The Will OC Sporting Event Power Rankings:
1. FIFA World Cup
2. Summer Olympics
3. NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament
4. Everything Else
As the only event that happens every year, I have been counting down the days until March Madness starts ever since the New England Patriots won Super Bowl LI. March Madness has everything you could want and more. Drama, upsets, mascots, crying flutists, buzzer beaters and the “I called that last week.” from your co-worker when a #12 seed inevitably plays their way into the second weekend.
After a regular season that was filled with parity and where no one has rightfully separated themselves from the pack like in years past, we could be heading towards the most maddening March Madness ever. Sunday night’s Selection Show set the stage and before we jump into our own predictions before the tournament kicks off on Thursday, here are the main pre-Madness headlines…
Nova is #1
The defending champion Villanova Wildcats enter this year’s tournament as the overall #1 seed but no team has repeated as NCAA Champion since Florida went back-to-back in 2006/2007. The Gators are just one of the teams that make up a stacked East Region, with Duke, Baylor, Florida, Virginia and Wisconsin creating the toughest road to the Final Four for a #1 seed. Congrats Villanova, you earned it.
West is best
US News ranks colleges each year and in their latest National University Rankings, four teams from the West Region fall in the Top-15. Princeton, which is a #12 seed after winning the Ivy League, is the top ranked university in the country. Northwestern, who is making their first NCAA Tournament appearance this year, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt are in the Top-15. Only a few other schools in the Top-25 of US News’ rankings are participating but Duke, UCLA and USC are scattered in other regions.
#12 seed guarantee
In 25 of the last 28 years, a #12 seed has defeated a #5 seed and that is easily the sexiest upset pickers try to predict each year. The underdogs that have advanced past the opening round haven’t lasted much longer though, as #12 seeds have only won one out of their last 20 Sweet Sixteen games. So plug Princeton, they’re smart remember, or UNC Wilmington into the Second Round and then jump off the bandwagon.
Coaching experience that is. 15 of the last 17 NCAA champions have had coaches with previous Final Four experience at the helm. That is good for teams like Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky and even Michigan State. That is bad for teams like Gonzaga, Arizona, Baylor and UCLA.
Wild about them Cats
There are five schools, Kansas State, Kentucky, Northwestern, Villanova and Arizona, that utilize “Wildcats” as their team nickname. With two #2 seeds, Arizona and Kentucky, and the overall #1 seed, the odds that a bunch of Wildcats are cutting down the nets in Phoenix next month should be high, right? All three of the top ranked Cats won their conference tournaments this weekend and one of those teams is Will OC’s pick to win it all. More on that later this week though…