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Hartwick College's Student Newspaper

The View From Oyaron Hill

Let the Madness Begin


Robert Noto

March Madness, the time of the year when people all throughout the country frantically prepare their brackets for the upcoming Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament. Debates arise over which seed everyone’s favorite team will get, President Obama has his own presidential bracket and Warren Buffett offers $1 billion dollars to whom ever can pick the perfect bracket. Let’s face it, your favorite team will get the seeding they deserve, Obama will pick a better bracket than you and you will never receive Warren Buffett’s billion dollars.  You may ask yourself, how am I to navigate myself through another tournament?  Well, that’s why I’m here to drop some knowledge on who will most likely be the teams with the best chances to reach the Final Four, this years bracketbusters and other teams who could shake up the tournament.

Let’s begin with the four number one seeds.  Quite an easy pick for most bracketologists and college basketball fans: Kentucky, Virginia, Duke and Gonzaga. I’ll start with the Wildcats from Kentucky.  Has any team been more dominant this year than Kentucky?  Barring any unforeseen circumstances like a loss in the Southeastern Conference tournament, the Wildcats should roll into the NCAA tournament undefeated and the number one overall seed.  Bolstered by a starting five that is two deep and lead by a defense that is ranked second in the nation in points allowed (52.7) and blocks per game (7), the WIldcats have the talent and the depth to make a run to the Final Four. They own wins over four Top 25 squads this year. Right behind Kentucky are the Cavaliers of Virginia, who have been sitting #2 in the polls behind the Wildcats all season long. Virginia holds the nation’s top defensive spot, only allowing 49.9 points per game, they have held six opponents this year under 40 points in a game. Virginia also owns wins over four Top 25 teams this season.  Look for the Cavaliers to be dancing all the way to Lucas Oil Stadium this year.

Is there any other team in college basketball as despised and loathed as the Duke Blue Devils? Probably not, but the Blue Devils just seem to keep on winning no matter who they play. Led by Jahlil Okafor (18.4 ppg) and Quinn Cook (15.9 ppg), the Blue Devils have taken down six Top 25 squads, including the Virginia Cavaliers. This last pick may be a shock to some, but the Gonzaga Bulldogs have been one of the most proficient offensive teams in the country this season. Led by Kyle Wiltjer (17.0 ppg), the Bulldogs boast the top field goal percentage in the nation at .527 a game and are fourteenth is points scored a game at 79.0.  While they have been the poster child for successful mid-major programs, Gonzaga has built itself into a top-flight program.

Now for some other teams who have the chance to make deep runs in the tournament this year. Wisconsin has quietly built itself a fine season and resume.  Boasting the 9th best defense in the country while holding opponents to 55.6 points per game, the Badgers will be tournament ready thanks to their rugged Big Ten schedule. Kansas is another quality pick year in and year out. A sure fire and proven program, the Jayhawks have the talent to make another deep run through the tournament.  While on a bit of a slide, Kansas is always a dangerous team that has taken also taken down eight Top 25 squads this year. Villanova is another team that is always near the top of bracket conversations.  This is a team that could possibly come away with a #1 seed come tournament time.  Look for the Wildcats, who are led by Darrun Hilliard II (14.7 PPG) and Daniel Ochefu (8.3 RPG) to make a stab at one of the Final Four spots. Another team that could possibly make some serious noise this year are the Fightin’ Irish of Notre Dame. Led by point guard Jerian Grant (16.9 PPG) and Pat Connaughton (8.0 RPG) the Irish are a potent offensive team that owns big wins over Top 25 squads Duke, North Carolina, and Michigan State.

Lastly, we come to the bracketbusters, the teams who seem to do the impossible and ruin everyone’s chances at $1 billion. While on the rise after recent successes the past few seasons, Wichita State is a team that is not to be trifled with.The Shockers are a potent offensive team led by Ron Baker’s 15.2 points per game. Butler is another team that has flown underneath a lot of radars this season. While the days of Gordon Hayward almost upsetting Duke in the national championship game have passed, the Bulldogs seem to always find their way back into tournament conversations. While in a down year, Butler still has the talent to go dancing to the Sweet Sixteen.  This last team is a wild card, some may even say a complete longshot but the UAlbany Great Danes could possibly create some chaos this tournament.  Led by the Australian duo of Sam Rowley (14.0 PPG) and Peter Hooley (13.4 PPG), the Great Danes have enough firepower to hang with the big boys.  There you have folks, hopefully this brief NCAA tournament preview will help you along with your own picks.  Good luck with all of your brackets and let the March Madness begin!