Now that I’ve got the time to discuss some college basketball outside of my awesome job with GoPowercat.com, I’ve decided to blog a little about college basketball with Selection Sunday looming. There are some pressing questions that I have even before then.
Who are the No.1 seed contenders right now?
I think the first one is pretty easy. Based on previous history and knowledge of the NCAA Tournament Committee, I’d venture to say by the time this comes out on Friday night we will at least know who the No.1 seeds are. For certain we know that Kansas will be the No.1 seed in the Midwest Region and possibly the No.1 overall seed. Then you’ve got the issue in the Big East? Will it be Villanova or Xavier grab the No.1 seed in the East Region. Right now you can slot Villanova in the East but if ‘Nova were to trip up do not be surprised if Xavier has a chance to steal a No.1 seed.
Then there’s Michigan State, remember them? Yeah the supposed best team in America from November to January then things got crazy. Yeah, them. Well If Michigan State can reach the Big Ten Title Game on Sunday, expect them to grab another No.1 seed. That leaves the last team on the top seed line, could North Carolina or Virginia battle it out for the ACC crown or an Oklahoma has an opportunity to steal a No.1 seed with a Big 12 tourney crown.
Where will the strength in numbers come from?
Typically in the tournament we get the cute and cuddly appearances from the Northeastern Conference, Patriot League and the West Coast Conference. However, do we actually care?
No, in fact hell no.
It’s about the major conferences when it comes around this time of year. Can the Big 12 finally shift it’s regular season success into the postseason. Will the Big Ten continue its run of regional finals and final fours or will the ACC keep the NCAA crown on in the state of North Carolina. It’s hard to tell with this season being filled with top 10 upsets all over the map but I think you’d have to pin your hopes on the Big 12 and don’t be shocked if we see our first non-Kansas Big 12 school make a final four since Oklahoma State in 2004.
Can the West rise again?
If you think the drought for non-Kansas schools in the Big 12 has been long, look west of the rockies where a championship banner hasn’t been raised since Arizona in 1997 (Sorry KU fans) and we’ve not seen a team from the west coast reach a final four since UCLA in 2008. For the first time in a long time, you actually have a strong contingent from the west coast entering the field of 68. Sure you’ve got the standard bearers in Gonzaga, Utah and Arizona but not far behind is a new crop of teams like Oregon, Cal and USC.
Now I’m not saying the teams I’ve mentioned are destined for the final four but for the first time in a long time there’s a chance we may see a few teams from the west coast actually make a deep run in March. The Pac-12 has been coming on strong the last few seasons so it would be nice to see an Arizona or Utah finally break through and make a Final Four.
Is 2016 the year of the breakthrough?
Speaking of breaking through, are we going to see some narratives busted this tournament? Yes I’m talking to you Kansas and Villanova. Ever since the Jayhawks stole the 2008 national title from Memphis, Bill Self’s troops have come up empty in attempts to grab the school’s fourth national title with only a final four appearance in 2012. Meanwhile, Villanova’s drought has been even worse as the Wildcats have taken multiple sweet 16 and regional final contenders to the tournament without getting out of the first weekend highlighted by last season’s outright choke job against NC State. You remember, the piccolo girl right?
The good news is that both of these teams have squads worthy enough of making the Final Four but once again the question remains is will they? I’m inclined to say yes because if not now? When?
Where does Wichita State and Monmouth belong?
They’re cute and adorable, they’ve seen final fours and even highlighted an entire day of SportsCenter but where do Wichita State and Monmouth belong in the bracket or do they even belong at all? If I were on the committee Wichita State would not be in. Simply because they have a very underwhelming resume. Their lone good win in a 67-50 victory at home against then No.25 Utah, was it a good win? I mean, I guess.
What hurts Wichita State is that any opportunity they they were given to get a “quality win” they squandered, sure some of it was due to star guard Fred VanVleet being out with an injury early in the season but losses to Illinois State and losing two out of three to Northern Iowa, including a 57-52 loss in overtime at the Missouri Valley Tournament. What helps Wichita State in this case is they’ve got a fantastic recent history in the NCAA Tournament, fresh off a final four, number one seed and sweet 16 appearance in the last three seasons, it easy to see why so many want to put the Shockers in the field.
As for Monmouth, I think it’s the first time that a bench is why people want them in the tournament, and it’s not even the guys who come off the bench. Unlike the Shockers, Monmouth actually has some solid resume wins against Notre Dame and USC both of which coming in the SAME EXACT tournament as Wichita State. So those wins alone should put Monmouth slightly, just slightly ahead of Wichita State come selection Sunday.
Are there sleepers this year?
In a season in which it seems like nobody is stable, it’s hard to find sleepers out there but this is why I’m here right? One team I’m very high on is Cal. Sure they have a lot of young players in Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown but they’re starting to gel at the right time. Cal should be anywhere from a four to six seed which is pretty good if they want to get to a Sweet 16 in this field. Another team I’m high on is Providence, Kris Dunn is the best player in America NOT named Buddy Hield. Averaging 16 points and nine assists a game, it’s easy to see that wether they’re sitting at a seven, eight or nine seed this team will give teams issues and don’t be surprised if Providence reaches their first regional final since 1997.
What the hell happened to ______??
This is the type of field where you just can’t trust anybody, I mean there was a time where Kentucky, Iowa and Maryland seemed like safe final four picks. Duke was someone you didn’t even think about possibly losing in the first round. This year’s tournament will be one of the craziest yet and at the end we will be sitting back and thinking to ourselves, exactly what in the hell happened to a Duke, Virginia, Maryland, Wisconsin, Kansas, Texas, Oregon, you see where I’m going with this. Enjoy the madness.