Well Selection Sunday has finally hit for college basketball fans. Selection Sunday is when the 68 teams that compete for a National Championship get announced. Whether you were comfortably in like Virginia and North Carolina or had to sweat it out like UCLA and Arizona State the field has officially been set.
Surprises: Arizona State:
Few people thought that Arizona State was going to make the big dance but they managed to do enough to grab an at-large bid. A record of 5-2 against other teams that made the NCAA tournament field was key here.
Although Arizona State has lost some games to lesser opponents they have key wins against Kansas, Kansas State, UCLA and Xavier that were too good to pass up to the selection committee.
The committee wasn’t judging the Sooners based on their whole body of work this season. Even worse is they didn’t think that Oklahoma well in the “last four in” category. Oklahoma has won just six games in all of 2018.
Yes you read that right, they have a 7-9 record against other teams that made it into this years field but have been trending in the wrong direction of late. Like Arizona State, a team that was once a top 10 team mid-season fell off drastically and almost missed out on one of the 32 at-large bids.
This ones just completely shocking. I really did not think that Syracuse did enough to make the NCAA tournament. They were 5-9 against the field this season and had some “quadrant 3” or even worse loses. They did not fair well against the bottom of the ACC and finished 9-12 overall in conference, which includes conference tournament play.
The Fives and Sixes:
Notoriously a spot where there are a plethora of upsets the five and six seeds are locked in. One of the best match ups has to be Clemson and New Mexico State. New Mexico State is 2-0 against this year’s tournament teams.
They have back to back wins this season against Miami and Davidson and are 27-5 this season. They are lead by Zach Lofton ad have five guys that average eight or more points this season. The Aggies have some senior leadership and have the ability to shut down the incredible backcourt of Gabe DeVoe and Marcquise Reed.
Another solid matchup is West Virginia and Murray State. Now both these teams have very fast paced games which make this game interesting. West Virginia is the better team at forcing turnovers but Murray State both scores and allows less points. I think this game will be closer than many think and if Jonathan Stark, who averages just under 22 points per game shows up to play, this could be a big 5-12 upset.
The One seed with the toughest road:
This falls to either Villanova or Kansas. Even though Kansas has both Duke and Michigan State in their bracket they only have to play one of them in the Elite Eight.
With the best seeds in their bracket they would have to face Penn, Seton Hall, Auburn and then Duke. Auburn has slumped lately, Seton Hall they match up well against and then Duke will ideally be a toss up depending on the health of Udoka Azubuike.
Ultimately Virginia got rewarded this season by getting a gauntlet for a bracket. Seeds 2-8 have all been ranked at least once this season. They draw the SEC champion in Kentucky, SEC runner up in Tennessee, AAC champion in Cincinnati and a team that they have seen twice already this season in Miami. A team that has dominated all season will get tested throughout each game if they wish to win the National Championship.
Outside the top 2 seeds:
Michigan is blazing hot and comes in as a three seed. They fall in a region with North Carolina and Xavier who are all built similarly. They typically play with four guards who can handle the ball and play with one big. Ultimately teams clicking at the right time are dangerous in March.
This is one of the best brackets in recent memory. Lots of good matchups throughout the tournament as well as many teams who can win on any given day. The NCAA tournament is set and the Madness is set to begin.
Hitting your stride at the right time can lead to a deep NCAA tournament run. If you don’t believe me? You can ask Kemba Walker.
Featured image from Basketballscores.com.
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