With the rest of the conference tournaments and Selection Sunday approaching this weekend, the Madness of March is beginning to take over. For those who have followed the college basketball season, like me, or those who start paying attention in March, we’re in for a wild NCAA tournament with several possible Cinderella stories and upsets. It has only been two years since George Mason University shocked the world and made it to the Final Four. They were fortunate enough to play the first four rounds close to home in Washington D.C., but their remarkable run included knocking off powerhouses North Carolina and Connecticut.
While last year’s tournament had very few upsets, this year’s crop of mid-major tourney teams is significantly stronger and should pose problems for the higher seeds.
So which mid-majors have a chance at wearing the glass slipper?
One school that has come out of nowhere and made a statement is the Drake Bulldogs, which will be going dancing for the first time since 1971.
First year head coach Keno Davis should be a lock for National Coach of the Year after taking a perennial loser to a 28-4 record and conference championship, and the hardworking Bulldogs can beat you in many different ways. Remember the name of sharp-shooting sophomore Josh Young. The kid is deadly from three-point land and makes plays on both ends of the floor.
Davidson is another team to watch out for and gave both Duke and North Carolina a run for their money during the regular season. They are led by an outstanding guard tandem of Stephen Curry and Jason Richards.
Curry is one of the nation’s leading scorers with 25 points per game and will have a future in the NBA, while point guard Richards leads the country in assists and creates open shots for Curry. Don’t be surprised to see the Wildcats in the Sweet Sixteen.
And last but certainly not least, Kent State is a team that has flown under the radar all season long despite dominating the Mid American Conference. The athletic Golden Flashes are battle-tested and went on the road to beat then-ranked St. Mary’s. I think this team could win a game or two in the NCAAs.
Now that we covered some of the upset-minded teams, let’s talk about the teams who can win it all.
You obviously have to start off with North Carolina, led by one of the toughest players to guard in big-man Tyler Hansbrough. With a healthy Ty Lawson back at point guard and reliable scorers off the bench, the Tar Heels are the frontrunners to run the table.
In my opinion, Tennessee, UCLA and Memphis are the stronger potential one-seeds. Bruce Pearl has once again done a wonderful job with a Tennessee squad that is 12-players deep and already defeated Memphis.
The Bruins are feeling the Love (with Kevin Love, of course) and have been to the Final Four the last two years, while Memphis’ triple threat of scorers has led them to a third-consecutive 30-win season.
But the team to really watch out for is Kansas, which will more than likely be a two-seed. The (Rock Chalk) Jayhawks have very few weaknesses and show the poise to go very far into the tournament with consistently stellar play from Brandon Rush and Darrell Arthur.
Bold Prediction: At the start of the season, I had Memphis beating Kansas in the final. Now, I am going with Kansas to win the national title over UCLA.