The Student News Site of Clemson University

The Tiger

The Tiger

The Tiger

March Madness primed to be filled with unpredictability


Arguably nothing in the sporting world consistently transfixes sports fans quite like the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Colloquially and understandably known as March Madness or the Big Dance, the NCAA Tournament brings with it all of the frenetic, fast-paced excitement that embodies the essence of college hoops – and is the ultimate fan experience because of it. From the highly anticipated selection show to the abundance of thrilling upsets to the bracket picking contests that dominate college basketball fans’ lives for three weeks, March Madness has it all. And this year, it is setting up to be as mad as ever.

This college basketball season has been perhaps the most continually unpredictable as any season ever, with the level of parity in each major conference making for a regular season filled with ups and down and twists and turns every night. While there have been a handful of top-notch contenders who have played the part for the duration of the season, such as the Kansas Jayhawks and the defending champion Villanova Wildcats, many of the top tier teams that are now heading into the Big Dance endured their struggles off and on this season.

From the ACC Tournament champion Duke Blue Devils to the Pac-12 Tournament champion Arizona Wildcats, several of the nation’s powerhouses experienced lulls at times this year, contributing to the parity that became a mainstay of this college basketball season. Fully epitomized by the reality that the Vanderbilt Commodores shaped up as the first 15-loss team to receive an at-large bid into the Tourney, the 2016-2017 slate was as competitive and unpredictable as ever, which has March Madness primed to provide the same level of edge-of-your-seat excitement.

A byproduct of the one-and-done era, the glaring lack of veteran-laden rosters pertaining to some of the nation’s best teams contributed to the parity that was this college basketball season, as the abundance of freshmen playing the part of floor general on a game-by-game basis made for discontinuity in terms of caliber of play. With so many rosters in flux coming into this season due to last year’s mass exodus of talent to the NBA Draft, many of the nation’s most talented teams, with regard to NBA prospects, never came to fruition. For example, the Washington Huskies boasted perhaps the top NBA prospect in the nation in guard Markelle Fultz but were dreadful throughout the season, finishing as one of the bottom feeders of the Pac-12.

Serving as a microcosm of the paradox that is college hoops, the constant volatility in the polls and bracket projections that featured prominently this season should make for an intense tournament filled with upsets and close games has never been experienced before. The makeup of the tournament is the same as always, with 68 teams competing for the national championship. 

Eight teams will battle it out in what will effectively be four play-in games early on this week for a right to play in the Round of 64. Beginning with the Round of 64, the Tourney is broken up into three four-team tournaments, with the first and second rounds taking place at eight different locations across the country. At those locations are a couple of four-team pods based on seeding. Teams are seeded one through 16 in four different regionals, all reflecting the projected likelihood that each seeded team will advance as far as the Final Four. The rounds of 64 and 32 form the groundwork for the first week’s four-team tournament, which is followed by the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight at the regional sites the next week. The Final Four, slated to take place in Phoenix, Arizona this season, marks the most exciting event of the year for college basketball season, and it caps off March Madness on the final Saturday and Monday of the Tournament.

From bracket-busters to Cinderella teams to sleeper picks, the jargon is rich when it comes to the NCAA Tournament and understandably so. There is arguably no other sporting event that regularly captivates an audience like March Madness, especially in the opening round. With so many games occurring throughout the course of the day on the first Thursday and Friday, it sets the tone for the most frenetic tournament in all of sports. The NCAA Tournament selection committee likely had its hands full like never before this year, as the relatively even playing field and lack of clear-cut favorites probably made for an interesting seeding process. Therefore, nothing should be considered out of the question with regard to this year’s March Madness, as the unexpected should be expected. 

The madness will be in full force beginning on Tuesday and should not relent until the final buzzer sounds in the championship game. The field is wide open and the national title is up for grabs. Only one team will be able to overcome the parity and claim the throne, and a 68-team tournament built for shining moments will serve as the path to righteousness for the new kings of the college

basketball world.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Tiger

Your donation will support the student journalists of Clemson University . Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Tiger

Comments (0)

All The Tiger Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *