Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Man Advantage: Our First Look at March Madness

Lately I’ve been hearing a sound. It’s been quiet, but there’s no question what it is. It’s about that time of year again. Have you heard it too?

What am I talking about, you ask?

For the 75th anniversary of the March Madness, there have been countless articles and countdowns (ESPN is especially guilty) of top players, top teams, top moments, etc. This is also the last season of the Big East as we know it, as some of the traditional powers (Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame) are set to join the ACC and the Catholic 7 are splitting off from the remaining schools July 1st. Along with the ongoing search for a true #1 team, it’s clear that it’s a tumultuous time in college basketball. It’s clear that this will be a particularly mad March. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more first and second round upsets than normal. Here are a few teams to give a second look when making your bracket selections:

South Dakota State, 24-9 (13-3 Summit League)
Nate Wolters and company can simply shoot the ball, which is always a dangerous asset come March. This team kept it close against Baylor in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year, and are an experienced bunch. I remembered how explosive Wolters was last year, so I took advantage of the SDSU-New Mexico game being televised earlier this year. South Dakota State traveled to Albuquerque and made a huge statement, coming away with the 70-65 win.   And who doesn’t love a nickname like the Jackrabbits?

SDSU won the Summit League Tournament Tuesday night, earning the AQ berth.

Bucknell, 27-5 (12-2 Patroit League)
The Bison have one of the nation’s most efficient forwards in Mike Muscala, and fight from start to finish in each game. With wins over La Salle, New Mexico St, and Purdue this year along with a two-point loss at Missouri, this team has to believe they have a chance if they make the Big Dance. With doubts about C.J. McCollum’s health, it opened a door for this team. If Bucknell overcomes Lafayette tomorrow night, they’ll be a dangerous first round opponent.

Middle Tennessee St, 28-5 (17-1 Sun Belt)
I don’t care what conference you play in: a 17-1 record is impressive no matter what. Add in a high efficiency offense, wins over Vanderbilt and Ole Miss (along with close road losses against fellow mid-major threats Akron and Belmont), a 17-game win streak has this team primed to give someone a scare. Unfortunately, the Blue Raiders lost in the Sun Belt Tournament. They’ll be hoping for an at-large berth on Selection Sunday.

Southern Mississippi 23-8, (12-4 Conference USA)
When ESPN’s Jordan Brenner gave this team a 59.0 Giant Killer rating, my jaw dropped. This group finished the regular season second to a 16-0 Memphis squad in Conf USA, but their style of play is tailor-made for upsets. They have a high offensive rebounding rate, have the third highest steal rate in the nation, and play at a relatively slow pace. They are a highly efficient offense, ranking 12th in the nation in field goal percentage. If they make the NCAA Tournament, I’ll have a hard time not picking them to win a game or two.

Sadly, with James Madison getting the AQ bid from the CAA, I can’t see the Dukes getting anything other than a 16 seed and getting smashed by a Big Six conference power. Granted, with how forgettable this season has been, not only for our own Drexel Dragons, but also for the rest of the conference, all I want to do is forget and hope for something better from the CAA in 2013-14.

Who are you keeping an eye on going into Selection Sunday? Post your thoughts in the comments!


Ryan Pratt is a junior Sport Management major at Drexel University.  Ryan has past experience as manager for the Drexel men’s basketball team, Communications Assistant for University of Penn Athletics, and Administration Associate for the American Association for Cancer Research.  Currently, Ryan serves as President of the Drexel Interfraternity Council and Adviser to the Board of Directors for Lambda Chi Alpha.  Follow Ryan @LXAPratt.

Connect with Ryan Pratt on LinkedIn. 

No comments:

Post a Comment