Sports lovers around the world are rejoicing because March, one of the best months in sports, is finally here. This month signals the start of baseball season, NBA playoff races, and the best month for college basketball. March also bring March Madness, the NCAA basketball tournament for men and women. The tournaments feature 64 teams from the “blue bloods” in men’s basketball like Duke, Kansas, and Kentucky to the mid major programs like Northern Iowa, Montana, Radford.
This year has been full of upsets in college basketball. Earlier in the year, the number one ranked team at the time in Kentucky was upset by an Evansville team that hasn’t won a conference game this season. Duke was upset in November by Stephen F. Austin at home as the number one team in the country. The NCAA tournament is always due to have upsets every year. Just a couple years ago, UMBC became the first 16th seed to beat a number one seed as they beat Virginia handley. In 2014, Duke was shocked as 2 seed led by future NBA players Rodney Hood, Jabari Parker, and Quinn Cook as they were defeated by 15th seed Mercer.
The seeding is mostly determined by conference bids and how the team did during the season. For example, Southern won’t get into the tournament unless they win the conference title which garners an automatic bid in the tournament. But for a team like LSU, they will get into the tournament off of playing in a tougher conference. The predicted number one seeds look to be Kansas or Baylor (depending on what happens in the Big XII conference tournament), San Diego State, Gonzaga, and Dayton who has been consistent all season.
The NCAA tournament, aka The Big Dance, is where players can also make a name for themselves. Many players can raise their draft stock and become household names after a good showing in the tournament. For example, CJ McCollum led a 15th seed Lehigh team to a first round win over 2 seed Duke in 2012 in which he dropped 30 points in the upset. The next year after his senior season, Mccollum was drafted 10th overall by the Portland Trail Blazers.
My prediction for the NCAA tournament is that the four teams that will meet in Atlanta for the Final Four will be Duke, Baylor, Kentucky, and a team that might surprise everyone in the tournament this year, Penn State. My prediction for the National Championship is Baylor vs. Kentucky, with Baylor winning the national title.