Yes ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time of year again. The middle of March has come, and anyone who knows anything about sports knows that it is almost time to print off that blank bracket and start weaving your way through the games.
You have to look at the number one seeds, the cinderellas, and the team that got hot during the conference tournament to win it. Everybody’s inner-bracketologist knows all the factors that go into selecting the perfect bracket.
But this year has been a year unlike any in college basketball. With countless upsets, buzzer beaters, and a court storm virtually every day, even true bracketologists like ESPN’s Joe Lunardi have no idea what is going to happen this tournament. So good luck to the rest of us?
There are many factors that go into the notion that this will be the hardest bracket to fill out in recent memory. I am going to dive into the two that I think are the most important.
The main reason why this bracket is going to be virtually impossible to fill out is because of the fact that there are no really dependable teams in college basketball this year. By this I am stating the fact that there is no great team out there that you can look at week in and week out and say that they are going to win, or maybe play well and come up just short against a tough opponent on the road.
There is one thing that all these teams lack: Consistency. The top teams in the country this year will look great one weekend, then play a sub-par team on the road and simply not show up. Kansas perfected this when they traveled to TCU and decided they did not feel like playing that day, and promptly got blown out of the gym by one of the worst teams in major college basketball. Michigan one-upped them when they went to Happy Valley and basically handed Penn State their first Big Ten win.
The two most consistent teams this year have been Duke and Indiana. Duke has been without one of their top players all year, but even with Ryan Kelly back in the lineup, you cannot say that you fully stand behind them to win a tough game in a hostile environment. Likewise with Indiana. They have looked like the best team in the country at times, and at other times they are giving wide open layups to win the game at the buzzer to Tyler Griffey of Illinois.
Moving on, the mid major team is not a walk in the park anymore for the big boys of college basketball. You know who is looking down at everyone from the top of the standings right now? Gonzaga. This is not Duke, North Carolina, Florida, or Kansas. This is a team from the West Coast Conference who has destroyed just about everyone in its path.
Everyone knows about Gonzaga, but I am going to mention a few mid majors that no big school wants to play come the tournament.
Just ask Miami about Florida Gulf Coast. The Eagles beat the Hurricanes 63-51 in the beginning of the season, and were in control of the game throughout.
Does any team want to play Doug McDermott and the Creighton Bluejays? McDermott is a national player of the year candidate, and is capable any game of having an outing where he puts up thirty points with ten boards.
What about Saint Mary’s? This team often gets overlooked because of the dominance by Gonzaga year in and year out, but this is a team that has quietly put together a great season as well led by senior Mathew Dellavedova.
Finally this begs the question; is this the year that a sixteen seed finally beats a number one? I am just going to say this, it is highly unlikely given the talent difference and the past history, but if there was going to be a year where this happened, it will be this year.
This seems like it is going to be the hardest bracket I have ever filled out, along with many other people. My gut feeling is that a team is going to get hot during their conference tournament such as Connecticut did a couple years ago, and win the whole thing. But nobody has any really good answer. All I can say is good luck to everyone, because you are going to need it.