Prepping for Madness
The secrets of the court revealed.
If you’re reading this column, then I know exactly what you are doing this week. You will be acting exactly as I will; you won’t make any progress on your papers, you’ll skip a few classes, you’ll even miss chapel. You will actually be watching basketball. But you will watch blindly because I also happen to know that you have not been watching college basketball year.
Luckily for you, Mars’ Hill has everything you need to know to be an informed viewer and Uncle Cam might just help you win some money. Here are the top five things you must know for the tournament.
1. Everyone is Terrible: Louisville, the top overall seed once lost three straight, Kansas was the only team to lose to woeful TCU in Big 12 play, Gonzaga has faced the easiest schedule for one seed ever, and Indiana is coached by a crazy person who hates co-ordinated inbounds plays. Florida is 0-6 in games decided by single digits, Michigan peaked five weeks ago, UCLA has no bench, and Georgetown is entirely dependent on one player. All of this is to say that unlike last year when Kentucky was a lock to win the title before playing a single game, this field is wide open.
A consistent trend has been top teams losing to overlooked opponents on the road. Watch out for upsets in scenarios where top teams have to play a long way from home. Syracuse, Saint Louis, and Oklahoma State playing in San Jose, and Florida and Miami playing in Austin are prime examples.
2. No singular player is truly great: Don’t fall in love with Kansas because they have Ben McLemore, or with Oklahoma State because of Marcus Smart, or with Indiana because of Victor Oladipo. This is one of the weakest draft classes ever; I legitimately believe that none of the players in this tournament would have been a top five pick in last year’s draft. There is also no guaranteed NBA franchise cornerstone like there was last year with Anthony Davis of Kentucky. Don’t get sucked into individual talent, pick teams with depth.
3. You’re bracket will be decimated by four o’clock on Thursday: Mediocre top teams and a lack of elite talent means one thing: a tournament full of upsets and unpredictability. This makes picking a bracket somehow more feeble than usual. Look for a lot of upheaval in the West Regional in particular. Gonzaga hasn’t played a team with a pulse in two months, Ohio State jumped from a four seed to a two because of one win, and New Mexico can’t win if Kendall Williams has a bad game.
4. Don’t gamble this year: A wide-open tournament also means bets will be going sideways. Vegas expert RJ Bell estimated that at least 13 Billion dollars will be wagered on the tournament. I suggest you wait until next year to contribute to that figure. If you really feel the need though, bet Over/Unders. The outcomes are impossible to predict, but the style of play isn’t. Take the Over if Indiana is involved; go under if Louisville is involved. Do some research on the dominant team’s playing style and then take the over or under accordingly.
5. Oregon will win it all: Okay, I can’t actually type with a straight face, but I do believe my Ducks will pull a couple upsets (upsets being a relative term since Oregon has the statistical profile of a six seed but got jobbed into a 12 seed by the incompetent selection committee), and make the Sweet Sixteen. Rather, my foolproof predictions sure to go wrong are Michigan State winning the Midwest, Virginia Commonwealth taking the South, Marquette emerging from the East, and New Mexico coming out of the West. Michigan State will beat Marquette to win it all in Atlanta.