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College Basketball: Getting Closer to the Big Dance

College basketball fans have been patiently waiting for the magical month and the NCAA tournament is just 27 days away. Some of the best and most competitive basketball is coming up at the beginning of March, but for now, what should be expected.

What To Expect:

Ah March, a time where Cinderella’s dance, pretenders and contenders separate, heroes are made and college basketball fans get what they have waited a whole season for. As teams jockey for NCAA tournament seeding, the games have gotten increasingly more exciting. There has been an increase in close games and an increase in overtime games. What should be expected come March is more madness than normal. This season there is a large number of teams that have the opportunity to run the table and cut down the nets in early April. Many think that Duke is head and shoulders above the rest of the field but how many times has the team that seemingly was the overwhelming favorite, win the NCAA tournament? Hardly ever is your answer. There is a group of about 10 teams that can seriously compete for a title come March.

With that being said, there are also a large number of skilled mid-majors. The Ivy league team year in and year out is a tough out for any NCAA tournament team that draws them as an opponent. This year will continue that trend as well. Teams like Vermont, Wofford, Murray State, Lipscomb among others all present value as teams that should both win their conference championships as well as being an underdog in a first-round matchup in the NCAA tournament. Uncertainty is the most consistent thing come March. One thing to be expected is a lot of good games. There is not a huge disparity between mid-majors and average power conference teams, those make for very good and competitive tournament games.

What Has Been Learned:

College Basketball
Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield, Photo courtesy of SB Nation.

This season has been very interesting in college sports. It seems like teams have gone from huge wins to disappointing losses one game to another. There has been little consistency outside of the top five teams and that has been what has made this season so interesting for college basketball. What that means is that if this season has proven to be this crazy when there is a home and away team, it can only get crazier when both teams are on a neutral court.

Virginia is back and looking for redemption this season. Despite losing to Duke twice already this season, they have learned a lot from them. They are playing extremely good defense and have added a more improved scoring offense this season compared to last. They are one of those teams that look like they are built to last this march and it looks to be a redemption year for them after what happened last season.

Tennessee has the best frontcourt in the country and it’s sort of not that close. Grant Williams Kyle Alexander and Admiral Schofield have proven to be three of the best frontcourt players in the country production wise. They are all extremely versatile and continue to put pressure on other teams.

To piggyback off of that, the Duke Blue Devils appear to be the real deal but also have shown some weakness at the same time. As the games have gotten tougher for Duke they have gotten less and less production from their bench. In their win at Louisville, they got much-needed help on defense from sophomore guard Jordan Goldwire. However, the bench mustered just one point in that win. One point. Which almost certainly means that if Reddish, Barrett or Zion have a bad game, they may need scoring in places that they almost never get it from.

Duke is cutting their rotation down as March approaches. In their last, two games they have gotten just 68 minutes from their bench out of a possible 400. They rely so heavily on their four freshman stars that they don’t use a bench if hardly at all. Duke better get stellar play from their starters, or they could be in a little bit of trouble trying to string together wins in the NCAA Tournament.


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