Let the Madness Begin
Let’s cut the crap and get right into the thick of it. Gonzaga is going to win the national championship. No team besides West Virginia has come closer than 10 points. The question is simply as Larry Bird put it “Who’s coming in second?”
Simply put, they have the best player in the nation. Cade Cunningham has been red hot and is going to carry the Cowboys to the final four. Making it to the championship or not is dependent on the supporting cast. They may get tripped up by Loyola-Chicago, but if Cade is who we really think he is, they should have no problem making a deep run.
The Cougars arguably have their best team since Hakeem Olajuwon in the 80’s. Led by 6’5” junior Quentin Grimes who averages 18 ppg and 6 rpg. Look for Grimes to have a big tournament and lead his team to the final four. With the 1-seed in their region knocked out, the path is looking a little clearer for Grimes and his Houston team.
The hottest team in the nation; with more scoring options than a thanksgiving dinner. Watch out for Mac McClung to have a great run, despite having a poor performance in the Big 12 tournament.
The best defensive team in the nation with a star studded backcourt. Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell are a great scoring duo with suffocating defense. One of the the only teams to force baseline and be successful is because they have one of the best coaches in the country. Even though he didn’t play D1 basketball doesn’t mean the man doesn’t know hoops. He’s one of the quickest thinkers there is, a deep run for Baylor is almost guaranteed.
This is one of my favorite teams in the tournament. Coached by Wisconsin’s own Nate Oats, he’s crafted a team that has it all. Led by SEC defensive player of the year Herb Jones, they come to play every game. They have solid role players in John Petty and Villanova transfer Jahvon Quinerly. Rounded out by a plethora of big men who come off the bench, and a SEC championship. They are a dark horse to win it all and beat Gonzaga.
Luka Garza. That man is why they have a shot. Cade Cunningham is clearly going to be the better long term player but in this tournament it might be Luka. It’s not hyperbole to say he is literally unstoppable on offense. Inside or outside he is scoring, the defender can only hope he misses. The Iowa squad is one that is also very solid, the biggest standout being Joe Wieskamp, who very well might be the best shooter in the draft. If this Iowa squad can figure it out on the defensive side before they face the Zags, it could be the matchup of the century.
I am very confident that Gonzaga is going to win it. All of these teams either need to figure out things on the defensive side or just play consistent in general. But if anybody takes the historical Bulldogs down it will be one of these teams.
OSU was destined to make the Elite 8 this year. EJ Liddell was leading the way for the Buckeyes for the whole season. While they had their eyes set on the next round, Oral Roberts University had other plans. The 15-seeded Oral Roberts upset 2-seeded Ohio State in the first round in overtime.
Virginia is still the defending champs, even though there was no tournament last year and the championship team from two years ago is basically all gone, they are still the defending champs. Coming in as a 4 seed, they were not expected to lose their first game. Ohio University had other plans. The 13-seed Bobcats led by Jason Preston knocked out the defending champs in the round of 64.
They also came in as the 4 seed, they also lost to a 13 seed. A team by the name of North Texas. Purdue had home-field advantage, kinda, the game was played in Purude’s home state of Indiana, but that did not make a difference for North Texas. North Texas won by 9 to give the program their first NCAA tournament win ever.
The Longhorns, coached by Shaka Smart saw their season end in the first round. Abilene Christian University ambushed the Texas offense, forcing 20+ turnovers. Ironically, Smart led a very similar VCU team to the 2011 Final Four with a similar style of defense, now he was knocked out of the tournament by his own medicine. Texas came in as the 3 seed, ACU the 14 seed.
A 5-seed out of the SEC this year was Tennessee. A solid year for the Volunteers, not as good as their Grant Williams’ led teams, but solid nonetheless. However, 12-seeded Oregon State was not going to be overlooked. Oregon State, winners of the PAC-12, made a statement in the first round. Winning by a score of 70-56.
The Fighting Illini lost their second round game against Loyola-Chicago. The Ramblers defense proved too much for Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn. Loyola-Chicago is no stranger to upsets. Senior Cameron Krutwig was a freshman on the 2018 Final Four team, now their senior leader, don’t be shocked if they make another deep run after this momentous win against top seeded Illinois.