NCAA Tournament Preview
by Josh Golden
Every time of year has a certain event that makes it loved. November has Thanksgiving, December has the holiday season, June has the end of school, October has Halloween, and the month of March has the NCAA Tournament. Last year’s tournament was filled with bracket busters, buzzer beaters, half court shots, and last second comebacks. For this year, we’ll get to watch a tournament stacked with ACC teams, talented freshmen stars, and thousands of questions needing answers.
One question many people are asking is what team is going to win it all. This year, there is no clear favorite like there has been in recent years. ESPN’s expert on tournament seeding Joe Lunardi currently has Kansas, Gonzaga, Villanova, and North Carolina as the top seeds in the tournament. According to mathematical algorithms put together by teamrankings.com based on Lunardi’s bracket, Gonzaga has the largest chance to emerge victorious at 12.8%. However, the possibility of getting a perfect bracket is 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 (yes, that’s a real number), so numbers are never on your side when it comes to filling out your bracket. Additionally, even though they won their first 29 games of the season, Gonzaga has very little experience playing against top ranked teams this season, only playing two teams that Lunardi currently has as a four seed or higher (and winning both). I recommend selecting a team with more wins against quality opponents such as Kansas and North Carolina, who both have multiple wins against teams in the top 10 in rankings at the time of the game. If you’re interested in selecting a team to win the tournament who isn’t a top seed, look to UCLA, who is currently listed as a three seed by Lunardi. They have as many wins against top 10 teams as they do losses, and star freshmen Lonzo Ball has won everywhere he’s been and doesn’t expect that to end this year.
Another question that is constantly being asked is what team will fill the role that Middle Tennessee State did last year in ruining many brackets across the nation by upsetting Michigan State in the round of 64 as a 15 seed. An easy answer to that question would be Middle Tennessee State since they went 27-4 this regular season with only one conference loss. However, Lunardi currently has them at an 11 seed, so that wouldn’t be a major upset if they advance. I would keep an eye on two different 14 seeds to advance right now: Florida Gulf Coast and Winthrop. The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles surprised basketball fans everywhere in 2013 by becoming the first 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16 with their emphatic dunks and upsets over Georgetown and San Diego State. This year, they have a very similar style of play to the team they had in 2013 and expect to make a mark on this year’s bracket. Also, the Winthrop Eagles, who played the role of spoiler in 2007 against Notre Dame, have the potential to bust some brackets.
Hopefully, March Madness this year will be filled with shocking twists and turns just like it is every year. I think there will be many interesting changes and there’s a strong chance I believe for another year with a double-digit seed in the Sweet 16, but once the confetti is falling on April 3, I expect the North Carolina Tar Heels to cut down the nets as champions.