March is upon us and so is March Madness.
Up to this point, there hasn’t been any clear-cut favorites to win the tournament, but each team has their own strengths and weaknesses. Since the season began, Duke, Michigan State, Villanova and Virginia have all held the title of the number one team in the nation, with UVa being the top ranked team as of now. During the second half of the season, number one was traded back and forth between Villanova and Virginia. Filling out March Madness brackets can be stressful, but I’m here to give you some advice toward making the perfect bracket.
Teams Trending Upward
Often times, the team that wins the tournament isn’t the team with the best overall record. Teams that finish the season on a hot streak are commonly the teams that make a deep run and sometimes win. This list does not include any top five teams, but it includes teams that could shock spectators down the road with the way that they have been competing as of late.
Michigan Wolverines (22-7)
The Wolverines have one five games in a row and have also won eight of their last ten. During this span, Michigan defeated #8 Ohio State by a score of 74-62. Although the wins that Michigan has tallied are impressive, the manner in which they have been winning is even more impressive. During this five game winning streak, the Wolverines have beaten each of their opponents by at least ten points, and they have beaten two of those teams by at least twenty points!
North Carolina Tar Heels (22-7)
North Carolina has a history of winning and being tough competitors in the NCAA Tournament. Although the season has been tough for the Tar Heels, they seems to be pulling it together at the opportune time. UNC has rattled off six wins in a row with a victory against rival, #8 Duke University coming at home in early February. North Carolina still has tests to pass before the end of the season. The Tar Heels still have to face off against ACC foe, Miami in Durham and battle #5 Duke in a rematch for the season finale.
Teams Trending Downward
There are always teams that make the tournament, but have fallen off during the second half of the season. These teams are those that have a lesser chance of winning the championship, but anything can happen.
West Virginia Mountaineers (21-8)
In early January, Morgantown was close to burning to the ground. The Mountaineers had started 15-1 and were candidates for the number one spot in the AP Poll. Since then, tragedy had befallen WVU’s season. In the last ten games, West Virginia had only won half of their games (5-5) and had lost four of those games to unranked teams.
Clemson Tigers (21-7)
The Tigers are currently ranked 20th in the country, but the end of February was not kind to them at all. Clemson had lost three straight games to Florida State, #5 Duke and Virginia Tech. Losing to two unranked teams is not ideal, but they still have to play Florida State again before the season ends. The season still has a chance to get worse before it gets better for the Tigers.
Each year, there are certain teams that are selected at the beginning of the season as “locks” for the final four. Each year there are some of those teams that underperform and some even fail to reach the tournament.
Oklahoma Sooners (17-11)
Oklahoma was primed to be the next big powerhouse in the NCAA and Freshman Trae Young was anointed as a future NBA superstar by the likes of LeBron James and Stephen Curry, but this season hasn’t really panned out the way that either had hoped. At this point the Sooner are still a slim contender for a spot in the tournament, but this is doubtful as they have lost six of their last seven. Oklahoma’s best chance at winning a title is if Young returns next year for another season.
Situations change very quickly in the NCAA, and the team that cuts the nets at the end of the tournament is also a team that no one regarded as a real contender. The best thing to do is just sit back, get some popcorn and watch the madness unfold. There’s really no one who could predict how the tournament will end, but that’s also what makes the tournament great.