NCAA Tournament March Madness Preview

By Daniel Johnson, Staff Writer

Published in print Mar. 17, 2015

I always said that February and the first half of March is the worst time of the year for sport fans. After the Super Bowl concludes the NFL season, the month is dominated by basketball. And as a fan of the sport, I enjoy usually the first week of this.  Football is still in the air, and there still seems to be something different on ESPN.

However, after the NBA’s All Star Weekend, I just want to dig a hole and cry. Why? It is nothing but basketball! Turn on the television, basketball! Walk outside, basketball! You do not like basketball, have two basketballs, professional and collegiate! Thank God that February is the shortest month, because when March comes around, Spring Training in baseball is just beginning. And I do not care that it is Spring Training, that the games do not really count and I have no idea who half the players are on the rosters, at least it is something different. At least we have some variety. However, by the third week of March, my empathy for basketball goes out the window as I sit, watch, and become disappointed with my destroyed bracket, with the NCAA March Madness Tournament.

I would like to apply the lessons I have learned from the tournament to a popular Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast. Gaston, the handsome antagonist, who would be one of the main heroes in other movies, is like the top seeds in college basketball. They’re sexy, successful throughout the season, and are expected to get the trophy at the end. Yet, the Beast, the ugly, monstrous abomination who everyone hates, becomes the hero and gets the girl. Oh, spoiler alert if you have not seen the 1991 film.

This is one of the reasons why March Madness is so intriguing. In most other sports, the top seeds usually win, but not always in college basketball. In regards to last year’s championship, the final game was between the seventh seed UConn Huskies and the eighth seed Kentucky Wildcats. I had Kentucky getting knocked out in the second round to undefeated Wichita State and outside of Storrs, Connecticut, there probably were not many brackets which featured the Huskies winning the national championship. So in most years, I would say avoid the sexy pick, and go with the more mature, seasoned team like Villanova or Arizona, teams not really favored to win the championship. However, if there have been a year to pick the sexy pick and go with Gaston, this is the year.

Kentucky has dominated this collegiate season, and I predict they will be the first team since the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosier to go undefeated in Division I Men’s College Basketball. Unlike previous seasons with teams that are built with freshmen, Kentucky is built with players from last year’s championship run being cornerstones and leaders on the roster.

Now that we have established that Kentucky is probably going to skate to a National Championship, who are some teams that are going to create some tension that people might not realize. One element I always look for is maturity and a team that is battle tested. Southern Methodist (SMU) led by their legendary coach Larry Brown, features seven seniors and no freshmen. I expect the team to go far in the tournament. The entire Atlantic Coast Conference features teams that all could compete for the honor to lose to Kentucky. Virginia and Duke would be the best teams in the nation if not for the Wildcats amazing season. Notre Dame has gotten hot during the tournament, taking out both those teams in the tournament, and winning the conference championship from another contender, the UNC Tar Heels. Also, Louisville always has to be looked out for in the conference.

The Final Four tournament marks the turn of a new, better sports year. Following the tournament is Opening Day in the baseball season, NHL and NBA playoffs, and the NFL’s draft and free agency is still going strong.

The tournament kicks off this week, beginning yesterday and having a collection of games from Thursday throughout the weekend. The championship will be on April 6.

Categories: daniel johnson, Sports

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