March Madness Starting Early – College BasketballSunday, March 10, 2013 11:41
2013′s March Madness could be the maddest of all with perhaps the most balance NCAA Tournament field ever.
I’m Going Slightly Mad
The first tickets have been punched–congratulations, Belmont, Harvard and especially Florida Gulf Coast on your first ever trip to the big dance–the end of the regular season is upon us, and the madness has already begun, earlier than ever.
Buzzer beaters by Atlanta, Valparaiso, Wright State, Air Force and Belmont (again). And highly ranked teams falling like flies all week.
Conference tourney week hasn’t officially begun (always a slight misnomer, really two weeks, since so many of the smaller conferences hold their tournaments while the big boys are still settling their final regular season battles).
All of the above speaks to an ever wilder and wackier March Madness than normal…and isn’t that exactly what we ask of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament?
The writing has been on the wall all season. No single team has dominated. Every team is bound to lose a handful of games, but this year each seeming favorite has been dealt at least one embarrassing or questionable loss, usually just when said team achieved its favorite status. Some examples:
- The Indiana Hoosiers, who spent the most weeks ranked #1 this season–indeed, the Big 10 does appear to be the strongest conference–suffered a 24-point blowout at home against a sub-par (by North Carolina standards) Tarheels squad.
- Duke Blue Devils–a 27-point drubbing at the hands of Miami just a couple games after a 12-point loss to NC State.
- Michigan Wolverines–23-point smack down from archival Michigan State.
- Georgetown Hoyas–a 73-45 crushing to then unranked Pittsburgh.
- Syracuse Orange–lost four of the their last five regular season contests, including a 61-39 wipeout at Georgetown.
- Kansas Jayhawks–a three-game losing streak highlighted (low lighted?) by an unfathomably bad loss to TCU…and then after seemingly having recovered their mojo, the Jayhawks were manhandled by Baylor yesterday, 81-58.
And the team that I wrote a couple weeks ago might be the team to beat, the Miami Hurricanes, have since lost three of five, including an 80-65 embarrassment at lowly Wake Forest.
With the above dust having settled, the Gonzaga Bulldogs now sit pretty at #1 in the rankings for the first time ever. At 30-2 and 16-0 in the West Coast Conference, the Zags may not have faced the toughest of conference competition, but at least they have taken care of business.
If anything can be read from the regular season, it is that we may be looking at the most balanced NCAA Tournament field ever, the most difficult tourney to predicts…and the maddest Madness ever.
I love March!
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