Yes! Finally! It is NCAA Tournament time!
For some, this time of year (aka March Madness) is like Christmas. For others, it is a time of year when they fill out a bracket in which they don’t really know anything about in hopes of getting more games correct then the guy who spent hours slaving away at their bracket.
Here are the basics for those of you who are not so basketball inclined as others:
Louisville was given the #1 overall seed this season. So what does that really mean? Well it means that the NCAA selection committee believes they are the best team in the tournament (even better then the AP/USA Today #1 ranked Gonzaga team). But don’t necessarily pencil them in as champions. Out of the last nine tournament overall #1 seeds, only two of them have gone on to win the championship (in 2009 Louisville was in the same position they are in now and they lost in the Elite Eight to none other than Michigan State, which is the 3rd seed in their bracket).
Who is the next Cinderella story? All of your former Cinderella’s are now on the rise toward national powers. Gonzaga, the original mid-major program, is a small Jesuit school in Spokane, Wash. (undergrad enrollment 4,900), but they are now a basketball powerhouse. The Bulldogs, or “Zags”, have been in the tournament 15 years straight and made the Sweet 16 five times since 1999. This season they were able to land the program’s first #1 seed and #1 ranking in the country. They’re led by 7-foot center Kelly Olynyk, who is widely regarded as one of the top players in the country. And you can’t forget about Butler and VCU, the most current Cinderella programs. Butler made it to back to back NCAA championship games in 2010 and 2011, while VCU made it there in 2010 and to the 3rd round last season. These programs have garnered the gravitas of more established programs and are considered favorites to go several rounds this year, even with lower seeds! So who will be the next Butler, Gonzaga, or VCU? Only time will tell, but my money is on New Mexico!
Farewell to the Big East! Back in the 1980s, the Big East helped make basketball what it is today, with players like Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin, coaches such as John Thompson, Lou Carnesecca, Rossi, and its league tournament at Madison Square Garden. After this season, the conference as we know it will be history thanks to massive realignment that has overtaken college sports over the last few years. But the conference certainly isn’t going quietly. Led by top overall seed, Louisville, the Big East placed eight teams in the tournament, more than any other league.
The Big Ten was widely viewed as the best conference in basketball this season. Ohio State, Michigan State or both have made the Final Four in eight of the past 13 seasons. The Buckeyes, on a roll after winning the conference tournament Sunday, are seeded second in the West, while Tom Izzo’s Spartans are third in the Midwest. On top of that, Indiana and Michigan have been fighting to be the number one team in the country, only recently cooling off on their hot streak. But I am a Big East guy, born and bred. And once again, as it is every year, the Big East received the most invitations to the tournament. So until the Big Ten proves otherwise, the Big East teams will be getting the edge on my bracket!
There is some tremendous talent through this year’s tournament, but if you want to see the next stars of the NBA keep an eye out for these players (all of which could be seen playing in the Final Four this year): Trey Burke of Michigan, Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State, Ben McLemore of Kansas, Cody Zeller of Indiana, and Shane Larkin of Miami.
And last but not least, here is my choice as the 2013 national champions: the Pittsburgh Panthers!!! HAIL TO PITT!!!!! (A guy can dream!)Check out the link bellow to find a blank bracket: http://a.espncdn.com/i/ncaa/13mens_bracket.pdf