By Mason Steinberg
March Madness is the most exciting time of the year for basketball fans. The 68 team tournament also draws interest from people who would not usually follow college basketball. Filling out a bracket in early March has become as much a Springtime tradition as going on Easter egg hunts. The tournament field is revealed on Selection Sunday which is televised on ESPN.
Last year’s tournament ended with Villanova hitting a last second shot to defeat North Carolina in the national championship. However, there were many exciting games that led up to this moment. University of Northern Iowa may not be a big name school, but they were involved in the two best games of the tournament as the eleven seed. In the first round Paul Jeperson hit a half- court buzzer-beater to upset sixth seeded Texas. What makes this upset even crazier is Northern Iowa would not have even made the tournament had it not been for their buzzer-beater in the Missouri Valley Championship game. Three days later facing third seeded Texas A&M, Northern Iowa held a 12 point lead with 30 seconds left. Then, the unthinkable occurred, Northern Iowa fell apart and A&M tied to game. After one overtime the two teams were still tied, but after the second Northern Iowa lost a heart-breaker 92-88. Other notable thrillers were: (6) Notre Dame 76, (14) Stephen F. Austin 75 (second round), (12) Arkansas-Little Rock 85, (5) Purdue 83 (2 OT) (first round) ,(7) Wisconsin 66, (2) Xavier 63 (second round) (9) Providence 70, (8) USC 69 (first round) (8) Saint Joseph's 78, (9) Cincinnati 76 (first round).
This years tournament will be hard pressed to compare to last years excitement, but with March Madness you can never rule anything out Sophomore Wande Owens and Junior Ryan Davis were in agreement about their pick to win the championship, “Kansas is by far the best team in the country” exclaimed Owens. Davis agreed, “They definitely know how to win big games and even if they are down they know how to comeback and win”. Last week Kansas overcame a 14 point deficit with three minutes left to defeat ninth ranked West Virginia. There are plenty of games left in the regular season but as of now here is the bracket as projected by USA Today. The paper projects Villanova, Baylor, Gonzaga, Kansas as the favorites. A popular dark horse pick is West Virginia. While it is unknown what the actual seeds will be, these are the best projections for what the tournament field will look like.