Only a few weeks away until March 1st… so you all know what that means: MARCH MADNESS IS UPON US! One of the most exciting sports weekends of the year. A weekend that starts on Thursday and goes until Sunday. The first weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament. Last year, they even extended the first weekend to a plus 4 play in round to make it a field of 68 teams. One of those play in teams, VCU, made it all the way to the Final 4! So every game needs to be observed and shown appreciation. If you’re into that sort of thing.
So I’m here to write about some projections. I know we are still about a month away from the tournament actually starting, but might as well try to project the field. I am not going to pretend like I know everything about college hoops, or that I know all 68 teams that will make it. I won’t even try to predict that. I will just give you might thoughts on some of the seeds and some of the teams to look out for this year. All of this is opinion of course, so feel free to chime in and disagree or agree with me. Don’t take what I say with you to Vegas.
The #1 seeds:
Right now, my number 1 seeds are: Kentucky, Syracuse, Missouri, and Duke.
This could obviously change in the next few weeks. I think Kansas could slip past either Mizzou or Duke depending on how they finish the season. If Kansas wins out, I would expect them to get a #1 seed. That would mean a win over Missouri, and possibly 2 wins over Mizzou if they meet again in the Big 12 tourney. There is also a possibility Missouri and Kansas both steal #1 seeds, depending on how Duke finishes their season. Michigan State, Ohio State and North Carolina could sneak in there, but not likely.
The #2 seeds: Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan State, Ohio State.
As I said before, all of these teams have a chance to jump into a #1 seed role, but Kansas is most likely of them all with game(s) against Missouri coming up.
The # 3 seeds: Baylor, Georgetown, Florida, Murray State.
All of these teams are solid, but are lacking the quality wins. They have the talent to make a push in the tourney. I haven’t seen Murray State with a projection this high, but they only have 1 loss and are deserving up to this point.
The #4 seeds: Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Wichita State.
The Big 10 will get all of their teams in separate regions if these seeds play out. Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin all have quality wins, but also have some silly losses as well. Wichita State is putting together a very nice season. Blowout wins over UNLV at home, and on the road against Creighton and Davidson show this team has some spunk in them.
The #5 seeds: UNLV, Marquette, San Diego State, Louisville.
All of these teams have quality wins as well, but these teams have all lost to the “elites” as well. The biggest win in this group is UNLV over UNC early in the season. I think UNC wins a re-match between those teams if they meet again in the tourney this year.
The #6 seeds: Florida State, New Mexico, Notre Dame, Gonzaga.
Florida State has a couple of marquee victories against UNC and Duke. Notre Dame is the only team to beat Syracuse all year. These are teams you can’t sleep on come tourney time.
That is about as far as I will go for seeding guesses. After that we get into the mid-majors and that is when I would need some help from my friend Nathan Beck who follows those mid-majors closer than anyone I know. Of course you’ll get some bigger teams that get in late like Kansas State, who got a signature road win today over Baylor. It’s hard to say the exact place they will fall. Here are a few teams I think you should look out for in the tournament this year:
Wichita State: They are a team that can run or they can slow it down. They can play tough defense. They can play with anyone in the country. This makes them a dangerous tourney team. Look out for them come March!
Florida State: Ever since they blew North Carolina out of the water, they’ve been a team i’ve been looking out for. If they can do that to North Carolina, they have the ability to be streaky and make a run through the tourney. At the same time, a team like that could get bounced early. It will depend on what team shows up come tourney time, but I think they will be a lower seed to look out for in March.
Notre Dame: Ever since they beat Syracuse, they have been on a roll. They haven’t lost a game in over a month. When a team gets hot, they can go far in the tourney. Just look at what UCONN did last year. They got hot at the end of the season, won the Big East tourney, and went on to win the National Championship. Notre Dame could be a lower seeded team from the Big East to look out for this year in March.
Temple: Temple is a team that isn’t in my top 6 seeds, but they are a team that could be dangerous out of the A10 conference. They are another team who haven’t tasted a loss in over a month. When you’re hot, you’re hot. They can ride a hot hand into the tourney and make some noise.
Iowa State: The Cyclones have a tough stretch the last couple weeks of the regular season. They play at Kansas State and Missouri and get Baylor at home. It will be very interesting to see how this team closes the season out. Their signature victory is at home against Kansas, but it seems like they have a tough time playing outside of Ames, Iowa. If they can get a couple of upsets down the stretch, look for them to gain some confidence going into the tournament.
Washington: They were my team to look out for last year and they made it to the sweet 16. This year, they are a very young team, but seem to be gelling as the season has progressed. A couple of close early losses on the road to Marquette and Duke showed me that this team could be competitive if they got better as the season went along, and they have shown they can compete. Like Florida State, this could be a streaky team that could make some noise, but could also be bounced early due to the youth on the team.
Keep an eye out for those teams come March Madness. I can’t wait to see how everything falls into place over the next couple of weeks. It’s always an exciting time of the year. As Dicky V would say: “IT’S MARCH MADNESS BABY!”