March Madness officially kicked off Sunday with the conclusion of conference tournaments, and the bracket has been announced. This year’s festivities begin with the First Four round on Mar. 15 in Dayton, Ohio. Along with the insanity that comes this month, there was plenty of shock and controversy once the seeds were made public. A few conference champions were granted one-seeds in the likes of Kansas, UNC and Oregon while the Jayhawks were named the number one overall seed. Virginia claimed the final controversial spot on the top line, edging the B1G Champion Michigan State Spartans, who claimed a two-seed.
With brackets released, fans have started zeroing in on the most likely upsets to expect come Mar. 17. No. 10 Temple looks like a candidate to knock off the superior Iowa Hawkeyes, slotted at No. 7. Also coming from the South region, No. 9 Connecticut looks like it could reasonably be favored in their matchup against No. 8 Colorado in lieu of their American Athletic Conference Championship. Out west in Anaheim, No. 13 UNC-Wilmington prepares for in-state foe Duke, attempting to knock the Blue Devils out of the first round for the second time in three years. No. 10 VCU looks like another team playing an inferior team ranked higher, with No.7 Oregon State on the slate for them. While other games can and will have non-expected outcomes, these are some of the more prominent upset bids on the bracket.
With only sixty-eight teams in the field, there were bound to be teams to get in that did not deserve it as well as teams getting snubbed from the tourney all-together. While Syracuse claimed a 10 seed despite the lowest RPI in the history of the field, teams like Monmouth, Saint Mary’s and St. Bonaventure were not included at all. Some have suggested the Orange’s national presence could be the culprit for their inclusion, which would be an ugly look for the committee.
Joining Syracuse as an undeserving team invited to the dance, experts have questioned Vanderbilt and Tulsa’s presence in the First Four round. While the name-recognition bodes well for ratings in these games, the lack of resumes for these teams have certainly peeved fans of smaller schools who just missed out on the tourney.
The arrival of March Madness is one of the most electric times in sports; the survive-and-advance simplicity to it is unparalleled. Watching college kids not playing for money (usually) and putting it all on the line for bragging rights has become a tradition across America for our viewing pleasure. Televisions in every home will display teens fighting for their athletic careers, and I will enjoy every moment of it.
As for the Final Four, my bracket consists of Kansas, Kentucky, Texas A & M and Michigan State, with Kentucky knocking off Michigan State to win the title. Even though the chances of this are slim to none, filling out brackets is a part of the joy that is March Madness. You can fill out yours here: http://games.espn.go.com/tournament-challenge-bracket/2016/en/