(Note: This column was written before the first round games of the NCAA Tournament)
Aside from the information pumped into our minds from the bracketology experts on ESPN, most of us do not have a clue as to why some teams have a chance in this year’s March Madness tournament. Although teams like Kansas and Kentucky have received all the hype that a college ego can take, their chances of making it into the final game may not be set in stone.
Undervalued teams like Cornell, Butler, and Louisville are legitimate threats in this year’s tournament and will probably put some teams on upset alert. Here are some cases for and against all these teams.
Kansas is the consensus vote for best team in the country. They are a poised group of talented, veteran players who are led by their fearless leader Sherron Collins. They have All-Americans at point guard (Collins) and center (Cole Aldridge), and when Xavier Henry is hitting his jumpers, they have one on the wing as well.
The downside for this club is that they are in the toughest bracket in the entire tournament. Their road to the championship will run through teams like Ohio State (Big Ten champs), Georgetown and their very talented sophomore center Greg Monroe (Big East runner-up), and Maryland, who won a share of the Atlantic Coastal Conference title.
John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins are both phenomenal players for John Calipari’s team, and it is loaded with young talent. Wall is probably the fastest guard in college basketball and Cousins dominates on the block, most of the time.
The strength of this team is also its Achilles heel, youth. Cousins has been known to get a bit unruly when teams make him lose his cool, Wall argues with Calipari openly, and Eric Bledsoe is too busy showing off his potty mouth most games to even help contribute to the win. When it is all said and done with, their talent alone will take the wildcats pretty far, but there will be no cutting of the nets for Ashley Judd’s boys this year.
Cornell has a talented inside outside game as well. They have a 7-footer in Jeff Foote (12.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg) who is a great compliment to Ryan Wittman (17.5 ppg, 42% from 3). This is one Ivy League school with guts. They will take on any team in the country. Their schedule included teams like Kansas, Syracuse, and Seton Hall.
The only problem is they lost all three of them. Cornell has not beaten one tournament team this season so their chances of winning it all looks slim. However, a favorable schedule makes the sweet 16 very likely for the Big Red.
Butler is an interesting team that could make a push all the way to the final four. The injury to Arinze Onuaku of Syracuse can do nothing but help. Butler may be able to beat them when they get to the third round. Their first round match-up will probably be harder than their second round so the Butler Syracuse match-up might be the most inevitable one of the tournament. Bad news for the bulldogs though; they have lost to every top-25 team they have played this year except Ohio State (who did not have Evan Turner).
I still like their chances because they can beat University of Texas-El Paso, their first round match-up, and Purdue, the probable second round opponent (who don’t have Robbie Hummel). Can we say Déjà vu?
Last but not least look for Louisville to make some noise and be the first team to upset a number one seed in Duke. This is just a gut feeling on my part but I like the way this team plays against upper echelon talent, and what bigger stage than the NCAA tournament. Rick Pitino is a great coach who has a .745 win percentage in the tournament and is probably the second best coach in the dance other than Coach K.
With all the stats gathered and evaluations being done, I hope your brackets have the right teams slotted for victory and if all else fails pick the University of Connecticut women’s team to win it all.