Brackets will be busted as March Madness returns

Dylan Epstein, Staff Writer

The March Madness Tournament is just around the corner as teams were selected and the bracket was formulated on March 14.  This season has been a wild ride as COVID-19 has drastically impacted how the regular season was played and now how the tournament will be played.  

In previous seasons, the tournament took place in a few different cities, but this year, the teams are in a bubble in Indianapolis where they will play in different stadiums within the city.  A lot can happen and has happened in these final weeks of March, starting with Selection Sunday and moving on to all the upsets, buzzer-beaters, and heartbreakers to come.

Although the teams selected are the best in the country, there may have been a few teams who got snubbed from the tournament.  The best team left out from this year’s tournament is Louisville, which ended the season with thirteen wins and seven losses, starting out rough but catching fire toward the end of the season.  

However, its season came to an abrupt end when its facilities and games were shut down due to COVID-19 tracing, which threw a wrench in its chance at the March Madness and caused a few losses, including an early exit to Duke in the ACC Tournament. 

Other teams that got left out include Saint Louis, Colorado State, Ole Miss, and Duke.  Each of these teams fought hard throughout the season and displayed a strong case for why they should be in the tournament.  For the Blue Devils, this is the first time the team will miss the Tournament since 1995.  They made a strong run at the end of the season, defeating teams such as Virginia and Louisville, but they came up just short.  Another team that has been very underrated throughout the season that  also got snubbed was Buffalo, which played terrific basketball the entire year. 

“Buffalo should’ve made the tournament because they are the best rebounding team in the nation who could’ve shocked many teams in the tournament. They took a tough loss to Ohio in the MAC championship game which kept them out of the tournament, but despite the loss, they still deserve to be one of the 68 teams invited to Indianapolis,” said sophomore Alec Goodman.  

There have been a few teams that have stood out this entire season who seem to be the favorites to bring home the National Championship trophy.  These teams include the four number one seeds which are Gonzaga, Illinois, Baylor, and Michigan.  With an outstanding undefeated season, the Gonzaga Bulldogs have rolled past their competition.  First-team All-America forward Corey Kispert has averaged nineteen points this season, second-team All-America point guard Jalen Suggs leads the team in assists, and second-team All-America forward Drew Timmeleads the team in rebounds.  

“I see no way any team can put a stop to the Bulldogs this season which will make them the eighth team to have a perfect season and win the National Championship in college basketball. Mark Few has coached this group of guys well and with all the talent they have, there is no stopping them,” said sophomore Cal Gober.  

Despite Gonzaga being the top team thus far, Baylor has been playing some excellent basketball as well, with first-team All-America selection Jared Butler leading.  

On top of that, Illinois is looking very sharp heading into the tournament with studs all across the court in Big Ten sixth man of the Year Andre Curbelo and first-team All-America selection Ayo Dosunmo in the backcourt.  They also have big man Kofi Cockburn in the front court and many more threats who can knock down shots from beyond the arc and play great defense.  

Lastly, Michigan, despite losing one of its best players in Isaiah Livers, still remains an extremely lethal squad.  Center Hunter Dickinson and guard Franz Wagner will look to lead this team and hopefully give them a shot at the title.  These teams have been destructive so far, but this tournament is known for upsets.

There is always that one team that busts your entire bracket, but it is so hard to choose which one will make a Cinderella run.  Arkansas has played solid basketball in the season so far, but has the possibility of taking a huge upset in the first round to Colgate, who never played a team in the top 75 this season, but has been phenomenal otherwise.  

Utah State is also a team to look out for because Texas Tech has been inconsistent all season, meaning it could take an early exit.  

Another potential team for a deep run is USC, sixth seed but a team to watch.  Led by freshman and second-team All-America selection Evan Mobley, USC has a sensational frontcourt and is one of the best rebounding teams in the country.   Chris Duarte and Eugene Omoruyi can also lead the Oregon Ducks to make a run for the championship.  

“Although they took a devastating loss to Oregon St. in the Pac 12 Tournament, the Ducks had eleven wins in thirteen games prior to that.  The Ducks are hot at the right time and they are a very fun team to watch which is why they might make a spark in the tournament,” said sophomore Ryan Epstein. 

March is every college basketball fan’s favorite month as everyone is filling out their brackets and at the edge of their seats awaiting the results.  This year looks to be an exciting tournament with an outstanding bracket of teams who are just craving this title after last year’s tournament cancellation.