It's that time of year again. Time for all college basketball fans to unite as one as imperfect people try to complete a perfect task: Correctly predict every game in the annual NCAA Tournament. The odds of a person successfully pulling this off, is well, large. To be exact, the odds are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. However year after year, we find ourselves filling out brackets left and right, hoping we have the golden bracket. The close match-ups in the tournament requires some research for the serious fan, and with 64 teams in the tournament, that's exactly where the "madness" part comes in handy. People will drive themselves mad after hours upon hours of in-depth looks at teams.
In 2014, the NCAA tournament looks as intriguing as ever. With the selection committee being questioned over the seeding in this years contest, teams will take to the court in order to prove worthy of their respective positions. There are no clear cut favorites to cut the nets down this year, and no Cinderella favorites that could make a run for the ages. So whether you're playing against your co-workers in the office pool, or you're simply just a fan wanting some good games, strap on your seat belts and "get yo popcorn ready!", nobody is safe in the middle of March. Here's a preview of the 2014 Mens NCAA Basketball Tournament:
Top four seeds:
Under the Radar Team of the South Region- VCU
With the talent in the South region, teams and analysts alike are over-looking this VCU team that went 26-8 this year. The Rams have always been a threat in the NCAA tournament with head coach Shaka Smart running the team, and with a defense that forces turnovers as easily as VCU, UCLA could be in for a surprise if the Rams advance to the round of 32.
Pretender of the South Region- UCLA
The Bruins have often been streaky throughout the season. With huge wins such as defeating conference foes Arizona and Oregon, UCLA has also seen it's not so sunny days as well. Losses to Washington State and Missouri cloud one's thoughts when considering UCLA as a serious contender in the South region. Expected to win their first game against Tulsa, a VCU match-up could spell the end for UCLA if they aren't cautious. Should the Bruins escape into the Sweet Sixteen, a possible meeting with Florida is likely to end their run.
Top four seeds:
- San Diego State
Under the Radar Team in the West Region- Baylor
If any team were to make a unexpected run to the Elite Eight, it would be the Baylor Bears. Baylor has been battle tested with games against Kansas, Kentucky and Syracuse. Every team needs a big man to protect the paint, and Isaiah Austin holds the fort down for Baylor. Austin, who stands at a towering 7-foot-1 inches, averages about three blocks per game, forcing teams to think twice about driving into the lane. While the Bears do need to spread the floor a little more to analysts liking, they are a team that could make a splash early on.
Pretender of the West Region- Oklahoma
The Sooners are an up-tempo, run and shoot team averaging 82.2 points per game. Don't let this number deceive you, considering the defensive part of this Sooners squad isn't equivalent to its offensive counterpart. Oklahoma is a team built for regular season play, and have yet to prove themselves worthy to be labeled as a threat in the tournament. This team relies too heavily on it's offense, and when caught in a slow, controlled paced game, the Sooners are all of a sudden not so dangerous.
Top four seeds:
- Iowa State
- Michigan State
Under The Radar Team in the East Region- Memphis
Memphis, seeded at number 8, have played phenomenal Tiger basketball throughout the year. Losing to Florida by two points and sweeping the season series with Louisville twice, Memphis means serious business on the court. The Tigers attack is as balanced as can be, with threats racing in from beyond the arch and down low by the basket as well. Although turnovers and poor free throw shooting can haunt Memphis, this team has proven itself to be a wildcard when played this year. Should the Tigers play like they are capable of, look for Memphis to send shock-waves through America's brackets.
Pretender of the East Region- Villanova
It's rare a team with a seeding this high can be considered a pretender in March Madness, yet here we are. Villanova doesn't have the resume to be a number two seed, or three or four seed for that matter. The Wildcats have been exposed when playing top ranked opponents, although they did salvage a win against Kansas early on in the year. However Villanova struggles against opponents they should regularly beat and is a risk to take when choosing teams after the first round. The Wildcats attack lives and dies from behind the three point line, and should a team catch them on a bad shooting night from downtown, trouble will ensue for Wildcat fans across the nation.
Top four seeds:
- Wichita State
Under the Radar Team of the Midwest Region- Kentucky
Ignore the losses to Florida for UK. Florida is heralded as the best overall team in the tournament, and should the Cats go on a run, the two wouldn't meet up until a national championship game appearance. Kentucky's Julius Randle is likely to be a top five pick in next years NBA draft, and combined with Willie Cauley-Stein down low, UK has a solid presence in the paint combined with the dynamic Harrison twins in the backcourt. Certainly we've seen the upside of this Wildcat team, and with John Calipari at the helm, anything can happen.
Pretender of the Midwest Region- Wichita State
Although practically the same team from last year returns for WSU, not too many people are high enough on the Shockers to repeat their Cinderella run. Wichita State finished 34-0, yet their weak schedule clouds any reason for experts to believe in another run similar to a year ago. If they are to make it to the final four two years in a row, they will have to slay giants such as Louisville, Kentucky, Duke and Michigan to accomplish the feat.