When It’s March, It’s Madness

Abrahim Karzai, J1 Staff Writer

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March is an interesting month for sports fans. The NBA playoffs are right around the corner NFL offseason is in full swing with free agency beginning in the early part of the month, and spring training has kicked off in the MLB. But there is always one thing that hooks the sports world together this time of year and steals the spotlight: the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

This tournament is sure not to disappoint again this year.  If history has ever taught us anything, and indeed it has, there is always that one team, that one team that slips into the bracket and makes a mess of things. Every year we see that team go from being the small town school to the one that shocks the world of sports with a magical Cinderella-esque run. The question is… who will that team be this year? Will this be the year we finally see a 16 seed topple a 1 seed? Could it be the Ivy League program Penn, who plays the high-powered Kansas Jayhawks, finally taking down a number one? Probably not. Maybe it will be the local team in UMBC who’s playing a heavy favorite in Virginia? Again, probably not, but you never know in the NCAA tourney.

As we look for the answer, one thing’s for sure, the obvious pre-tournament top contenders are in place. The defending champion North Carolina Tar Heels (UNC) are coming off a typical season that saw them beat Duke 2 out of the 3 times they faced off. A typical UNC season earned the program the number 2 seed in the west region.

While on the topic of the Blue Devils, it was a typical Coach K season. Duke won 26 games, including 13 in the conference, with strong seasons from freshman Marvin Bagley, III and controversial senior Grayson Allen with both averaging  21 points and 15 rebounds a game. Duke also earned a number 2 seed in the midwest, in what should be just another day at the office for the Blue Devils.

Of course, one cannot overlook a consistent force this season: the Virginia Cavaliers. It was a solid season for the Wahoos as they finished with a stellar 31-2 record, going 17-1 in conference play and winning the ACC Tournament. They have been consistent all season, which is why they have earned the number 1 seed in the south.

The other three number 1 seeds are, no surprise here, Xavier, Kansas, and Villanova. Nothing is new there as the 3 programs will be playing in the tournament for a combined 111th time with Kansas playing in the tournament for an astounding 29th consecutive season.

Every March, you’re asked to join a group and fill out a bracket. The person who wins your group is either a full blown expert on the game of collegiate basketball or it’s that one friend who’s closest experience with the sport was when he/she watched the movie Air Bud. (“Ain’t no rules says the dog CAN’T play basketball!”)

I’d like to think I fall somewhere in the middle of that description, so my bracket is below with my eventual champion, Virginia, taking it all.

So, we have our cast of characters,  we have the bracket, and we have the lights on bright. Let’s play some basketball.  

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When It’s March, It’s Madness