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The year in college basketball has been one of upsets and parody with five different teams holding the No. 1 ranking at some point throughout the year. With so many surprises during the regular season the postseason should be no different.
March Madness is always a time for upsets and underdogs and this year might be the most unpredictable in recent memory. Any team in the tournament has a chance to win this year, and as many as 16 have a chance to win it all. And there are always Cinderellas that we can’t account for in that number.
Louisville has to start as the favorite as they got the No. 1 overall seed after winning the Big East conference tournament in comeback fashion.
They do have the toughest region playing in the Midwest against teams like Duke and Michigan State. While Louisville is the favorite at the moment, Duke has been ranked No. 1 this year and fell off after Ryan Kelly got hurt. But he is back for the tournament making the Blue Devils a serious contender.
Michigan State has Coach Tom Izzo who has shown that he can make something out of nothing come tournament time.
In the south region Kansas secured the No. 1 seed while Georgetown, Florida and Michigan are all contenders to make it to the Final Four. The Jayhawks and the Hoyas have potential player-of-the-year candidates in Ben McLemore and Otto Porter.
Michigan has been ranked No. 1 this year after starting 16-0. They fell off by the end of the year, but are a definite threat to make a long run in this tournament. The Gators are led by three superb seniors and are ranked top five in defensive scoring. They could ride that defense to a Final Four appearance.
In the west region Gonzaga claimed the top seed as they finished the season ranked No. 1. This is considered the easiest region of the four with Ohio State and New Mexico being contenders.
Gonzaga and New Mexico are both from non—power conferences making it hard to judge how good they really are. We know that their records are superb and they have talent, but will it translate when they have to go against the best in the country?
Wisconsin and Kansas State are sleeper picks to watch out for in this region. Wisconsin isn’t flashy but they play a defensive-minded brand of basketball, making them a tough opponent for anyone.
With Gonzaga getting the No. 1 seed in the region they are the favorite, but this region is up for grabs. Anyone of the teams has a shot at making the final four.
In the final region, the East, the pre-season favorite Indiana claimed the No. 1 seed and were ranked No. 1 longer than any other team in the country at nine non—consecutive weeks over the course of the season.
Miami looks to be the only team with a serious shot at beating the Hoosiers while teams like Marquette, Syracuse and Butler could also make some noise. The Hurricanes were ranked No. 1 during the year and have been the surprise team of the season. They have been better than anyone expected but could have experience issues as only two players on the team have ever been to March Madness and neither played.
The other teams have had good seasons and have the potential to make a deep run and be a nice come out of nowhere team.
In the first round, upsets always happen. The dark horses to watch out for this year are Oregon, Cal, and Minnesota. Cal and Oregon are both 12 seeds playing against No. 5 seeds but have the potential to make deep runs in the tournament.
Oregon won the Pac-12 tournament, after being ranking in the top 25 most of the year and Cal was the No. 2 seed in the Pac-12 tournament, with Pac-12 player of the year Allen Crabbe. Cal will also be playing its first game in nearby San Jose, CA. which is nearly a home game for them.
Minnesota has been hot and cold this season, winning games over Indian and Michigan State but being blown out by Duke. The Golden Gophers are playing a banged up UCLA team who is playing without Jordan Adams for the tournament. That is a big blow to the Bruins chances and opens the door for the Gophers to get a big win.
It should be an interesting March as many different teams have the potential to make runs deep into the tournament. With so much parody, predicting what is going to happen is difficult. They don’t call it Madness for nothing.
Contact CU Independent Sports Editor Scott Annis at Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org