The Season of March Madness is Upon Us

March is always looked upon with great elation spring break, the beginning of beautiful weather, and the initial sights of budding flowers. However, if you are a college basketball fan, you know exactly what causes most of this unbearable anticipation — March Madness. Perhaps the most exhilarating, awe-inspiring athletics event of the year, March Madness is annually riddled with unbelievable stories, buzzer-beaters, and down to the wire action.
This year’s tournament should be no different. With 13 days left until selection Sunday, (in which the tournament bracket is announced) there is still a fair amount of speculation and surmising to be done over who is going to take the the championship title. While it is hard to predict who’s going to come away victorious, it isn’t hard to see who’s headed into the tournament as favorites. Currently, all four number one seeds seem to be locked into place (barring any upsets in their respective conference playoffs) with the Villanova Wildcats as the defending champs at the top of the East, the North Carolina Tar Heels at the top of the South, Gonzaga Bulldogs at the top of the West, and finally the Kansas Jayhawks at the top of the Midwest.
While these teams seem to be locked into their respective slots in the bracket, there are still numerous teams who are precariously “on the bubble”, or in other words, on the cusp of getting into the tournament. First, we have the Syracuse Orange, one of the more reputable programs in Division I college basketball history. With Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim commanding the helm coupled with the fact that just a year ago the Orange were steamrolling their way to a final four appearance, it seems unimaginable to picture this year’s tournament without them. Regular season conference wins over Duke, Virginia and Florida State surely help their case, but it might take two more wins, the first being against Georgia Tech to finish up their regular season and the second coming from their first round matchup in the ACC tournament, to solidify their spot in the tournament.
In addition to the Orange, the Seton Hall Pirates, last year’s Big East champions, are also on the bubble. While junior guard Khadeen Carrington, averaging just under 17.5 points per game, and junior forward Angel Delgado, averaging 15.5 points per game and 13 rebounds per game, have taken the torch from Isaiah Whitehead (last year’s star now playing in the NBA), their efforts might not be enough to stamp their ticket to the Madness. The Pirates still need to prove their worth. Luckily, they have a perfect opportunity to do so against conference foe Butler this coming Saturday.
Finally, we have the Wake Forest Demon Deacons who are hungry for an appearance in the Big Dance after missing out the last seven years. Lead by sophomore John Collins, a potential first round pick come this year’s NBA draft, the Demon Deacons have a perfect chance to earn their right for a spot against Louisville this weekend.
Analyzing teams, whether they’ve locked up their spot in the tournament or not, is undoubtedly fun. Perhaps what’s more fun, though, is looking at individual players. This year’s talent pool is just as interesting as any previous years, headlined by a talented group of freshmen including Markelle Fultz of Washington University, Lonzo Ball of UCLA, and Josh Jackson of Kentucky, the projected first, second, and third picks of this years NBA draft, respectively. Past these three exhilarating first years, there’s still sharpshooting sophomore Luke Kennard representing the Duke Blue Devils, junior forward Dillon Brooks of the Oregon Ducks, and junior guard Justin Jackson of the North Carolina Tar Heels.
While speculation and statistics are integral components for receiving the true March Madness experience, perhaps the most important component is simply just turning on the tv, kicking back, and watching some of the best amateur basketball players in the world fight tooth and nail for something they’ve worked and dreamt about since they were little kids. However, all we can for now is wait for the first game.

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