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A Collegiette’s Guide to March Madness

March is here, and that can only mean one thing: March Madness is upon us! With such a rollercoaster ride of a College Basketball season, there’s no telling what’ll happen in the NCAA tournament this year. The brackets came out on Sunday as well as the 68 teams chosen to compete. Here’s your guide to March Madness 2016:

Your North Carolina teams:

UNC, Duke, UNC-W, and UNC-Asheville are all in the tournament this year (sorry NC State). No. 4 Duke and No. 13 UNC-W will face off first while No. 1 UNC will play a No. 16 to start. UNC won the ACC regular season this year and the ACC tournament and are one of the favorites to win it all. Duke is also a favorite to make it far in the tournament. Duke won the NCAA tournament last year, but Duke’s tournament journey hasn’t always been easy. In 2012 Duke joined the short list of teams who were ranked No. 2 and lost to a No. 15 team. In 2014, they joined another short list of losers as they were ranked No. 3 and lost to a No. 14. UNC-Asheville has made a few good runs at the tournament, almost upsetting a No. 1 in 2012. 

What to look out for:

1.) UNC making it to the final dance. 

UNC is playing their best basketball right now and just came off a conference win against No. 1-seed Virginia. If everyone stays healthy, UNC will make a good run for the title.

2.) Another Duke-upset, or a sneaky Duke victory.

This hasn’t been a consistent year for the devils. While they’ve beaten big teams, they’ve also lost to unranked teams. It’ll be tough for them to get past UNC-W, especially with their track record of losing in the first round. On the other hand, Duke is in, arguably, the weakest region in the tournament. They’ve beaten big teams before, so they may sneak their way to the final four.

3.) UNC-W upsetting Duke.

Anything is possible during March Madness.

4.) No. 15 UNC-Asheville upsetting No. 2 Villanova.

UNC-Asheville almost beat a No. 1 team, so why can’t they beat a No. 2? Villanova plays in a weak conference, and the haven’t exactly preformed well in the tournament in recent years. Can UNC-A pull off another No. 15 vs. No. 2 upset? 

Will this be the year a No. 16 beats a No. 1? 

A 16-seed has never beaten a 1-seed. Never. There have been a couple of times where it’s been close. A home state shout-out goes to Western Carolina who lost by two points against 1-seed Purdue, and another shout-out goes to UNC-Asheville who almost upset 1-seed Syracuse in 2012.

If a 16-seed has never beaten a 1-seed, so why would things be any different this year? Well, this year has been one of the craziest college basketball seasons of all time. This year, none of the No. 1 seeds have lost fewer than four games. This is the third time since 1985 this has happened. During the same week, 16 of the AP Top 25 teams lost a game. Duke dropped out of the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2007. The AP Top five teams lost the most games before February in Men’s Basketball history. Needless to say, it’s been madness all year. Who knows what March is going to bring. 

What to look out for:

1.) Oregon is the weakest No. 1 out of the four.

If you were to bet against any team, they’re your best pick.


2.) Upsets across the board.

March is the month of upsets. No one is safe, especially not this season.

The Selection Committee has a sense of humor.

A loud groan could be heard throughout Virginia on Sunday as it was announced that Michigan State was not only in their region, but the No. 2 seed to Virginia’s No. 1 seed. Why is this funny? While Virginia is ranked higher than MSU, they were also ranked higher in 2014 and 2015. In both years MSU upset Virginia before they could make it to the regional final. 

What to look out for: MSU upsetting Virginia for the third time.

Who’ll be this year’s Cinderella?

What does it mean to be a Cinderella team? A Cinderella team is the team or teams that are low-seeded teams that make the most unexpected tournament run. They capture our hearts because who doesn’t root for the underdog? In 2013 it was Florida Gulf Coast University. Until 2013, no No. 15 team had ever won two games in the tournament. We fell in love with FGCU, the team that not only upset one NCAA tournament team, but two! Also in 2013, VCU stole our hearts when they came out and demolished their competition. Ranked No. 11, the Rams made it all the way to the final four. Their coach, Shaka Smart, was the star of the show as he proved that his No. 11 team could beat the odds. Davidson in 2008 created a legend. You’ve heard of Steph Curry, right? Well he wasn’t really on anyone’s radar until he took his No. 10 team to the Elite 8. Averaging 34 points per game in the first three games of the tournament, this was when Steph Curry became a household name.

What to look out for:

Who’ll be this year’s Cinderella team? No. 13 UNC-W could make a run at it. With backcourt duo Chris Flemming and Denzel Ingram averaging double-digits each, and senior guard Craig Ponder averaging 40 percent from the three-point line in their wins, UNC-W will give someone a hard time in the tournament. Another potential Cinderella team could be No. 12 South Dakota State. Who doesn’t want to root for a team whose mascot is a jackrabbit? The jackrabbits have a trio of talented scorers that combine for an average of 44.8 points per game. Perhaps another team will take the Cinderella title this year. If the glass slipper fits…

If you’re making a bracket, good luck.

This would not be the year you’d actually want to bet money on your NCAA Tournament bracket. As previously stated, this year’s College Basketball season has been one for the books. This year’s season has broken records and no one was safe from an upset. No one stands out this year. Last year we had Kentucky who was undefeated going into the tournament. They were easily most people’s pick to win it all. We saw what happened there though, and it’s not surprising as we learn year after year that the team with the best record doesn’t always win it all.

This year, the playfield is very even. At this point, anyone can win the title, even a Cinderella team. If you’re making out a bracket, use logic, but also don’t be afraid to pick the underdog. With the top teams losing the most games ever before February this year, picking a lower-ranked team to win may actually be more logical at times than picking the higher seed. Overall, just go with your gut, but don’t be surprised if someone like Florida Gulf Coast University busts your bracket.

What to look out for: your bracket being busted in the first round.

General things to look out for in the tournament:

1.) Blue bloods. While the greatest College Basketball rivalry is between UNC and Duke, there is some bad blood between other blue teams. Kentucky and UNC have a long history together. In 2000 UK upset a No. 6 Carolina team in a blow out early season game. In 2005 UNC got revenge with an upset win against No. 10 UK. In 2009 UK won by only two, but the winning free-throws came from John Wall, a Raleigh native who dreamed of playing for Carolina but ended up not getting a scholarship offer. UK won again in 2011, this time in the NCAA tournament. The rematch came a few months later with UK coming out on top. UNC finally got revenge in 2013. This year, UK and UNC are in the same region, and it’s predicted that they’ll see each other in the Sweet 16. 

2.) Shaka Smart. The coach of Texas did it once when he carried his VCU team to the final four. Texas has already beaten big teams this year. They took down UNC in the final seconds, Iowa State, West Virginia, Baylor, and Oklahoma. Ranked No. 6, Texas could be trouble for some teams.

3.) Tom Izzo. The head coach for Michigan State is an NCAA Tournament master. His three straight final four streak in 1999-2001 is the third longest of all time, and his six Final Four appearances in 1999-2010 is a record no team has matched. He’s taken his team to the tournament 16 straight times. Izzo’s coaching performance shouldn’t be overlooked.

4.) Chattanooga. This is another team that could be a Cinderella team. Chattanooga is a tough team that has some pretty solid wins. The Mocs beat Dayton on the road, a No. 7 seed in the tournament. They’re a veteran team. Five out of eight of the Mocs players in the conference championship game were juniors, and the other three were seniors. While this is their coach’s first year as head-coach, he’s considered a hot young coaching prospect. They don’t have the resume as other teams in this tournament, but they’re a team that should be taken seriously.

5.) Perry Ellis, Kansas. It seems like Perry Ellis has been at Kansas forever, and it doesn’t help that he looks about 40 years old. Regardless, he’s a senior and putting up big numbers for No. 1 seed Kansas. He averages 16.7 points per game, shoots 52.3 percent from the field, and has scored in double digits all but two games this year. Kansas may not have the star-power other championship winners have had in the past, but Perry Ellis and Kansas are a good candidate to win it all.

Play-in games start Tuesday and Wednesday, and the first-round of the tournament starts Thursday at noon. Get your brackets ready! This could be the wildest March Madness yet!









Taylor currently works in television production in New York City. Her current project was for a Sesame Work Shop show called 'Helpsters' that is now streaming on AppleTV. While at Appalachian State University, Taylor majored in Film and Creative Writing. She enjoys reality TV, college basketball, binge-watching Netflix, eating Mexican food, and cuddling with her cats. Her dream is to be a television show writer. For inquries, she can be reached at taylorpdills@gmail.com https://www.linkedin.com/in/taylordills/