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COLUMN: Football is over, it’s time for March Madness

Livin' the Dream

Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 13:02

 

Now that Super Bowl Sunday is over and we’re all recovering from our unofficial holiday, we can turn our attention to the single most important sports holiday of the year: March Madness.

That’s right — 3-4 weeks of non-stop basketball, starting with conference tournaments.

It’s the best month of sports all year long, but especially this season.

Office pools, the stress of picking games in your bracket, the suspense of waiting to see how your picks hold up against the rest of the country: I just love it all.

Perhaps the best part of March Madness is the upsets.

Granted, odds are a power conference school still wins the national title, but everybody loves the Cinderella teams like George Mason, Butler and VCU that run with the “big boys” during March and capture our hearts.

Plus, someone forgot to tell the teams it’s still February.

We’re already seeing top-10 upsets by unranked teams — even though it’s power conference schools beating each other since it’s mostly conference play at this point — and there are numerous teams outside the “power 6” that are already making noise and giving us a preview of what’s to come next month.

Right now there are four teams — Gonzaga, Butler, New Mexico and Creighton — from non-power conferences ranked in the top-25, and eight others receiving votes.

In other words, plenty of the “little guys” are lining up at the castle for their chance to be Cinderella, and we’re already seeing the power schools struggle and be upset.

Could this be the year we see a 16-seed take down a No. 1? I wouldn’t rule it out.

Last season UNC-Asheville very nearly took down No. 1 seed — and No. 2 overall — Syracuse after some still-debated calls were made to allow the Orangemen to escape. The No. 16 seeds have had several close calls against the top seeds over the past 20 years, including a pair of one-point wins in 1989.

In 43 years of seeded tournaments, Villanova is the lowest ever to win it all after taking home the hardware as a No. 8 seed in 1985. Other than the Wildcats, three teams seeded lower than No. 3 have ever won it all: Kansas State and Kansas, both as No. 6 seeds, and Arizona as a No. 4 seed.

It’ll be a good long time before a low seed wins the entire tournament, if ever. But I’m also not ruling out the possibility this season of a No. 7 or No. 8 seed winning it all. Odds aren’t good, but that’s the beauty of the NCAA Tournament.

Any team can get hot and go on a winning streak to make the Final Four and potentially win it all.

 

– curtislundstrom@gmail.com

Twitter: @CurtisLundstrom

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