March Madness: the ‘hots’ and ‘nots’ of the first round
By RYAN BRAUCH
With March Madness quickly approaching, you are probably stressing about which teams will pull off an amazing upset to advance to the next round. This tournament is unpredictable, to say the least. March Madness may be one of the most exhilarating sporting events worldwide, as the top 68 teams in the country square off in games where no one is safe and winner takes all.
Every year there are always a handful of bracket busters that completely destroy half of America’s brackets. That is why the odds of completing a perfect bracket are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. There is no way to fully avoid bracket busters, but getting a background of the teams is always the first step. Here is some analysis which teams are hot, which teams are not and which teams are poised to make a run in the Big Dance.
Gonzaga Bulldogs (1) Avoid:
Yes, Gonzaga is one of the elite 1-seed teams, that doesn’t make them a lock for the Final Four. Each year there is usually just one or two 1-seeded team in the semi-finals. The last time more than one 1-seed made it was 2015, where three teams made it, which was rare. The Bulldogs only lost one game this season, as they collapsed during a late season matchup with BYU, which showed us that the Zags struggle when faced with adversity. Gonzaga’s lack of true competitors on their regular season schedule, mixed with a rough division, calls for an early exit for this 1-seed. The Sweet Sixteen may be as far as Gonzaga gets in this tournament.
Iowa State (5) Take:
Although the Cyclones are in the dreaded 5-12 matchup with Nevada, they seem to be in position to at least make a run for the Sweet Sixteen. These matchups are the most equally balanced games in the field, as 5-seeds have gone 8-8 against 12 seeds in the last four seasons. Iowa State is loaded with experienced seniors who have played in the tournament competitively for the past few years. Both of these teams have high-powered offenses, but if the Cyclones can make an impact on the glass, their experience should pay off and propel them to the next round.
Creighton Blue Jays (6) Avoid:
As Creighton prepares to take on Rhode Island in the first round, you have to be a little hesitant sending the Blue Jays to the Round of 32. Over the past three years, 6-seeds have fallen six times in the last nine games that they were favored in. After starting guard Maurice Watson went down with an ACL injury in late January, the team has been a little shaky. With 11-seeds dominating over recent years and Watson out with injury, I would be cautious before sending the Blue Jays onward.
Duke Blue Devils (2) Take:
Duke has been highly favored in this year’s tournament, as they became the first 5-seed to ever win the ACC tournament, which was no easy feat. Coach K’s Blue Devils have been scorching hot over the past few games, leaning heavily on sophomore guard Luke Kennard and freshman Jayson Tatum. For a Duke team that has fluctuated all year long, they seem to have finally gotten all the pieces to fall into place, with no time to spare. If their hot streak continues, the Blue Devils might make easy work on the East region.
Dayton Flyers (7) Avoid:
The Flyers have an extremely talented and experienced squad, as the team has made the tournament rather frequently over the past few years. They have thrived in the early rounds, causing some huge upsets. Unfortunately for Dayton, they will be facing up with the highly underrated Wichita State team. Like Dayton, Wichita State is also a smaller school that has made a big name for itself recently in March. Wichita State also closely resembles Gonzaga, as both teams come from a smaller conference and lack impressive wins against big name programs. If the Shockers get their offense running early, Dayton may be in for more than they can handle.
Michigan Wolverines (7) Take:
This Michigan team is looking invincible lately, taking the Big 10 tournament by storm following a peculiar plane crash. In the first round, the Wolverines line up against Oklahoma State and their energetic offense. The Cowboys’ offense is phenomenal, but their defensive effort is lackluster. If Michigan can keep up with OSU’s fast paced offense and can get a few stops on the defensive end, then the Wolverines may be looking to make a run. Likely facing Louisville in the second round will show Michigan some adversity, but it wouldn’t be impossible for the Wolverines to come out on top.