March Madness Preview
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 09:02
With Selection Sunday just two weeks away, the race to get off the bubble and improve tournament seeding is heating up. While teams like Marquette, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, and Georgetown are can safely be called locks for the tourney, other teams find themselves fighting for their tournament lives. Four teams that appear to be losing that fight as the college basketball regular season winds down, are Mississippi, Maryland, Charlotte, and Arizona State.
The Sun Devils find themselves on the outside looking in because of their less than impressive resume this season. Not only does the past look bad but the future doesn’t look too bright either with games against USC, UCLA, and Arizona upcoming. For the others, recent losses to teams that they should have defeated likely have shattered their dreams to go dancing. For Ole Miss, you can take your pick of losses to Alabama or LSU, while Maryland stumbled in a big way against Boston College, despite riding the momentum of a big upset over Duke.
Four teams who’s hopes are looking up are Boise State, Tennessee, Iowa State, and Creighton. When you’re on the safe side of the bubble, the pressure might be even greater headed into conference tournament play. This is the case for teams like Boise State who must win most, if not all, of their remaining games to have their names called on the 17th. Teams like Tennessee, who really boosted their resume with Tuesday’s upset win over Florida, or even LaSalle are walking on egg shells but if they avoid the “bad” losses, should be in good shape. Iowa State could be in the best shape of all four as they have been hot since a loss to Texas a couple of weeks back. Momentum is so important come tournament selection time and the Cyclones have that right now. Throw in the fact that they’re in the top 10 in the NCAA in scoring and rebounding and things are looking good for them if they continue to win. If some of the other teams on the edge stumble, teams like UMass, Kentucky, and St. John’s could slip in IF they capitalize on some big games against their remaining opponents.
While teams like Michigan State, Miami, Kansas, and New Mexico would love for the selection committee to present them with a number one seed, fans should be dubious that either will get it. For the Canes, less than impressive performances in the past week or so have likely knocked them out of contention, while the Lobos in-conference competition--or lack thereof--may prevent them from getting a number one.
Indiana will be the number one overall seed. Despite a few missteps (including a tough loss to Minnesota), the Hoosiers, led by Oladipo and Zeller, have been consistently dominant all year long. They have quality wins, a quality record, and high quality talent which will win them the Big Ten title and maybe even an NCAA championship title. Michigan, Gonzaga, and Duke should get the other top seeds. Duke is another team that has been great throughout the season despite a few mishaps, but their strong play against a strong schedule has been impressive. To be a top seed you have to play and win better than other teams. Gonzaga has done that with a strong front court and that’s why they might be number one in the country this time next week --the highest ranking in their school history. Finally, Michigan is a team who might be the most controversial top seed but with so much talent, combined with tremendous success against non-conference opponents and a very strong Big Ten conference schedule should have them with a number one next to their name.