March Madness May Just Be “Mad” This Season


March Madness May Just Be “Mad” This Season


Attempting to “peg” the NCAA tournament winners and losers this season is as difficult as attempting to cage a ghostly spirit. Reason being, there are so many top squads yet, there is not one or two dominant teams that overshadow the rest of them. Unlike the women’s college basketball arena, where it is almost impossible (for the last gazillion years) to defeat the women of UCONN, the men have all sorts of outcomes that could happen quite easily.


Think of it this way: Arizona, Michigan State, and Oklahoma are extremely talented – completely capable of being three of the Final Four. However, it is not far-fetched that San Antonio could end up taking them all down. Then again, it is possible, based on how seasons have played out thus far that, Virginia, Purdue, Auburn, and even Cincinnati could be the Final Four. Beginning quite dramatically with the FBI investigation at the forefront of the news, fans can only hope that the “Madness” in March is anything but all-out crazy.


Here are a few things to focus on as the NCAA ‘madness’ gears up. All basketball lovers know that Duke became a preseason favorite when Marvin Bagley III, the top prospect, reclassified to enroll in college this fall. In addition, Michigan and Arizona were sitting on their own positive perches. Trouble is, all three teams hit bumps in the road, so to speak, and their standings slipped a bit. Not one team in the country made it to January without chalking up losses, and there are only two – Villanova and Virginia – that came through with just one loss in their own columns. Those two teams, along with Purdue, emerged as the strongest contenders. Villanova registered the most efficient offense, but a defense that ranked just 42nd. Virginia, on the other hand, is the opposite: the defense is ranked 1st whereas their offense is hovering at approximately 33rd.


There are dominant players who have been the focus since the NCAA season first began, with Trae Young heading up the pack. This freshman is the Oklahoma guard that has been posting averages that would be among the four best in either category over the last two decades. Although a ‘top of the line’ recruit, no one actually expected Young to so completely dominate the game so quickly, but that is exactly what he has done. He has even earned a slew of comparisons to Steph Curry for his ability to hit the distant shots. But he is not the only strong first-year player. In fact, the crop was immense at the beginning of the season. This includes Bagley, a starting forward for Duke who people have stated will be in contention for becoming the No. 1 pick in June’s NBA Draft. He plays alongside two others – Gary Trent, Jr. and Wendell Carter, Jr. who are also on tap to become NBA choices after only one year. Arizona has seven-footer Deandre Ayton; Texas boasts their own seven-foot rookie in Mohamed Bamba; and, the list goes on.


As far as the FBI probe that began in late September of 2017, bringing fraud and bribery as it pertains to college recruitment practices to the headlines, the upside comes with the fact that the teams implicated have not self-destructed. It is true that the teams connected to the scandal have underachieved, but none have literally been stopped in their tracks. There is a chance that more could be unveiled in the coming months, but it would be nice for fans if the month of March concentrated focused on the court and not off it.


The selection committee projections are as follows (from No. 1 to No. 16): Virginia; Villanova; Xavier; Purdue; Auburn; Kansas; Duke; Cincinnati; Clemson; Texas Tech; Michigan State; North Carolina; Tennessee; Ohio State; Arizona; Oklahoma. (


This time last season, the selection committee’s projections were extremely accurate when it came to Selection Sunday. (15 of the 16 teams remained the same.) However, with all of the surprising upsets in recent weeks, selection committee chairman and Creighton athletic director Bruce Rasmussen doesn’t see that being the case this season. We’ll just have to wait until March 11th to find out!





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