The college basketball regular season has finally ended and we can finally all start looking forward to the only portion of basketball anyone cares about- March Madness. The NCAA tournament offers the perfect opportunity for an underdog to thrive and annually provides some great underdog stories. If Gordon Hayward’s final shot against Duke had gone in during the 2010 National Championship game, it would have been one of the greatest upsets in sports history. Two years ago we got to watch Butler go for it again against 11-seed Virginia Commonwealth University in the Final Four. Butler beat them out to go against UConn and win the award for the least thrilling National Championship game I have ever seen. Last year, we didn’t even have to wait past the two days to see big upsets. 2-seed Duke fell to 15-seed Lehigh and 2-seed Missouri got beat by Norfolk state in the opening weekend of the tournament. The NCAA tournament is the underdog fan’s dream. But in the history of the tournament, no one has witnessed a 1-seed going out in their first game. This could be the year that changes.
If you had a million dollars on the line and bet on all 1-seeds to make it out of the first round, I’d say you made easy money. However, both the odds and I would tell you that betting on a safety being scored in the Super Bowl is throwing your money away, and we’d be wrong for two years in a row. As a fan of sports I’ve come to expect the unexpected, and for at least one sports story seeming more like a Hollywood screenplay than real life. With all of the inconsistencies in college basketball this year, perhaps this will be the year we finally see a 1-seed fall in the first round. Of the four top teams ranked in this year’s preseason AP poll: Each team has fallen out of the top 4 at least once, there was no preseason top 4 in the top 4 at one point, and it concluded with having Indiana and Louisville back in the top 4 at the end of the season.
How many times have the top 4 teams ranked in the AP poll been the same for consecutive weeks?
Weeks 1- 2: 1) Indiana 2) Louisville 3) Kentucky 4) Ohio State
Weeks 5-6 1) Indiana 2) Duke 3) Michigan 4) Syracuse
Weeks 8- 9: 1) Duke 2) Michigan 3) Arizona 4) Louisville (Could include Week 10 as Louisville and Arizona merely switched.)
How many combined losses do the current top 4 teams (AP Poll) have against unranked Teams?
Unranked at the Time of play: 8
Unranked Currently: 10
What’s the longest streak a team has lasted ranked number 1? How many times has the number 1 ranking switched?
Longest Streak: Indiana Weeks 1-6
Times Changed: 6
Needless to say, there’s been some moving around in the northern part of the rankings. We’ve concluded the season with,
*number in parenthesis is team’s AP ranking as of March 17:
1) Gonzaga (31-2): Losses to Illinois (No ranking) and Butler (NR).
2) Duke (27-5): Losses to North Carolina State (NR), Miami (9), Maryland twice (NR), Virginia (NR)
3) Indiana (26-5): Losses to Butler (NR), Wisconsin (22), Illinois (NR), Minnesota (NR), Ohio State (10)
4) Louisville (26-5): Losses to Duke (2), Syracuse (19), Villanova (NR), Georgetown (5), Notre Dame (NR)
With the completion of Conference tournaments and unveiling of the bracket yesterday, three of those four teams received number one seeds, with Duke the only one receiving a two seed. I’m not saying that this year will be the first time in history that a one seed to fails to make it out of the first round, but there is a chance. College basketball seems more competitive this year than it has in the past and is primed for what would be one of the biggest upset in sports. Every one seed has at least 2 losses to teams that are currently unranked in the AP poll. Everyone remembers that stretch this season where being ranked number 1 seemed more like a curse than an honor. In fact, the number one team has switched 6 times throughout the season. It’s safe to say that this season has been pretty unpredictable.
Take a look at Gonzaga: They have played only 3 opponents this season who were ranked at the time, and only beat one of them. Let’s not forget that although Illinois and Butler were ranked when they played the Zags, both teams have now fallen out of the rankings. The team has played like they’re supposed to and deserve the number one seed. However, I don’t have much faith in a team that hasn’t played a ranked opponent since last year. That being said, Gonzaga plays Southern University, the SWAC Champions with a 182 RPI that should give them an easy path to the next round. It’s called March Madness though, not March Everything Goes as Expected.
Duke has Ryan Kelly back and had played as though they are the best team in the country prior to a slip-up against Maryland in the ACC Tournament. It can’t be expected for a powerhouse program moving at full cylinders to lose in the first round right? In case you somehow forget about C.J. McCollum going David on Goliath and leading Lehigh to a win against Duke last year, you can only make a NCAAW bracket this year. For upset-lovers, let’s hope lightening can strike twice.
Indiana started off this season ranked number one. Although they have some bad losses, they are worthy of the number one seed they received. When you have Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller playing on the same team, you’ll either be a good team or looking to hire a new coach. Regardless, Indiana has 5 losses this year to 3 teams that are now unranked. They look nearly unbeatable on paper, but March has taught us that games are played on the court and not on paper.
Louisville has worked themselves into the number one overall seed after sliding earlier this season. Every team they lost to will be of a much higher caliber than the team they will play in the first round of the tournament. Louisville rolled through the Big East tournament, which is full of great teams, but all it takes is a slightly swollen ankle or a worn down roster to prime a team like the Cardinals for an upset. Louisville got hot at the right time last year and made a deep run in the tournament and surely will be looking to do so again. All it takes though is one slip to ruin your chances in the Big Dance.
I fully expect each and every one seed to make it out of the first round this year. However, that is not going to stop me from cheering for the 16-seed in each matchup with a number 1. I want to see my bracket busted, I want to witness one of the greatest upsets in sports, and I want to see a 16-seed make a deep run in the tourney. Gives us the ultimate March Madness story by making every bracket-maker fuming before the second round, seeing a red-faced screaming mad head coach yelling as his one-seed loses, and providing the mad delight we’ve come to expect from the NCAA Tournament. It’s 2013, and I’m hoping its unlucky 13 for some of the top teams.
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