The biggest day for College Basketball, selection Sunday, is right around the corner. That means one thing, that the greatest sporting event in the United States, March, Madness, is nearing closer and closer. Time to start doing research for those pesky brackets that seem impossible to predict. Is there anything else that is equally frustrating and enjoyable, than March Madness brackets? I would say no but that is the reason people love March Madness so much, it’s gambling on its biggest stage. Now is the time to start deciding, which teams are the cinderellas, which teams are the true title contenders and which teams are most likely to be upset. I’m not going to give you all my cinderellas, that would be just stupid, but let me point out some teams to pay close attention to. These teams aren’t top or low seeds but they are those in-between-seed teams that can be dangerous in the tournament.
North Carolina (projected seed: 3)
Note: projected seeds were based off of ESPN and CBS Sports bracketology
The Tarheels are an obvious name since UNC practically makes every March Madness tournament but they have been somewhat under the radar this year. After a slow 4-3 start in which they lost to Minnesota, Vanderbilt and Illinois, the Tarheels have taken care of business with 20 wins as opposed to 3 losses. Even more impressive is that after losing to Georgia Tech, the Tarheels have gone 12-1 over they’re last thirteen games (only loss was at Duke). Translation: UNC is peaking at the right time, especially after a thoroughly impressive victory over Duke to clinch the ACC regular season title. The size of Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Harrison Barnes to go along with the solid guard play of Dexter Strickland and Kendall Marshall make UNC a well-rounded and tough opponent. Although they have a nice, well-rounded roster, the key basketball component that they do well is rebound, UNC is number one in the nation in that category. Simply, there is a lot to like about North Carolina, so much so that they deserve to get a long look for one of the spots in the final four.
St.John’s (projected seed: 4)
Steve Lavin’s Red Storm has been playing the role of underestimated Giant killer all season long. With wins over other tournament teams Notre Dame, West Virginia, Duke, Pittsburgh, Villanova and Connecticut, St. John’s seems poised for a nice tournament run. No one predicted St. John’s to have the type of season they have enjoyed, so why can’t they shock everyone again? The Big East is expected to have 11 teams in the NCAA tournament; St.John’s has beaten 8 of them. Senior Dwight Hardy is the barometer of the team, when he struggles to score; they typically lose but when he has it going, watch out. Hardy leads a team that starts five seniors including Justin Brownlee and D.J. Kennedy; the teams top rebounders and second and third scoring options. The senior leadership is always an added bonus come tournament time and with even more experience on the bench, St. John’s has an excess of experience. The Big East tournament will be a test for them, if they play well, they will have momentum going into March Madness, if they falter, they’re March Madness stay could only be a round or two.
Arizona (projected seed: 5-7)
The Wildcats have quietly enjoyed a very good season, going 25-6 on their way to a Pac-10 regular season title. So why didn’t they get any love? The Pac-10 was down this year and I mean waaaay down according to Pac-10 standards. Only two other teams are expected to get into the NCAA tournament, Washington and UCLA. Arizona is historically a dangerous tournament team, so they should never be taken lightly. Player of the year candidate Derrick Williams, who averages 18.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, leads this year’s team. If there is one player besides Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker who can carry his team to a few victories, it’s Williams; he’s simply been sensational this season. Lamont Jones and Kyle Fogg provide the Wildcats with good guard play, something that is essential for success in the Dance. Arizona has the formula for March Madness success (a dominant scorer + good guard play) but they could run into some difficuly if they draw a team with good size. If Arizona can avoid teams with good play down low, they can do some serious damage in the tournament; no matter what seed they are awarded.
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