By: Gary DeOliveira
Mayhem, mania, chaos, disorder, disarray. None of these even come close to the word fit for March: Madness. It’s simple and pure. That is the only way to describe the March Madness tournament. 68 teams taking it one game at a time in the hope to “survive and advance,” in the words of legendary coach Jim Valvano. This March Madness will feel different as the college basketball world adapts to life without legends Dean Smith and Jerry Tarkanian. Yet, one thing is for sure, and that is that those legends loved March like no other month.
Perfection is something rarely accomplished in college hoops. Yet here comes Kentucky, complete with 18-year olds who love the game like kids. 26-0 and counting. They are without a doubt the favorites to win the title. Many will put their houses on it. The combination of size and agility on defense along with a keen eye for the baskets at such a young age is what allows this dream team full of freshmen to prosper. The Wildcats are the most complete team in the game.
Being the best does not win you the title, as it cannot be that simple in all the mania. Look out for other top teams as well, including Virginia, Duke, and Gonzaga, among others. Virginia uses stifling defense to lull their opponents to death. Duke’s fast paced flare is tough to stop, not to mention freshman phenom Jahlil Okafor. Gonzaga is the Cinderella. A surprising team who has ascended up the rankings to number 3. This squad is looking to avenge the demons left via Adam Morrison. If March Madness proceeds as it usually does, none of these teams will come close to a title. That is the reason why I am going full Cinderella with my selection: the Panthers of Northern Iowa. This team uses an astounding amount of shooters to get things done. They are truly not on a path to get the “glass slipper,” and that is exactly why they are my selection.