by Brendan Ripley-Barasch
It’s that time of year again. Millions of people nationwide are trying to piece together what they hope is the perfect bracket. No one has ever been able to predict every single game correctly, not the president, not any celebrity, and not even a professional college basketball analyst, it’s called March Madness for a reason.
It is near impossible to guess what upsets there will be and when they will occur, in the past there have been many “Cinderella Stories” and “Bracket Busters” in the tournament. Arguably the most notable Cinderella story came in 1983 when the North Carolina State Wolfpack led by coaching legend Jimmy Valvano entered the tournament as a 6 seed. They tore through the tournament, upsetting multiple teams, staging historic comebacks, and eventually advancing to the national championship where they were pitted against college basketball juggernaut Houston, led by such elite players as Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. The end of that game is one of the most famous endings in sport history. Viewer’s saw NC State’s Dereck Whittenburg throw up a prayer that air balled only to be caught by Lorenzo Charles and slammed home just before the buzzer sounded which gave NC State the win and the title. There is no telling who that Cinderella team will be this year, we will just have to wait and see.
This year’s tournament is especially interesting for one reason in particular. Throughout most of the regular season there was no clear number one team, it felt like every week the #1 team was being upset and multiple top ten teams continued to get knocked off as well. The parity of college basketball this year is unreal, it is hard to think of another season where it seemed that every team was so evenly matched against one another. In an article on ESPN.com titled The Floor Is Yours: Is this parity or bad basketball? Author Myron Medcalf gives an interesting statistic, “Through Jan. 22, The Associated Press poll’s top five teams had suffered 19 losses, a record for that stretch.” This fact is mind-boggling, just a short year ago it was clear to everyone who the best two teams were, with Kentucky finishing the regular season 31-0 and Duke going 35-4 and eventually winning the National Championship. Later in the same article, Texas Head Coach Shaka Smart is quoted saying, “There’s less of a difference between the top 25 and next 25 in a given week.” A question everyone has probably asked themselves at some point this year is if this is good or bad for college basketball?
The fact that every team seems so evenly matched just makes it that much harder to try to make that perfect bracket. One way to try to gain the upper-hand when putting together your bracket would be to seek advice online. There are thousands of websites out there that offer a multitude of different strategies, so you have to choose wisely. One of these articles giving advice is by Jon Solomon of cbssports.com and is titled 2016 March Madness bracket: 8 fast facts to help you win your tournament. Solomon provides his opinion which is put together with facts, statistics, and recent occurrences. Solomon’s number one fact is “National champs play offense and defense.” He backs this claim by saying, “Twelve of the past 13 National Champions finished in the top 20 of Ken Pomeroy’s offensive and defensive efficiency ratings.” Who knows if he is right or even if he will be of any help to you while you make your bracket, but you won’t know unless you try it.
It is highly unlikely anyone fills out a perfect bracket this year and even making a respectable one will be difficult. This year in college basketball has been a roller coaster and that in itself poses a problem. All we can do is hope luck is on our side this March, and even if your bracket doesn’t do that hot, you still get to sit back and watch some great basketball.