For the next 23 days casual and enthusiastic NCAA Men’s Basketball fans alike will be under the spell of the bracket and glued to their television sets. Colleagues, friends and even President Barack Obama will sort through the 68 college hoops teams, bet in $5 and $10 pools and choose who they believe will go on a run and win the NCAA Championship. Using the art of “bracketology” fans and analysts hope to perfect their picks to win the ultimate cash prize and bragging rights amongst their peers.
But with no clear-cut favorite to dominate the tourney and five different teams (Indiana, Duke, Louisville, Michigan, Gonzaga) all holding the number one rank at some point during the season the 2013 tournament may prove to be the most erratic and challenging competition in the 75-year history of the tourney. “This is the most balance among the top 30 to 40 teams in the country,” renowned Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said to USA Today Sports. “There are a lot of teams out there as potential deep run teams in the tournament, much more – much more – than any other season that I can remember.”
With such a balance in competition and skill how is someone going to construct a perfect bracket and predict the NCAA champion? Here are some quick tips and teams that may make a potential run.
The Big Ten has been in a league of its own all season and it would be no surprise if Indiana, Michigan or Ohio State won it all. But the Wisconsin Badgers have remained under the radar and fought their way to the Big Ten Championship game. Win or not they have built up their resume and are a legitimate contender to make a deep run in the tourney. Lead by junior guard Ben Brust and senior forward Jared Berggren Wisconsin has proven they can matchup with any team in the Big Ten and have defeated the heavily favored Indiana Hoosiers.
Led by Coach K, Duke has built a reputation as a premiere basketball program and won it all during the 2010 NCAA tourney. But do not fall in love with the Blue Devils as they had a brief and disappointing appearance in the Atlantic Coast Conference and were eliminated by the Maryland Terrapins. Despite their 2010 title, Duke has struggled in the NCAA tourney recently and was eliminated in the first round in 2007 and 2012 and has not made it to the final four since 2004. The Blue Devils have no momentum heading into the 2013 tournament, rely too heavily on the three-pointer and should be avoided when filling out your bracket.
Even though the competition is so even Cinderella stories remain essential to tournament play and this year is no different. Two underdogs to watch out for are the Belmont Bruins and the Creighton Bluejays. The Bruins are the Ohio Valley Conference champions and are 17-2 since New Year’s Day. Senior guards Ian Clark
and Kerron Johnson average 30 points for the Bruins and comprise one of the most talented backcourts in the NCAA. The Bluejays are also getting hot at the right time winning five games in a row including a Missouri Valley Conference title. Although mediocre on defense, the Bluejays have superstar junior forward Doug McDermott, who scored 41 points in the title game against Wichita State.
With selection Sunday hours away and weeks of playoff basketball about to commence let the madness begin!