The Madness Returns
by: The Cold Hard Truth
March Madness started a little early this year. It was two weeks ago when 7 of the Top 10 teams lost. That trend has continued during conference tournament play. As of the writing of this story, Virginia Tech just won its 4th ACC game in 4 days, a victory over Duke, to earn an unlikely ticket to the Big Dance. Texas A&M fans are holding their breath. Wins over Florida, Auburn, and Arkansas have the Aggies on the brink of something considered impossible just a month ago. A win over Tennessee on Sunday ensures their place in the 68. A loss leaves them 23-12 and on the bubble. I personally think they've earned a spot. The SEC is the 3rd highest rated conference this year and the Aggies have won 8 or 9.
A special shout-out to Kent State! They had won 14 in a row after a win over Ohio in the semifinals of the MAC tournament. Some of the players got confused and thought the Big Dance was a "song and dance". Whoops! Four suspensions later after a classless video and the Golden Flashes are Flashes in the Pan, the Zips the beneficiary of this increadible stupidity.
When I look through the teams and rankings this year, one thing I notice is the lack of dominant teams. Murray State, South Dakota State, Gonzaga, and Arizona appear to be the shortlist of teams with less than 5 losses. There are some really good teams with 6 or 7 losses this year, and that balance makes this year's tournament one of the most difficult to predict in recent memory. The biggest surprise for me has to be Arizona. Pre-season Pac-12 predictions had the Wildcats finishing tied for 4th with Oregon State. Arizona is 31-3 with a 19-game winning streak. Oregon State lost 18 in a row to finish the season at 3-28. I am hoping to see some similar quality predictions from my CBCC competitors this year!
The tournament is full of dangerous teams. Who makes the run this year? Is it Kansas or Texas Tech? Maybe an injured but experienced Baylor team puts it together? Does Duke win it for Coach K or does a hot North Carolina team continue their excellent play that we've seen during the past couple months? Kentucky has been lurking under the radar all season long and I feel like UCLA is just patiently marking time, waiting for an opportunity to remind us how good they are. Was Auburn's regular season an anomaly or are they for real? Let's not forget teams like Purdue, Wisconsin, and Arkansas. All these teams could do damage in the tournament.
Finally, it wouldn't be the Big Dance without the Loyola Ramblers and Sister Jean. They have quietly got themselves back into the tournament with a win over Drake. Are they an early exit or do they have something special planned this year?
It is going to be a great tournament. Best of luck to all our CBCC competitors. March Madness has arrived!