Good news everyone…we are only eight weeks away from every college basketball fan’s second Christmas…Selection Sunday. As a sports and college basketball fan, Selection Sunday and the NCAA Tournament is my favorite time of the year. That being said, I absolutely can’t wait for the NCAA Tournament. It is always great, what NCAA Tournament hasn’t been exciting? In addition to the tournament always being amazing, this year’s tournament has the potential to be a great one. I have put together five reasons why the 2013 NCAA Tournament could (and should) be a great one.
5. The potential of Kentucky and North Carolina
Now, these teams are definitely not locks for the tournament and still have a lot of work to do in order to convince the selection committee that they are worthy of being in the tournament. If these teams do end up making the tournament, I believe that every single team and fans of teams will be scared to go against Kentucky or North Carolina. According to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, as of January 29, Lunardi has North Carolina as a 9 seed. Therefore, if they can win their game against an 8 seed (which would be Notre Dame right now according to Lunardi) they would be playing a 1 seed. If my favorite team was that 1 seed, I would not feel comfortable with my favorite team playing UNC. I know they have struggled this year but they have the talent and a great coach which is a the ideal recipe to upset a team or two in the tournament. Kentucky is the exact same way. They have a coach who won the National Championship last year, and some of the best unexperienced players in the country. Lunardi currently has Kentucky has a 10 seed, which would have them going up against a 7 seed. If they can pull of the upset, Kentucky would then be playing against a 2 seed (Arizona, according to Lunardi). Again, if I was an Arizona fan I would be worried about this matchup. Kentucky (even more so than North Carolina) has the talent to make a run in the tournament. If UK and UNC finish their season well and do make the tournament, look out.
4. Mid-majors making a Final Four run
Two weekends ago ESPN College Gameday was at the Butler/Gonzaga game at Butler. Butler ended up winning on a buzzer beater it what turned out to be a great game. I think this game showcased two things. For one, Butler and Gonzaga are both really good teams and should not be taken lightly (ask Indiana, who couldn’t beat Butler). The second thing this game showed was that some mid-major teams this year are very good and could benefit from there not being one great team in college basketball this year. The teams I’m talking about are the two I mentioned already (Butler and Gonzaga) along with Wichita State, Creighton, San Diego State and VCU. I am not saying I think these teams will win the National Championship but I do think that these teams have a legitimate shot at making a run to the Final Four. Depending on how the bracket shapes up, if any of these teams can get some favorable matchups, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of these teams in Atlanta due to the fact that there is truly not any great teams this year and there will be a lot of upsets. This will open up the bracket for other teams.
3. No great team, many good teams
Around this time last year I think it was clear that Kentucky was the best team in the country. Kentucky ended up winning the National Championship, which did not come as a surprise. This year, I think everyone could agree that there is no great team. In my opinion, there are eight good teams that have a shot to cut down the nets. Those teams are: Michigan, Kansas, Indiana, Duke, Florida, Gonzaga, Syracuse and Miami (yes, Miami. They beat Duke by about 50 and then did the same thing to Florida State, other than bad losses to Indiana State and Florida Gulf Coast early in the year they have a great resume). However, the “catch” to those eight teams is every single one of them has a weakness that can expose them in the tournament. Michigan struggles inside, Kansas can’t score at times, Indiana’s Cody Zeller seems to go missing at times, Duke has injuries, Florida can be inconsistent, Gonzaga doesn’t have a go to scorer, Syracuse’s shot selection and field goal percentage is poor and Miami needs to prove they can continue to win like this. I truly think any of these eight teams can make a run to the Final Four and I can also see these same teams losing in the first weekend.
2. Great players on lower seeded teams
When March Madness arrives, pay attention to these names: Shabazz Muhammed, Doug McDermott, Jahii Carson, Matthew Dellavedova and Anthony Bennent. Most college basketball fans have heard of Muhammed and McDermott. Muhammed leads UCLA in scoring and will be a top 5 pick in this year’s NBA Draft. McDermott, from Creighton, will be a first team All-America and possibly the National Player of the Year. These two player have the capability of putting their team on their back and carrying them to a few wins. In addition, these two players always give their team a chance to win because they will usually be the best player on the floor. Carson, Dellavedova and Bennent aren’t as well known. Carson is Arizona State’s starting point guard, averaging 17.3 points per game. Carson has played all 40 minutes in a game for the Sun Devils multiple times this year as well. He has the potential to go off for 30 every game. Carson gives Arizona State the explosive player they need to pull off an upset or two. Dellavedova plays for St. Mary’s in the West Coast Conference. He has scored over 30 points three different times this year. Two weeks ago he hit an incredible buzzer-beater to knock off conference rival BYU. Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-p-Tb29zAzQ. Enough said. Anthony Bennent is a freshman forward leading his team, UNLV, in points per game as well as rebounds per game. Bennent has been talked about as potentially winning the Freshmen of the Year award, above players like Ben McLemore and Shabazz Muhammed. Bennent can score at will as long as he is aggresive. He has had some games where he has not gotten enough shots up as he should. Look out for UNLV as long as Bennent is scoring like he should.
1. Many upsets and buzzer beaters have already taken place
Upsets: Butler over Indiana, Temple over Syracuse, Kansas State over Florida, Villanova over Syracuse and Louisville, the upsets have been everywhere.
Buzzer Beaters (or last second shots): Butler’s Roosevelt Jones beating Gonzaga, St. Marys’ Matthew Delladedova beating BYU, Kansas’ Ben McLemore last second three to tie the game against Iowa State and Arizona’s Mark Lyons’ last second shot to take the lead in the final seconds against Florida.
This year’s tournament has all the potential in the world to be one of the best. Upsets could happen all over the place and expect many close games and hopefully some buzzer beaters. I can’t wait. Only 47 days until Selection Sunday.
Thanks for reading guys. Feel free to comment and hit me up on twitter @tivo91