March means many things to us like the end of a cold winter. It’s the blooming of flowers signaling the start of Spring. Pitchers and catchers have reported for some time to start another season of baseball. March also brings one of the most exciting times in sports. Yes, March Madness is here.
As this month winds down, teams are starting to find their groove and are cementing their seeding for the tournament. The thing about this year, there are no dominant favorites that will partake in the field of 68. Let’s see what the madness may bring us.
At 19-5, the Duke Blue Devils have seen some bad days and find themselves barely in the Top 10 in the polls. Their season looked to be promising when Marvin Bagley returned. A huge and unexpected loss to Boston College earlier in the year hurt and they are 1-3 in their last four games. It will take some doing, but never count this squad out with their postseason experience.
The second-ranked Cavaliers of Virginia are an unbalanced bunch. They have one of the best defenses in the country but struggle with their offense. They rely heavily on their main man Isaiah Wilkins, but he must find consistency in order for the Cavs to go deep. Still, they are 23-1 and this could be Head Coach Tony Bennett’s best team yet.
Top-ranked Villanova is two years removed from their last national championship. They too, like Virginia, have a great defense that will be relied on to carry them back to the promised land. Donte DiVincenzo has come up big since Phil Booth went down, averaging nearly 19 points and four assists in five games. That includes a career-high 30 points to help the Cats rally past Butler.
There would be no madness to March without some surprises and one of those is the University of Tennessee. Head coach Rick Barnes has taken a young stubborn bunch and led them to a Top 15 ranking. Predicted to finish 13th in the SEC, the Vols find themselves in the conversation for the last of the four No. 1 seeds. Right now, according to ESPN’s College Basketball Power Index, the Vols have the best shot at a top seed.
Oklahoma started the year 12-1, but have fallen back in Big 12 play going 4-7 since that start. Of course, they have freshman sensation Trae Young. He leads the nation in scoring with 29.9 ppg and assists with 9.3 a game. Still, it will take more than a one-man show for the Sooners to get to the Final Four.
Teams like Kansas and Kentucky are not as feared as they usually are. Auburn and Texas Tech are two other teams looking to get further than most would have predicted when the season began.
As always, it is going to be an entertaining February as the push for next month gets more exciting. One thing is for sure, of all the postseasons in sports, many would argue that the Method to the Madness of March is probably the best of them all.