March Madness: What to expect this year
The 2016-17 college basketball landscape has been dominated by the regular national powerhouses: Duke, Kansas, UCLA, Kentucky and Villanova. These five teams are the general favorites and are vying to win the tournament this year, according to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.
Selection Sunday this year falls on March 12 and the first round games begin on Mar. 16, according to Bleacher Report. The tournament will conclude on Monday April 3, with the Final Four taking place in Glendale, Az.
There will certainly be several shocking upsets that could potentially mess up everyone’s bracket this year. Every single year, there is also generally at least one “Cinderella” team that shocks the basketball world by defeating at least one clearly superior team.
According to NCAA.com, there has been at least one 12-seed that has defeated a five-seed in 14 of the last 16 years.
“Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, Purdue and Creighton are four potential teams to watch out for come March,” Athletic Director John Betz said. Betz has been to several NCAA tournament games and follows every major collegiate and professional sport very scrupulously.
In previous years, we saw 15-seed Florida Gulf Coast reach the Sweet Sixteen in 2013. 11-seed VCU made the Final Four in 2011 and the Butler Bulldogs came within one half-court shot of winning the title in 2010. Steph Curry led mid-major Davidson all the way to the Elite Eight in a magical run in 2008, according to cbssports.com.
The lesson is: don’t fully count out the little guy in March. Mid- majors probably won’t win it all, but they can do enough damage to cost one a perfect bracket by pulling off a few upsets.
“Villanova is probably the clear-cut top choice to win it all, but they have the weight of being the defending champions on their shoulders,” Calo said. The Wildcats are a senior-laden team that has loads of tournament experience, and they have spent the most weeks at No. 1 in the weekly AP rankings out of any team this year, according to ESPN.
UCLA has surprisingly emerged again as one of the top teams this year, and it could end up cutting down the nets in April. “The only knock on the Bruins is their lack of big-game experience because they are led by star freshman and future NBA first round picks Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf,” Betz said. UCLA, in a way,
is the complete opposite of Villanova. “Kentucky plays the same style of basketball every single year, and it just continues to win game after game. John Calipari has built an NBA-style college powerhouse in Lexington in such a short time,” said Betz. Kentucky’s engine is compelled yet again by a recruiting class that was loaded with multiple five-star recruits.
The first and second rounds of March Madness will be the most exciting of all the rounds, because viewers will see several underdogs pull off unforeseeable upsets. Almost everyone around the U.S. will tune in at some point, and everyone will try to build the perfect bracket.
What makes March Madness so great is the process of trying to ll out a perfect bracket every year and watching the games unfold.