March Madness Preview: What You Need to Know

With the onset of March comes one of America’s most crazy and popular sporting events: the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, commonly known as March Madness. The 68-team, single-elimination tournament is so wildly popular because of how crazy some of the games can be. Half court buzzer beaters and multiple overtime wins are commonplace as every team plays its hardest to keep their seasons alive.

Those who will choose to fill out brackets this year will likely find themselves in an even more difficult situation when picking the Final Four, as opposed to last year’s tourney. Duke, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Michigan State were relatively predictable-teams, but this year it truly seems like the championship is anyone’s to take. Over the course of the season, the No. 1 ranked team has changed multiple times. North Carolina, Kentucky, Michigan State, Kansas, Oklahoma and Villanova have all spent time at the top of the rankings. With that much change occurring, it is clear college basketball is as competitive as ever, which should be a delight to fans who enjoy watching many close games.

Before the NCAA Tournament begins, however, there must also be conference tournaments. Perhaps the three most important conferences to watch are the Big 12, ACC and B1G championships. The Big 12 is arguably the most competitive conference in college basketball, due to the fact that there are currently six teams in the top 25. The winner will likely be either Kansas or Oklahoma, but keep an eye out for Baylor, Iowa State, West Virginia or even Texas. The ACC is a similar story, as the champion will likely be North Carolina or Virginia. Louisville would also be an interesting pick, but due to their post-season ban, Rick Pitino’s squad will likely play unmotivated. The B1G tournament will not be as exciting, but the winner will be in a good spot to go far in the NCAA Tournament. The teams to watch are Michigan State and Iowa. While all of the teams mentioned are from power five conferences, do not forget about teams like Xavier and Villanova, which are more than capable of making a deep run in March.

A player to watch throughout the tournament is Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, who is a strong candidate to receive the John Wooden Award for the nation’s most outstanding player. Unfortunately, Ben Simmons, the believed top choice in this year’s NBA Draft, will likely not be in the tournament. Simmons plays for a very mediocre LSU team that has underachieved all year long, meaning that one of the nation’s best players won’t be around in March.

Of course the most talked about topic come tournament time will be the success of an underdog, or Cinderella team that miraculously make a wild run through March. Many times, a team will become hot entering the tournament and win games it simply isn’t supposed to. Fans love Cinderella teams for the storylines, while Vegas hates them for breaking the odds. An unexpected underdog will likely have another magical trip through March this year, and once again remind sports fans why March is the best month for sports.