March Madness Commences

This weekend marked the end of the regular season in Men’s College Basketball, and while Wichita State wrapped up its season at 32-0 and assured themselves a top seed in the tournament, there’s still much to be decided by the end of the day Sunday. This week is Championship Week. Every major conference in the country will have their tourney to see who gets in and who doesn’t. A lot of the week will be dedicated to teams who’re on the “bubble”. A few teams – like the Shockers – have already punched their ticket, but for the most part the bracket seedings still have a long way to go before “Selection Sunday”.

The biggest tournaments will be the Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and ACC. The final two games played next Sunday will be the championship games in Greensboro and Indianapolis where the ACC and Big Ten are being held. The conference tournaments are the deciding factors for the teams that want to pad their resum├ęs before the end of the season. The selection committee will take many a things into account like RPI, conference record, tournament finish and strength of tournament in deciding the brackets. A team that goes deep in its conference tournament or gets upset early can have a huge impact on whether or not it’ll go dancing a week from Thursday. Meanwhile, teams that makes an improbable run in the conference tournament can often alter the landscape for other teams that were thought to be a lock.

The teams that stand to be effectedvare Kansas, Syracuse, Virginia, Michigan State, Cincinnati and Duke. If any of these teams gets knocked off early or manages to win their conference title it would drastically change the seedings in the dance. All of these teams have at one time or another been ranked extremely high while faltering somewhere along the line.

The players that can vastly improve their draft stock are Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Marcus Smart, CJ Fair, Aaron Gordon and Julius Randle. All of these players will be highly scouted during the next four weeks to see how they do when the pressure gets turned up. Teams often bring their best defensive effort come tournament time, and the players that succeed can often find themselves as the top overall pick based on their performance. An example would be Greg Oden, who proved to be a dominant low post presence in 2007. Oden led the Buckeyes to the National Title Game while turning himself into the top overall player, who was taken over Kevin Durant. This year if a player like Andrew Wiggins leads his team to a Big 12 title and a deep run in the tournament then he could assert himself as the top overall pick in the draft.

Most experts believe that this is one of the deepest drafts in the past decade, having GM’s salivating over ping pong balls in May. Many believe that the top 7-10 players taken in this year’s draft could turn out to be perennial all-stars with the ability to immediately alter the fortunes of any franchise.