By: James Rizzo
While March may represent the coming of spring for many, any sports fanatic knows that it’s much more than that. The middle of March marks the beginning of the NCAA March Madness Tournament, a field of 68 of the country’s best teams competing for one National Championship trophy. Beginning on Thursday, March 17, the tournament commences with a total of 48 games over the course of four days, a college basketball lover’s dream. Let’s take a look at what we know thus far.
Going into the tournament, sports analyst Andy Katz gives Gonzaga the number one overall team for the second year in a row. He “sees Baylor, Arizona and Kansas rounding out the top seed line of the bracket, respectively. Just outside, on the No. 2 seed line, lurk SEC powers Auburn and Kentucky at fifth and sixth overall, respectively” (NCAA). As conference tournaments are finishing up, Auburn and Kentucky will be fighting for a top seed and will look to be victorious in their respective conference championships.
Looking into the lower seeds, everyone loves a Cinderella story. Last year it was eleventh seeded UCLA, who was the second team ever to go from the First Four to the Final Four, nearly knocking off top ranked Gonzaga to make it to the championship game. As for this year, many lower seeded teams will look to make a deep run into the tournament including the Longwood Lancers, who earned their first tournament berth in school history after defeating Winthrop 79-58 in the Big South Tournament Finals.
After the historic win, Coach Griff remarked, “This year’s just been incredibly special.” This seems to sum up college basketball thus far, as many top-seeded teams have suffered stunning losses in their conference tournaments. Whether it be 7th seed Oklahoma defeating 2nd seed Baylor (#3 ranked in the country) in the Big 12 or Indiana’s 17 point comeback in the final 6 minutes against Michigan, the NCAA tournament is going to be completely unpredictable this year, and I cannot wait to watch it all unfold and see which team will be cutting down the nets in New Orleans come April 4.