Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Madness Has Already Begun

The brackets don’t officially come out for almost three weeks but it’s been clear for three months that the 2015 tournament will be on of the most highly contested in recent memory. True there is the lone unbeaten team, the first since the 75-76 Hoosiers, putting together the best regular season since the undefeated schools of the Wooden’ era, but they have looked beatable on occasion, particularly away from home. Then there are several “really good” schools including Virginia, Gonzaga, and Duke that are loaded with NBA draft picks and have been playing together as a team a little longer than the freshman laden Wildcats and capable of beating everyone in the field. Speaking of the field, there are a plethora of land mines scattered throughout the brackets and pedigreed programs in unfamiliar territory like North Carolina as a 5 or 6 seed, UCLA as a 12, Louisville as a high 4, and Ohio State as an 8. This will also be the tournament of the sleeper, with Arizona as a 2 seed who could easily be a top liner, Wichita State as a 5 whom has already proven it’s worth an ability to get to the Final Four. Notre Dame as a 4 seed and Villanova as a 2 are both teams that will be a favorite for bracket players looking to pick the big upset. What will hold true this year is that the 8-9seeded games should be among the best of the dance and looking at how the brackets shape up ahead of the conference tournaments all will be must see tv, Ohio St. vs. NC State, Georgia/Iowa, Ole Miss/Indiana, and Oklahoma St/A & M all should be within two possessions. Ironically, because so many teams have tasted defeat this year, it’s hard to gauge a big upset as opposed to a team you just haven’t watched enough this year. That said standard protocol when making your selections is to pick the 5-12 upset that has become more commonplace than shocker, and of the possible options, based on the pundit Joe Lunardi whom normally has these things nailed to the letter, the Tar heels had better study hard so they don’t get caught off guard by the smart guys from Harvard. There are too many great games to start the tournament to name them all but in the one leading up to the dance we’ve already seen some things get shaken up even Gonzaga possibly getting knocked off the top line and getting replaced by Wisconsin, and we haven’t even gotten through the Conference Tournaments yet. Don’t expect to see the ubiquitous cameras on various campuses on Selection Sunday because the bubble list is so long they wouldn’t know where to place them. One thing for sure, don’t expect to see for number 1s standing come April, don’t expect to win the office pool, and enjoy the music because this dance will be one you don’t want to miss.

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