March Madness Preview: The Return of the Big Dance

It is March. You know what that means: March Madness. With the conclusion of conference tournaments, the NCAA tournament is now upon us. Selection Sunday seeded 68 of the nation’s best teams, and we are geared up for one of the best sporting events of the year. I’ll give you some teams I like, some I don’t and potential upsets to watch out for.

My favorite team coming into this tournament is Gonzaga. They’ve been my favorite team all year because I am convinced that this is the best team I’ve seen in college basketball in at least the past ten years. They come into the tournament at 26-0, 15-0 in the West Coast Conference and are the number one overall seed. This team is stacked. They are headlined by West Coast Conference player of the year Corey Kispert, who averages 19 points a game for the Zags. Behind Kispert, they have big man Drew Timme, freshman and future NBA lottery pick Jalen Suggs and guard Joel Ayayi, all averaging over 10 points a game. This team gets out and scores. They are the highest scoring team in the nation, and I think they can win this whole thing and have the first undefeated season since Indiana in 1976.

Another team I love is Illinois. This team is really exciting to watch. Center Kofi Cockburn and do-it-all wing Ayo Dosunmu are a dynamic duo. Kofi gets after it on the boards, and Ayo is a skilled scorer. The two combine for 38.5 points a game and helped Illinois to the Big Ten Championship on Sunday. They’re riding a seven-game win streak and have won 14 of their last 15 in a very difficult conference that has five top 20 teams. Their run at the end of the year confirmed my belief that they will be a dangerous team in this tournament, and definitely a final four contender. 

A lower seed that intrigues me is Oklahoma State. Freshman Cade Cunningham, Big 12 player of the year, is one of the best players (if not THE best) in college basketball. The Big 12 was absolute carnage this year, and Oklahoma State competed with the best teams in the conference. The Cowboys could make some noise and maybe even give Illinois some trouble in a potential Sweet 16 matchup.

A team I’m not believing in is Villanova. Villanova is a staple in the NCAA Tournament because of their head coach Jay Wright and his phenomenal program, but this is not their year. They lost senior point guard Collin Gillespie to an injury in their second-to-last regular season game. Gillespie is critical to this team’s success, and the team felt it, losing their last two games without the senior. They also lost their third-best scorer Justin Moore. They ended the year losing three of four, and they have a difficult matchup against mid-major Winthrop in the first round. Put them on upset watch. 

Now, let’s take a look at a few matchups. Upsets and cinderellas are the best part of March Madness, so I’ll give you a few. The 12-5 upsets are always popular, and a few of them have me rubbing my hands with excitement. I love the Georgetown Hoyas over Colorado. This is a team coming off a huge Big East run, somehow winning the tournament, beating Marquette, Villanova, Seton Hall and Creighton to take home the crown. Don’t sleep on Patrick Ewing come tournament time.

I like Ohio over Virginia in the 13-4 West region matchup. I have never been a fan of Virginia basketball, and I like this Ohio team. Their guard Jason Preston has breakout potential in this game, and this team took Illinois down to the wire early in the season. Keep an eye on the Bobcats. 

Here’s an upset the Colgate people will like. The Colgate Raiders can win a game in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. They easily won the Patriot League championship on Sunday and are coming off a fantastic season. They are the 14 seed, playing the three seed Arkansas Razorbacks. These are two high-flying teams, both top 10 in the nation in scoring. Matt Langel has the team that can give the Colgate Raiders their first tournament win ever.  

March Madness is underway, and the best few days of the year are here, with non-stop basketball from 12pm to 12am, full of upsets, buzzer-beaters and cinderellas. As NCAA basketball insider Jon Rothstein would say, “This … Is. March.”