March is easily one of the most famed months of the entire year in the world of sports. It marks the beginning of free agency in the NFL, the start of spring training for baseball, the return of the MLS and stretch runs for both the NBA and NHL as the playoffs approach. However, there is the legendary event that has been going strong for decades. The NCAA Tournament, bringing along with it what the United States calls March Madness.
Besides being incredibly exciting and keeping fans on the edge of their seat for about 2 straight weeks, the tournament is one of the most ingenious inventions in all of sports. It creates a do or die match up for the top 68 teams in the country in a winner takes all tournament. It has spawned the craziness over brackets, inspired many an office pool and redefined the word cinderella.
Back to the excitement aspect though, this year’s tournament seems poised to be entertaining. Many consider the Mid-West region of this year’s bracket to be stacked with a host of top teams. Some of the big names include Big 10 powerhouse Michigan, reigning AAC Champion Louisville, the undefeated Wichita State, the ACC battle tested Duke Blue Devils, and the freshmen loaded Kentucky Wildcats. It is truly anyone’s guess as to who will make it out of the the Midwest and play in the Final Four. If I had to choose one team though that I think will pull off the run, it would be Louisville. This is a team with incredible coaching, good depth and a scoring machine in Russ Smith. The erratic senior has bailed out Louisville again and again in big games this year. If he can stay hot, Louisville has got a shot at the title.
Staying with the theme of the Midwest, I want to address what I have heard a lot of fans complaining about recently. Many people feel that Wichita State was not given a fair shake (nor was anyone else in that region) for having such a stacked line of games. Wichita is deserving of their #1 seed but it seems that the selectors were not very fond of the idea of them going very far. Assuming they win in the first round, Wichita would then have to face either Kansas State or Kentucky, two teams capable of beating anyone if they are running on all cylinders. Next would follow a game with likely red hot Louisville or the defensive fortress of Saint Louis. A win there would pit them against a highly talented Michigan team and it simply seems that Wichita has no chance of making the Final Four. Even if they did, it begs the question of whether they would have enough gas left in the tank to even compete against another Final Four team. I personally think that the selectors made a mistake with this region, giving Wichita, the only undefeated team in the college game, the toughest road to Orlando.