hard for me to make a prediction about a Final Four because there are so many good teams that could make a run if the right cards fall into their hands. But regardless, I will make a bold prediction; there won’t be a single number one seed at this year’s Final Four. Who knows, maybe there will even be a number one seed that gets dumped in the first round.
The month of March will provide us with great moments, amazing performances, and games that we will never forget. Legends will be born, and incredible displays of talent will be brought to the national stage. Guys like Victor Oladipo, Trey Burke, and Ben McLemore will be looking to solidify themselves as NBA lottery picks. Lesser known players like Doug McDermott and Kelly Olynyk could use this moment to prove to the world they are just as worthy as the big names in college basketball.
If there were two teams I would have to put my eye on right now, I would say to watch out for Gonzaga and Georgetown. I know it’s sound funny to think that Gonzaga is underrated, considering the fact they’re the number one team in the country, and will most likely receive a number one seed on Sunday, but let’s be real, can you name one player on Gonzaga’s roster? This team is legit, and could cause some serious matchup problems with forwards Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris. Mark Few has built a great program in Gonzaga, yet has never made it to the Final Four. This could be the year Few’s team makes it over the hump and gets to Atlanta.
We all know the name John Thompson, but his star forward Otto Porter is the real deal. There hasn’t been as good of a team at Georgetown since the Jeff Green/Roy Hibbert days. This team has the underlying talent to get Thompson III and the Hoyas back to the Final Four. The Hoyas should be given serious consideration to all the bracketologists out there; they may be this year’s spoiler.
To all the teachers and educators out there in the world, on behalf of all sports fans, I want to apologize for the lack of attendance that will occur over the next two weeks. I’m sure you can understand our position on this issue. It’s March Madness baby!