Spring has sprung which means most of the attention will be on College Basketball’s March Madness celebration. Starting today, 64 teams will battle it out over a three week span until a king is crowned on April 4. This year, unlike most, the field is completely wide-open so don’t be surprised to see a 4, 5, heck even a 7 seed cut down the nets in Houston, Texas. The #6 vs. #11 matchups our great on paper enough for this scribe to pick a few upsets.
Kansas and Michigan State closed the conference regular season and post season tourney the strongest. However, that doesn’t ensure anything in this single elimination free-for-all. Just remember, pro talent and an inside presence is nice but not necessary. In March and early April, the guards, especially veteran guards are the most important commodities. For this first weekend we will take a look at the best 1st and possible 2nd round games.
Best 1st Round Matchup #6 Arizona vs. #11 Wichita State: Arizona’s success in the last two years is great and all but most of that talent is long gone to the NBA. The Shockers still have their same star-studded backcourt in place so look for Wichita State to make a nice run or at least win in this spot.
Best 2nd Round Potential Matchup #11 Wichita State vs. #3 Miami: Both programs are led by great coaches so neither side has a clear advantage. The Shockers will give the Hurricanes all they can handle but fall short of a Sweet 16 birth.
Best 1st Round Matchup #6 Texas vs. #11 Northern Iowa: Baylor has been helter-skelter all year long when it comes to outside shooting. The team their facing is known for its prolific shooting from the three-point line and has a reputation of shocking higher seeds (think Kansas) in the past. This scribe isn’t afraid to pick another #11 seed, but Texas’s head coach Shaka Smart won’t allow me to do it. This game will likely come all the way down to the wire but the Longhorns escape defeat.
Best 2nd Round Potential Matchup #5 Baylor vs. #4 Duke: If these two teams meet in the round of 32 it could swing either way. Baylor has the length and athleticism to hang with anyone in the nation. Duke’s strength is on the perimeter with Grayson Allen and Co. For sure this is a toss-up of a game that either outcome wouldn’t surprise many.
Best 1st Round Matchup #6 Seton Hall vs. #11 Gonzaga: Seton Hall defeated former #1 ranked Villanova in the Big East Tourney which makes them a bit of a wildcard. The Zags are usually seated higher but needed a victory in the WCC final over rival St. Mary’s just to get into the tourney. Yet another 6 vs. 11game that could go to overtime and is so difficult to pick.
Best 2nd Round Potential Matchup #5 Purdue vs. #4 Iowa State: The battle of the big men would be the focus in this potential second round tilt. Both teams have been consistently inconsistent all year but it’s hard to overlook the experience factor for Iowa State. Purdue seemed to lift their level of play in the last few weeks so look for that to carry over. Your guess is as good as any in this one.
Best 1st Round Matchup #8 USC vs. #9 Providence: Providence has a Top-5 draft pick in do-it-all guard Kris Dunn and a presence in the post to boot. USC has real talent but their lack of depth and tourney experience could come back to haunt them if they struggle in spots. Dunn is enough of a factor all-around to pick Providence.
Best 2nd Round Potential Matchup #5 Indiana vs. #4 Kentucky: Kentucky finally got on a roll in the SEC tourney but before that had struggled in the closing weeks of the regular season. The Hoosiers really turned it on with several impressive victories including a key win at Iowa to wrap up a Big Ten title. Kentucky and Indiana feature top-notch guards which means the winner will have gotten more from their post players.
Written by Chris Carlson Host of The College Ball Show blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio
Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio