Wednesday, March 18, 2015
It's that one defining moment, shot or game that sends feverless fans into a frenzy of unbridled joy, celebrating the heroics of amateurs. It's that cinderella that lights up the dance, even if their fans can only fill a section or two in the arena.
No matter how big or small, the NCAA Tournament gives every team who earns their spot a chance. Just in the past couple weeks, we've seen numerous last second swings to determine postseason fates. One came when Belmont punched their ticket with a ridiculous game-winning three in the final seconds to deny favorite Murray St. of an automatic bid, and a spot in the big dance.
We love the madness because anything can truly happen. Heck, last year, UConn looked dead in the water in the first game, but scrapped to force overtime and win. Five wins later and they were on the mountaintop.
In one fell swoop, you can have your bracket busted, the hair on your arms lifted and your emotions scaling from agony to ecstasy, with your jaw on the floor.
That magical time of year is steadily approaching, so let's get into some of the teams that will be filling our TV screens for the next month. Here are the 5 exciting potential match-ups to look out for:
This has to be number 1! Last year's wild elite 8 game saw Wisconsin narrowly escaping to deny Arizona coach Sean Miller of his first final four. Now, call it blind luck, fate or some personal committee rearranging, but the two teams look to be in for another elite 8 collision course. Many of the same faces are back, and both teams are loaded. What does the winner possibly get? A battle with Kentucky. Have fun with that!
This potential Sweet 16 battle would be just what the doctor ordered if you like high-scoring affairs. It features two fantastic backcourts, as well as an interesting coaching match-up. Iowa State coach fred Hoiberg perhaps exceeded expectations last year after winning games in the dance without star Georges Niang after he broke his foot. On the other end, Gonzaga coach Mark Few has had incredible regular seasons with the team, but has mostly been a bust in the tournament. It would be fun to see who prevails!
There is absolutely no way the committee didn't pair these two teams up randomly. Wichita State at 28-4 as a 7-seed smells funny to begin with. Add the state rivalry, bragging rights and ratings, and you have to think the committee had an agenda here. Regardless, it would make for must-see TV, and I'm not complaining! If both win their first game, which is more than attainable, we will see a clash of epic proportions!
This one would be a really interesting clash of styles and story lines. Virginia started out as one of the very best teams in America, and even after the injury to their leading scorer Justin Anderson, the team managed to win most of their games. But, the question has always been if they have enough offensive firepower when it matters most. Insert Michigan State, who is much more of an offensive unit than Virginia. With Michigan State nearly beating Wisconsin in the Big 10 final, Sparty is a trendy pick. This game could make or break some brackets!
This is a potential championship game, and boy would it feature a bit of everything. Many, including myself, have said that Duke is one of just a few teams that can matchup with Kentucky. The bigger question for Duke is if they can get to this game. Okafor is a star, but his free throw shooting is abysmal, so close games could be a trouble spot for Duke. Duke also must exhibit better defense to reach the final. We will see, but it would be one heck of a final!
Regardless of if we get these 5 great games, it's the best sports tournament and the best time of year. Sit back and enjoy the show! It should be another action-packed, unpredictable show.