Let the Madness begin: While We’re Waiting

It’s officially one of the best times of the year. The weather is getting warmer, at least in much of northeast Ohio. Baseball season is so close to starting up. The NBA and NHL postseasons are near. Last but certainly not least, the NCAA Tournament tips off this week! Outside of football season still being far away, you can’t ask for much more than that as a sports fan.

With Selection Sunday now over, the NCAA Tournament brackets have officially been released. For Buckeye Nation, they found out that the Ohio State Buckeyes are the No. 11 seed in the Midwest Region and will take on sixth-seeded Iowa State on Friday. For everyone else, well, let’s take a look at the entire 68-team bracket:

Not only did many people not know who all of the four No. 1 seeds would be, let alone some of the top-four seeds in each region, but it appears that this tournament is wide open. If Duke is fully healthy, they will likely be the pick to win it all by many. Their No. 1 overall seed proves that. Besides that, anything can happen. That’s what makes this time of year so fun. The fact that a 16-seed beat a 1-seed in 2018 makes it even more apparent that the field is wide open now more than ever.

The players. The coaches. The teams. The talent. The history. There are so many different parts of The Big Dance that make it so entertaining. Some (of the many) things to watch in the first two rounds:

  • If No. 9-seed UCF wins their first game over eighth-seeded VCU, 7-foot-6, 310-pound center Tacko Fall and the Knights will then take on No. 1 overall seed Duke. That will be quite an interesting matchup for Zion Williamson and the rest of the Blue Devils’ frontcourt.
  • Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino will lead his 10th-seeded Gophers against No. 7-seed Louisville in the first round. Richard’s father, Rick, is suing the Cardinals for $44 million. Talk about a revenge game.
  • If Arizona State wins their play-in game over St. John’s, Sun Devils head coach Bobby Hurley will then take on sixth-seeded Buffalo, the team program he led from 2013-15 before leaving for Arizona State.
  • The 5-12 matchup between fifth-seeded Marquette and 12th-seeded Murray State features two of the best scorers in the country and the top two scorers in the tournament: Marquette’s Markus Howard averages 25 points per game (fifth-most in Division I) while Murray State’s Ja Morant averages 24.6 points a game (sixth).
  • If No. 7-seed Cincinnati beats No. 10-seed Iowa and second-seeded Tennessee presumably wins their first-round game, the Bearcats could very well have home-court advantage over the Volunteers given that the game is in Columbus, Ohio. Tennessee may be the higher seed, but that could help Cincinnati a ton.

I don’t have too many complaints about the tournament or even the 68 teams that made the field, but one of the things I question every year: Why rank all 68 teams in the field from 1 to 68 if the committee doesn’t follow those rankings? I completely understand that there are so many rules that have to be followed, i.e. location of games, teams in the same conference not being able to matchup before the Elite Eight (if at all possible), no repeat regular-season matchups, etc., which therefore makes following an S-Curve for all 16 seeds in the four regions impossible to do. With that said, shouldn’t they at least follow the S-Curve for the top-two seeds in each region? The No. 1 overall seed should get the No. 8 overall seed (worst two seed), the No. 2 overall seed should get the No. 7 overall seed (second-worst two seed), and so on. That didn’t happen. Again.

Instead, a team like Michigan State — where if the S-Curve was followed should have been the No. 2 seed in Virginia’s region — got screwed over. The No. 6 overall seed was placed in Duke’s region. Meanwhile, Michigan, who the Spartans beat in the Big Ten Championship game moments prior to the brackets being revealed, was the No. 8 overall seed and have a much easier bracket.

I’m sure all of it will play out and be just fine, but that’s just a rant I have every year regarding the placement of certain teams and the overall rankings, which outside of the top-4 teams, seem to have no effect on the rest of the bracket.

With that said, good luck to all of you who are trying for that perfect bracket or trying to win your bracket pool. For everyone else, enjoy the madness. It’s one of the best times of the year and will surely be filled with plenty of incredible moments, games, and most importantly, upsets.