Let the Madness Begin!
March 15th, 2016 by Brendan Pierce
2016 March Madness Preview
Bubble Teams: There is no perfect system in figuring out who the top 36 at large bids should go to in the NCAA tournament, but I think that the NCAA got a lot wrong in the selection process. There are three teams that are in the field that have no business being in the tournament. Tulsa, Syracuse, and Vanderbilt should be incredibly appreciative of their bid. Tulsa had a very average season that was not worthy of the NCAA tournament. Tulsa went 20-11 including 12-6 in a mediocre American Athletic Conference. Nothing on their resume really stood out. They were 6-6 on the road, 4-5 vs the RPI top 50, and 8-8 vs the RPI top 100. Syracuse is another team that I did not think deserved a bid. They had a down year for their standards going 19-13. They went 3-8 in games on the road and had an RPI of 70. The last team that got into the tournament that I did not think belongs is Vanderbilt. They also went 19-13 and went 5-11 in games on the road or on a neutral court. They were 2-7 vs RPI top 50 teams. Instead of these teams getting in, I would have given their spots to mid major teams like Monmouth and St. Bonaventure. They did everything they had to do out of conference, but they got punished because their conference is not as strong as the teams who got in.
1 Seeds: Another area of the tournament that I did not agree with the NCAA selection committee was the number 1 seeds. Michigan State certainly deserves to be a 1 seed. They were ranked No. 2 in the country before the bracket came out and they won their conference tournament meanwhile they still got a 2 seed. Michigan State is arguably playing their best basketball of the season as they have won 9 straight games and 13 out of their last 14. They have a national player of the year candidate in Denzel Valentine as well as one of the best postseason coaches in Tom Izzo. Instead, Virginia got a No. 1 seed. Virginia lost their conference tournament to fellow No. 1 seed North Carolina and has a record of 26-7 on the season. These two teams are in the same region of the bracket so, if they both make it to the elite 8 they will battle head to head for a spot in the final 4.
Cinderella Teams: Every year there is a team or two that shocks the world and makes a run in the tournament that nobody talks about. There have been an incredible amount of upsets this year and I do not think the tournament will be any different. This year’s field marks the most losses among the No. 1 seeds in the history of the tournament. Looking at the field of 68, there are a few teams who I am looking at that could make a run that not many people are talking about. The first team I want to talk about are the Gonzaga Bulldogs. They needed to win their conference tournament in order to secure their spot in the big dance, but this is the 18th consecutive season in which they have made the tournament. Mark Few has an experienced bunch and I like their path to the final 4. Watch out for the Bulldogs. You should also be aware of Arkansas Little Rock. The Trojans know how to win basketball games. They are tied with Kansas for the least amount of losses in the tournament. They also have an RPI of 45, which is pretty good for a mid major. Some other surprising teams that could make some noise throughout the tournament are St. Joes, South Dakota State, and Iowa.
The 2016 NCAA College Basketball Tournament begins on Tuesday at 6:40 with the play in games. Make sure you tune in because you certainly do not want to miss the magic of March Madness!