March Madness 2013: Breaking Down the Big Dance
Dweebos, geeks, hipsters, foodies, motorheads and burnouts take notice: March Madness is here, and I know you all care. Parity in college basketball has helped small schools play significant roles come NCAA tournament time. Athletes at blue blood programs are declaring for the NBA draft earlier than ever, giving mid-major programs the opportunity to develop quality players that challenge big name schools with unsexy, yet seasoned, team-oriented recruits. That’s right smart kids, your schools are in the mix this year. Private schools, Jesuit universities, and mid-majors, and even an Ivy League school are in the Big Dance.
Let’s break down some of the NCAA tournament’s impact players, possible upsets and exciting potential match ups.
Top Overall Seed: No. 1 Louisville
Don’t Sleep On: No. 4 Saint Louis
Potential Upset: No. 10 Cincinnati over No. 7 Creighton
Creighton big man Doug McDermott is a versatile scorer who can reel off 30-plus points if he’s feeling it. But Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright can score too, and their team’s solid defense and rebounding should help them prevail.
Possible Elite Eight Match Up: No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 2 Duke
Phenomenal guard play for Louisville and high-efficiency scoring for Duke will help them advance to the Midwest championship game. Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng can hold his own with Duke’s Mason Plumlee, but do the Cardinals have an answer for Ryan Kelly stretching the floor? Louisville is just tougher, expect them to advance.
Top Overall Seed: No. 1 Kansas
Don’t Sleep On: No. 5 VCU
Potential Upset: No. 11 Minnesota over No. 6 UCLA
With UCLA’s Jordan Adams out for the season with an injury, UCLA’s young core of players have lost their glue guy. Shabazz Muhammad will get his shots and score a respectable amount of points for UCLA, but point-forward Kyle Anderson and the Wear twins have looked frazzled during big games this season. Again, big games are won with defense and controlling the glass, so Minnesota’s toughness and rebounding will help them advance.
Possible Elite Eight Match Up: No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 3 Florida
Both teams can score in bunches and play stifling defense. This will be a high octane game with Kansas center Jeff Withey trying to shut down Florida’s beast down low, Patric Young. This game will come down to guard play. Kansas freshman phenom Ben McLemore helps the ‘Hawks advance.
Top Overall Seed: No. 1 Indiana
Don’t Sleep On: No. 6 Butler
Potential Upset: No. 14 Davidson over No. 3 Marquette
Davidson’s veteran players and efficient offense will be no match for a Marquette team that’s floundered at times this season. If the Wildcats can keep Marquette’s Davante Gardner and Chris Otule out of the paint, they will advance.
Possible Elite Eight Match Up: No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 2 Miami
Two of the best teams this season will meet for the East championship. It’ll come down to how Miami’s Kenny Kadji handles Indiana’s Cody Zeller. Although the Hurricanes have dynamic point guard Shane Larkin, I believe Hoosier guard Victor Oladipo will be too much. Indiana advances.
Top Overall Seed: No. 1 Gonzaga
Don’t Sleep On: No. 10 Iowa State
Potential Upset: No. 11 Belmont over No. 6 Arizona
Three point shooting is the great equalizer in NCAA tournament basketball. Belmont shoots the three well, and lead the nation in two-point field goal percentage. With Arizona’s subpar three point defense, the Belmont Bruins will roll on.
Possible Elite Eight Match Up: No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 10 Iowa State
Kelly Olynk and Gonzaga will grind their way to the West championship game and meet an Iowa State team that rode an NBA style offensive system to the round of 8. Iowa State relies heavily on the three, and if they aren’t falling, I expect Gonzaga will muscle their way to the Final Four.
Meaningless Final Four Prediction:
No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 1 Indiana
No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 1 Gonzaga
Completely Accurate National Championship Prediction:
No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 1 Kansas
National Champion: Louisville
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Photo Courtesy of SportsIllustrated.com