One of my most favorite times of the year is upon us….. March Madness.
But, if we are being honest, hasn’t this been one of the weirdest college basketball seasons in most recent history?
First we had November Neurosis…….. which proceeded to December Delusions. Then we moved on to the January Jumble followed by the February Frenzy.
Now the one month we usually associate with the craziness of college basketball may end up being one of the more sane months of the year since college basketball began. Well…. until the brackets come out that is. But if a 16 seed were to upset a 1 seed this year….. would it actually be that big of a deal?
Want a preview to the madness of March? Here’s you ten things to ponder on….
1. North Carolina – The Tar Heels are in the basement of the ACC. They have a losing record. How long has it been since we have ever heard of an NCAA Tourney without North Carolina as a participant? How bad are the Heels? The NIT would be like winning the Powerball ticket for them this year.
2. The West Coast Conference – Come tournament time, you could see three teams: Gonzaga, BYU and St. Mary’s be three contenders to make the Sweet Sixteen. That is if St. Mary’s makes the field ….. but right now having teams like Gonzaga and BYU can’t do anything but help your cause. Especially when your home-road record is just as similar to the other two as is your overall record.
3. Speaking of the Sweet Sixteen. Some March Madness trivia knowledge for you on this one. The Sweet Sixteen has always been that one name that always brings college basketball thoughts and memories to mind. Did you know though that the NCAA grabbed that term from another tournament? The Kentucky High School Athletic Association first used the Sweet Sixteen moniker for their one classification basketball tournament in which the winners from the states 16 regions play a state tournament at Rupp Arena. Teams from each of the 16 regions play each other from a pre tournament draw which is broadcast statewide. The KHSAA copyrighted the term and the rest is history.
4. Stephen F Austin has one of the very best records in the country at 26-3. They have lost one game at home and two games on the road and 13 in a row and yet are unranked. Why is this a very crazy note of knowledge? These same Anteaters went into Cameron Indoor and beat Duke on its home floor. Come on now y’all. How about some respect? Keep an eye on this team in the tourney. I think you will see them there.
5. East Tennessee State – Yes I’m putting another “mid major” out there. Why? This is another under the radar team in another under the radar conference which has historically gave the big dogs fits in the past. The Buccaneers won the Southern Conference in clutch fashion as Patrick Good hit a cold 3 point shot in front of a raucous Freedom Hall in Johnson City, Tennessee to win the regular season title outright for Head Coach Steve Forbes. But what’s special about the Bucs? They lost to Kansas by only 12. And the conference foes they faced? Second place Furman lost to Auburn by 3 in overtime. Third place UNC Greensboro lost to Kansas by 8 but also went to Washington DC and beat the Georgetown Hoyas of the Big East on their home floor…. no small feat. Come tournament time keep an eye open to the side on ETSU and the Southern Conference.
6. San Diego State Aztecs – Who says you have to be young and vibrant to make an impact as a college coach?
Brian Dutcher is 60 years old and has only had the head job at San Diego State for what is going on three years. For 18 years, he served as an assistant/associate head coach under Steve Fisher (himself no stranger to the NCAA Tournament) at Michigan and at San Diego State before becoming the head man himself. Dutcher knows the Fab Five. Today Dutcher has had the Aztecs as one of the Fab Five teams in the country to keep your eyes on. They may not be as high profile as a Duke or Kansas or Baylor but as long as you win come tourney time it doesn’t matter what your name is.
7. Rutgers – When Steve Pikiell took over the Rutgers program…. not many gave him much hope of competing very well in the present Big Ten. No one ever told these same people how crazy college basketball would be either. Rutgers, which came over to the Big Ten from the old Big East, now stands in 8th place in the conference. After getting used to its confines in the Big Ten basement, Pikiell now has the Scarlet Knights in 8th position…. higher than Michigan, Indiana, Purdue and Minnesota. My how the times have changed.
8. Sabrina Ionescu – If you have never seen her play, you are missing out on a once in a lifetime experience. Yes, women’s basketball is not held in the same regard as the men’s game. Let’s call a spade a spade. But if you are a true basketball fan no matter what level it may be, you know just by really paying attention when you watch it on television that the college women’s game may be the purest form of basketball that there is. Ionescu, a close friend of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, spoke at the Celebration of Life for the Bryants and was asked to speak alongside Diana Taurasi, Geno Auriemma, Shaquille O’Neal and Michael Jordan. If that doesn’t tell you something about her I’m not sure what does. And her game, it’s like watching a female Larry Bird with the stats to prove it. At Oregon, an NCAA record of over 2000 points, 1000 assists and 1000 rebounds. A career triple double. That’s pretty amazing.
9. Hofstra – It’s not Duke. It’s not North Carolina. It’s not Kentucky. It’s not Kansas. It’s not Michigan State. It’s not Virginia. In January it was Hofstra with the nations LONGEST winning streak at 12. That’s right 12.
Welcome to the life of college basketball in 2020.
10. North Carolina – My last point for you to think about. The Tar Heels are absolutely dead (5-13, 12-17 overall) last in the ACC with no possibility of any tournaments save a miraculous run to the ACC Tourney championship. That’s 15th place in the ACC for anyone wondering out there. Yet in the team points per game for college teams this year, the Tar Heels rank 3rd in the nation! Yes! You heard that correctly….. third at 85.8 points per game. They are three spots ahead of their rivals the Duke Blue Devils who are in fourth place in the ACC (13-5, 23-6 overall) and averaging 82.7 points per game. So tell me now how crazy this March is going to be.
College basketball is full of all kinds of crazy. Every year has its usual amount of frustration come tournament time. It seems as though the 2019-2020 college basketball season has already had enough madness to sustain us for another two or three seasons to come. And if this season is ANY indication of the tournament that we are about to watch on television? Everybody better go ahead and make your wackiest bracket picks yet! I mean why not. This year wacky and crazy is the norm. So go ahead and pick your Wright State over Villanova. Pick your Yale over Virginia. After the way this year has gone….. would it really be that crazy?