And the Madness Begins
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The bracket is set and 64 teams prepare for their long, hard fought journey on March 16 in the “Big Dance” where the championship game will be held in Phoenix, Arizona April 1st and 3rd.
All 64 teams that are going to compete in the this tournament have all taken their own respective paths to get to the “Big Dance,” and some are harder than others, and some that are more inspiring than others.
Northwestern University took that path.
Led by fourth year head coach Chris Collins, the Wildcats fought and scratched their way to get to the position that they have deserve.
Coming off a 20-12 season last year, Northwestern was bumped out of the tournament last year by the university of Michigan, which so coincidentally, Northwestern beat Michigan in the Big 10 tournament to seal a spot in the “Big Dance.”
Northwestern finished this year with a 23-11 record, and placed as the 8th seed in the West region, where they’ll play their nemesis, 19-15 Vanderbilt University who is seeded 9.
Now heading south, UCLA. The Bruins probably took the hardest path to get to this tournament. Despite their 29-4 record, they played the hardest teams, and will eventually play the hardest teams in the tournament.
Coming off a 15-win year last year, UCLA is led by stellar freshman Lonzo Ball who is certain to be a one-and- done and will enter the NBA draft after this year.
But UCLA and Ball had to prove themselves to get to the “Big Dance.”
UCLA split a two game series with Arizona and Oregon who are ranked 2 and 3 in their respective pools, and they beat number 2 Kentucky, which UCLA could play again because they are in their pool.
To get to the Final Four, UCLA will have to through other teams like Wichita State, Seton Hall, Minnesota, and tournament favorite North Carolina.
But the team that will be question and challenged the most in this tournament be the University of Kansas.
Kansas lost early in the Big 12 tournament, but they were able to secure the number 1 seed in the Midwest region with a 28-4 record.
Kansas is known for not performing well in the “Big Dance,” which has hindered the success and fame of head coach Bill Self. Although, their luck could turn.
Riding the coattails of four senior Frank Mason III, and another freshman phenom in Josh Jackson, Kansas has been clicking on all cylinders, all year, and there is hope that they don’t slow down now.
Despite the teams and the players, the main reason for watching the tournament, is the “Create you bracket” contest.
The odds that people create a perfect bracket ranges from all mathematicians. Some, like Jeff Bergen from DePaul, says it’s 1 in 128 billion, and others say it’s 1 in 9.2 quintillion!
This “simple” contest ruins people’s lives with Cinderella stories and miracle shots and buzzer beaters. No one in the long history of the challenge has ever filled out a correct bracket. Although some get close, there is no prize for it.
So what will we see this year? Will we see the greatest Cinderella story in history, or will we see someone finally break the bracket curse? Only time will tell, as we begin a month of madness.