From obscurity to fame, all it takes is one month
I’ll be the first to admit that I only start paying close attention to college basketball come March. The reason isn’t because I’m not a fan; it’s because I don’t go to a Division I school. Every time Bigs and I turn on college basketball it hurts our soul. I guess that’s what we deserve for going to a school with a larger budget for debate than basketball. But when March Madness comes around, the fountain of hope overflows. We live vicariously through teams like George Mason and Davidson and awkward, white jump shooters like Luke Harangody (he might be deserving of an entire post himself). Sure you can turn on ESPN and listen to the bracketology experts boast about their alma matters, but here we give you everything you need to know coming from the school of upset dreams.
At the end of the year, the four number one seeds should be UNC, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, and Louisville. With three of the number one teams from the Big East, the actual bracket should be very interesting after these three playoff for the division title. Pitt has already beat Connecticut twice this year and a lot of people forget that Louisville actually had the best record in the conference. After the Big East tournament, I think UNC will be number one overall followed by Pittsburgh and Louisville with Memphis possibly squeaking into the top four if Connecticut gets bounced early.
Big Ten champ Michigan State and Oklahoma are right behind the top five. Oklahoma is a team that perplexes me. Blake Griffin is a stud, but when teams start doubling him in the tournament, I don’t know if they have the supporting cast around him. Considering they lost to Texas, Kansas, and Missouri in the past five games, they’re not coming into the Big Dance with much momentum.
Duke, Wake Forest, Villanova round out the rest of the top ten teams. Watch out for Villanova. Led by Dante Cunningham and Scottie Reynolds, they are one of the few teams to beat Pittsburgh and they survived the Big East, arguably the strongest conference in the nation. Duke, on the other hand, is a team I won’t get near. They have the firepower to take down a top five, but they rely too much on 3-pointers and jump shooters.
Last year’s champs, Kansas, along with Pac-10 champ Washington and Missouri are the big names sitting around 14 and 15. I like Kansas’s chances with Sherron Collins, he’s the type of high-scoring guard that can single handedly change the game. Both Washington and Missouri are teams that I can see exiting the tournament early. In their last three games, Missouri lost to Kansas, took out a falling, 5th ranked Oklahoma team, and then lost in an upset to Texas A&M. Washington has a lot of depth, but their schedule was relatively weak.
Out of the other top 25 teams, UCLA might be in position to make the biggest noise. They were a top 10 team in the preseason rankings and they have a lot of experience with Collison and Shipp at the helm. Sitting at number 23 right now, Arizona State is another team I like to go deep in the tournament. Their infamous zone defense is just as confusing to watch, as it is to play against, and with guard James Harden averaging over 20 points a game I think they have the right ingredients for some top ten upsets.
ON THE BUBBLE
It looks like Maryland and Stephen Curry’s Davidson are on the outside looking in which is disappointing because these are two teams capable of coming up big on any given night. St. Mary’s is on the bubble right now. If they get in, keep your eye on them and their Australian Olympic star, Patrick Mills. Texas A&M is another upset caliber team after they took down Missouri. And you can’t forget about Florida, college basketball’s most recent dynasty, who could punch themselves a ticket to the dance with a good performance in the SEC tournament.
TEAM THAT I MOST WANT TO SEE IN THE TOURNAMENT
The Alabama State Hornets. How could you not root for a team with the greatest name in all of sports, Chief Kickingstallionsims. (His full name is Grlenntys Chief Kickingstallionsims, Jr.) Their 7-foot-1 center, with shoulder length dreadlocks and a name that won’t fit on the back of his jersey, is a Native American of Navajo heritage. Chief is actually his middle name, and his first name, Grlenntys, means “strength of falling rock.” Can you say next Disney movie in the making?
I usually don’t like to give these away, but for the sake of future “I told you so Bigs” conversations, here’s one: VCU. Led by Eric Maynor, the 6th leading scorer in the nation, VCU is heading back to the dance where Maynor debuted in 2007 and beat Duke in the first round with a Cinderella-story jumper in the final seconds and then they went on to almost take down Pittsburgh.
Now Bigs hates it when I get more comments than him, but I really want to hear what your picks will look like. I’ve only won my bracket pool once, mostly because I have the inherently bad problem of over-thinking my picks. God knows my younger brother, who picks teams based on who has the scarier mascots or hotter cheerleaders, has put my bracket to shame. But that’s the beauty of college basketball: anyone has a chance … except for predominantly Caucasian liberal arts colleges in the middle of suburban Virginia.
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