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March Madness is finally back and the NCAA Tournament is looking spicy. You’re most likely filling out a bracket while you read this. Good luck with your office pool, my bracket will certainly be busted after the first day.
It’s that time of year where we are trying to find out what channel number is TruTV, while frantically placing some bets and making last-second travel plans.
There’s nothing like watching March Madness in person. OutKick will be in Birmingham and Greensboro for the first two rounds. Join us by getting your own seats through StubHub, the easiest place to buy/sell tickets to all the biggest games.
In other words, this week is heaven for basketball fans.
Who Puts On The Cinderella Slipper This Time?
• College of Charleston is back in the tournament as a No. 13 seed, with a first-round matchup with San Diego State. I sure love the town of Charleston, and I also love the Cougars’ record of 31-3, with a loss to North Carolina. I don’t care what conference you play in: winning that many games is tough. Also worth noting? Charleston was ranked 18th this season at one point.
Charleston’s first-round matchup with San Diego State is a prime spot for an upset, considering Charleston’s offense was ranked in the top-15 in scoring. If guard Dalton Bolon can score over 20 points, look out.
• It wouldn’t be March Madness without Rick Pitino, who might be making his last appearance as head coach of Iona. The Gaels have won 14-straight games and their first-round matchup against No. 4 UConn could be the perfect spot for Pitino to make some noise.
• We can’t forget Oral Roberts, who will open against No. 5 Duke in Orlando. If there is any team in the country that fans would love to see lose in its opening game, that would certainly be the hated Blue Devils. If Oral Roberts can get hot behind guard Max Abmas, then maybe we see an upset. But Duke is currently on fire after winning the ACC Tournament over Virginia.
Most Heated NCAA Environment Will Be In Birmingham
So the NCAA decided to put Alabama and Auburn in Birmingham to open the tournament, along with Houston. If you thought the thrilling overtime game in Tuscaloosa between Nate Oats and Bruce Pearl was fun, wait till both fan bases get together inside Legacy Arena this week. Even though they won’t play each other, the fact that Auburn fans will have a chance to make life miserable for this Alabama basketball team should be noted.
I can already see a few fights breaking out between the two hatred-filled fan bases, even without the teams squaring off on the court. Somebody is going to say something about Brandon Miller and the local Birmingham police will have to break up a fight at the nacho stand. I don’t think Houston or Iowa fans truly know what their walking into, while Maryland and West Virginia fans will certainly add to the craziness inside the arena.
Which No. 1 Seed Is Knocked Out Of NCAA Tournament First?
This is always tough to pick, with a No.1 seed raising the trophy the past five years straight and winning 12 of the last 15 years. I do think there is room for a lower seed to cause some chaos.
The top-seeded team I could see going down first is Purdue, winners of the Big Ten tourney. The Boilermakers are the No. 1 seed in the East region, but they were dealt a tough draw in the second round, playing either Memphis or Florida Atlantic. If Purdue is going to lose on the opening weekend, it’s going to come at the hands of Memphis, who are playing really strong basketball right now under Penny Hardaway.
Other than Purdue, the only other team I could see getting knocked out in the first weekend would be Houston. Trust me, I know the Cougars are good, but if Marcus Sasser cannot play in the opening round, a potential second round game with Auburn could be bring the first point of chaos. We don’t know the status of Houston’s star point guard right now, which could make for a tough game against a fast Auburn team, if the Tigers defeat Iowa. Also, this will undoubtedly be a home game for Auburn, if they win against the Hawkeyes.
Which SEC Teams Will Make A Run To Second Weekend?
First off, Texas A&M got absolutely shafted by the committee putting them as a No. 7 seed. How in the world do you make a team that finished second in the SEC a seven? The NCAA must still be agitated by comments made by Buzz Williams last season after not getting in. Oh, and they sent the Aggies to Des Moines to open the tournament against a very good Penn State team.
If I were AD Ross Bjork, I’d be just as mad at the NCAA as he was for the officiating in the SEC tournament final.
I hope we get the second-round game between Texas A&M and Texas, with the Aggies moving on to the Sweet 16. Somebody make sure Buzz Williams stays hydrated during these games in Iowa.
• While Kentucky is damaged at the moment, with Cason Wallace playing hurt and Sahvir Wheeler batting back from injury, the Cats have a path to the Sweet 16, but I don’t think the Wildcats make it. I don’t trust Kentucky right now, so I’m going with Providence.
• I LOVE what the Arkansas Razorbacks have in front of them if they can beat Illinois. The 8th-seeded Razorbacks could pull off the upset of Kansas in the second round, if Nick Smith and Ricky Council IV can get into a rhythm. Eric Musselman might have a shady assistant coach who likes to swipe at reporter’s phones, but he also has a team that can beat you up and down the court.
• As for No. 4 Tennessee, its first round game against No. 13 Louisiana should not be taken lightly by the fans in orange. The Vols will be without Zakai Zeigler, meaning Santiago Vescovi and Josiah-Jordan James will be needed on the perimeter. Julian Phillips and Tyreke Key need a good game in the paint. If the Vols can handle business on Thursday night, it will set up an intriguing matchup with Duke, which is playing fantastic.
There you have it, a look at some of the crazier storylines heading into the start of the NCAA Tournament. As you fill out your 20th bracket this afternoon, don’t forget to factor in St. Patricks Day on Friday, if you’re trying to place a bet. Make sure to get your picks in before filling your body with green beer.
Enjoy the week!
Continue following @TreyWallace_ for coverage of the NCAA Tournament, as he heads to the Greensboro regional.
One CommentLeave a Reply
Great article Trey! You forgot part of the country, but you stuck to what you know, and it was well written and informative.
I know the PAC12 is weak overall, but very top heavy. UCLA-Arizona in the final…Gonna be a barn burner…
Good luck on your brackets everyone! Go Bruins!!!