We are finally here, hoop fans. The most exciting time of the year. It’s time to scrub off the scuff of your favorite OG Jordan 11’s because it’s time to practice your moves for the “big dance”. 68 teams were selected for the opportunity to be crown “kings of the hardwood floor” in what maybe considered as the most wide opened, unpredictable, “anybody’s ball game” tournament we have ever seen. With Villanova, Kansas, Virginia and Xavier gaining #1 seeds in their prospective regions, there are some sleeper teams who can be in the position to ruin many brackets and have teams make an early departure back to the dorm life. So hoop fans, if you think your squad got a easy cake walk to the title game, you have another thing coming. Here’s what to watch out before you and your bracket turns to an Drake “Take Care” tribute album cover.
- Sneaky sleeper matchups: If this is your first time doing an bracket, be mindful of those matchups that can cause an major scare to winning your bracket challenges. Some may overlook the mid major or low conference teams compared to the high major conference squads who dominated the entire season. But don’t get it twisted. Mid-majors and youthful power 5 conference teams are likely to destroy brackets left and right thanks to star power, impeccable coaching and the most important factor: momentum. Squads such as Michigan, Kentucky, South Dakota St & Loyola -Chicago are red hot as they were able to run the gauntlet and become their prospective conference champs. #11 seeds Loyola-Chicago, San Diego State University & #9 seed Alabama are teams no one doesn’t want to see in their region as each squad brings a interesting identity to the field of 68. SDSU have one of the tallest rosters in the tourney and are willing to pull major upsets off of an squad like Houston. Even #10 Providence are a scary team to avoid as they were able to show the committee that they can battle with the best of them as each of their 3 Big East Tournament games including the championship game have went to overtime. Of course, there’s the #16 vs #1 seed matchups. No #16 seed has defeated an #1 seed in tournament history. But maybe, JUST maybe, that pattern may change. As crazy as it may sounds, Kansas may be on the other side of history as Penn is one of those Ivy League schools who traditionally has the “cinderella foot” the glass slipper tends to perfectly matches with. With Kansas big man Udoka Azubike potentially sidelined for the tourney, Penn has a chance to pull off the biggest upset in sports history if they drain their 3s and play sound defense. After all, Ivy League teams have had recent success in the big dance so fans don’t overlook your future lawyers and tax consultants.
- One last chance for their “One shining moment”: As I mentioned, star power can play a major role in people’s brackets becoming an major bust or an major key. Just look at it from the perspective of teams such as Arizona, Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma and Duke. Each of these squads have potential lottery picks who are ready to give scouts and critics their last encore before they take the stage to shake Adam Silver’s hand in June. Despite the recent controversy, Zona’s DeAndre Ayton is becoming more dominating than ever on the boards. But Texas Mo Bamba have been playing inspiring, lights out basketball as he bring that gritty, tough NYC attitude and grind one play at a time . Marvin Bagley III of Duke has been putting up out-of-this-world numbers for Coach K as he’s been compared to an young David Robinson. But last but now least, there are the super scoring guards who are on the prowl to takeover the tournament. Alabama’s Collin Sexton is coming off an amazing performance in the SEC Tournament by putting up roughly 60 points in his first 2 games before being eliminated by Kentucky. Finally, we have arguably the most exciting guard to partake in March Madness since Steph Curry. Oklahoma’s Trae Young, one of the nation’s leading scorer has one last chance for his shining moment to shoot his Sooners to a deep run into the tournament. Finalist of the Naismith National Player Of The Year award, Young has the perfect opportunity to use the March Madness as his center stage to show fans what the future of the NBA will look like as he is ready to shake-n-bake against all defenders and defensive schemes being thrown at him.
- All Region Matters: There are 4 regions in the NCAA Tournament, West Region, South Region, East Region & Midwest Region. The tournament’s #1 overall seed Virginia Cavaliers will be starting their journey in the South Region, Xavier Musketeers will be the #1 seed in the West Region, the Villanova Wildcats are the #1 seed in the East Region and the Kansas Jayhawks are the #1 seed in the Midwest Region. After looking at the projections of each of these #1 seeds, none of them have an easy route to the championship game. But if you had to choose an team that can possibly get it done from this seed, it would be no other than the Villanova Wildcats. The Wildcats have championship on their side as they are a couple of vets who was on the team that won the 2016 national championship. But the squads who may stop them from getting there are Big Ten powerhouses Purdue & Michigan State. Xavier may have the hardest route to an championship contention. In fact, they maybe the weakest #1 seed of the bunch as they can potentially be upset by 2nd round opponent Florida State, an battle tested ACC squad or the Missouri Tigers who got their swagger enhanced even more thanks to the return of the preseason #1 freshman in the nation in Michael Porter Jr. But this field is so wide open that any and everything can happen on a any given night.
Well there you have it folks. Choose wisely. Study game tape. Trust your instincts. Most importantly, enjoy the beautiful fiasco known as March Madness. First Four matchups begins tomorrow night. Make sure you get download the March Madness live app to be all the inside scoop for all score updates, news and highlights. May your team cut down the nets so you can be like Future Hendrix and “dress it up to make it real for ya squad”. It’s time to ball like it’s March Madness!!