By Anna Burger ’18
It’s that time of year again, folks. March Madness. College Basketball 2.0. The Big Dance. College sports on steroids. That time of year when people loudly complain about upsets, Cinderellas, and the last minute buzzer-beaters that send their teams home.
This March will truly be at an extreme, if the regular season is a prediction of anything. According to ESPN, Top-5 teams have lost a grand total of 33 times, the second most by the end of February in AP Poll history. Expect upsets galore, and be praying your team brings its A game every game. Brackets will be busted early and often. Don’t take it personally.
Cincinnati is blessed with many quality teams within a 2-3 hour radius. Local teams have in recent years dazzled basketball fans with their consistent, deep runs in the tournaments.
Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer weighed in on local teams’ chances. “After last night (Wednesday, February 24), I think Xavier has some serious Final Four possibilities. They beat the Number 1 team (Villanova), and beat them convincingly. Their potential is great.” Xavier is 27-5 (14-4 Big East) and the number 2 seeded team in the East Region and will be playing Weber (15th seed).
UC has a 22-10 record (11-5 American) and a handful of close losses. According to Daugherty, UC is looking at a high seed right now, pitted against a better team, and possibly may make it into the Round of 32, but not much farther. True enough, UC is seeded as 9th in the West Region. Their first round matchup is with St. Joseph (8th seed).
Recent years have seen Kentucky at the top of many brackets. This year, with a younger team, UK has gone through some rough patches. Daugherty sees them making it into the Sweet 16, “(They’ve) played better lately. Two really good guards, teams with good guards go a long way. Big men aren’t as good this year, but it’s Kentucky.” UK (26-8, 13-5 SEC), fresh off winning the SEC Championship, is the 4 seed in the East Region. They face the 13th seeded Stony Brook.
Two local teams that will miss out on the tournament are Ohio State and Louisville. Ohio State has a 20-13 record, sitting at 5th in the Big Ten where they are 11-7. Louisville is sitting out with a self-imposed postseason ban from the sexual assault allegations that are facing the program.
To those who plan on filling out brackets this year, “Put names in the hat and pick them. Pick teams based on colors, and nicknames. That’s how random it is,” said Daugherty. Having been in a pool for the last 30 or so years, he has won maybe three times. “I know knowledge isn’t important. People who know less do better than those who know the sport.” His other main tip is not to overanalyze, and don’t take it seriously.
Get ready, America. The Madness is brewing.
All data and statistics courtesy of ESPN.