March Madness – the winners, the losers and the underdogs


Selection Sunday for March Madness starts on March 11. Two days later, the real action begins, as the first round starts up.

As selection Sunday approaches, college basketball teams all across the country are preparing for the annual national tournament. Spots in the tournament are limited, which drives coaches and players to play their best basketball in early March to secure their berth in the big dance. But which teams will go far in the tournament? Who has what it takes to be crowned the 2012 national champion?

The Powerhouse – Kentucky Wildcats

John Calipari, the head coach of Kentucky basketball, is known for recruiting talented freshman that enter the NBA draft a year after they’re recruited. This year is no different.

Calipari has assembled another team of talented underclassmen. Anthony Davis, a six-foot ten center, is the heart of the wildcats. Davis averages over five blocks per game, leading the entire NCAA. He also leads the Wildcats in rebounds, steals and points.

Other teams will have trouble penetrating Kentucky’s defense, as well as stopping their ferocious offence. Having only lost one game so far this year, the Wildcat’s will likely be the favorite to take home the championship.

The Underdog – St. Mary’s Gaels

St. Mary’s is a little school 20 miles outside of San Francisco in northern California. It has approximately 2,800 undergraduate students. It has a small gym that can barely sit 1,000 people. To the average eye, St. Mary’s would not have a nationally recognized basketball program. This season, however, the Gaels are currently ranked at the 16th best team in the country.

The Gaels have a very strong backcourt. Many consider junior point guard Matthew Dellavedova as one of the best guards in the nation. St. Mary’s averages 16.5 assists per game as a team. The Gaels also have dominant big men, with two players taller than seven feet.

The Experience – University of North Carolina Tar Heels

With five returning starters from last season, the Tar Heels are a force to be reckoned with. Harrison Barnes, an NBA lottery pick, has been the anchor for the Heels, shooting the three-ball nicely as the season has progressed.

UNC is one of the top five teams in the country in points, rebounds and assists. Their offence is tenacious. Every single player on the roster can penetrate, and shoot.

The Tar Heels have one major flaw. Dexter Strickland, a returning shooting guard for Carolina, tore his right ACL in a UNC win over rival Virginia Tech. He will miss the rest of the season. Strickland is a ferocious defender, and will be missed greatly by the Tar Heels.

The Loser – Duke Blue Devils

Although Duke is currently the fourth ranked team in the country, the Blue Devils have some flaws that will be impossible to overcome in March.

First, Duke has no go-to player. Austin Rivers, a freshman point guard at Duke, is a talented scorer. Rivers has extensive range, and is very quick on his feet. Currently, he is Duke’s go-to scorer. This responsibility, however, is too much for a freshman. In the big tournament, when the pressure is on, Rivers will fail.

Ball movement is another one of Duke’s flaws. The Blue Devils average a mere 13 assists a game, which is a statistic they will have to improve if Duke wants to go far in the tournament.