If you needed any further proof that this year’s NCAA College Basketball tournament is absolutely anyone’s to win then you must not have seen Michigan’s embarrassing loss to Penn State Wednesday night.#4 Michigan entered the game with hopes still alive of a Big Ten Title. Penn State entered the game with zero, yes I said, “zero,” Big Ten wins. The Wolverines led by double-figures in the second half yet still lost to the Nittany Lions.
Not to be outdone was #11 Arizona who was beaten by Pac-12 also-ran USC at home in the desert. The loss was a severe blow to the Wildcats’ chances of a regular season Pac-12 title.
#1 Indiana also lost this week on the road at Minnesota with the loss marking the third time this season that the Hoosiers were defeated as the nation’s top-ranked team. Here’s a little nugget for you March Madness bracket people out there; Nine other teams have had that dubious distinction as well and none have ever gone on to win the title.
Such is life these days in college basketball. You’d think after two straight years of Butler University making the National Championship game, we’d be more suited to this idea of ‘any given team’ for this year’s tournament. The fact is, I can’t recall a time when there were more teams with the potential to win six in a row in March and be crowned National Champs.
What is absolutely clear at this point is that if you break down the entire Top 25, there isn’t one team from 25 through 1 that doesn’t have an issue or two to be concerned about. Whether it’s Kansas, Duke, Gonzaga or Miami everyone has things these must deal with moving forward.
- Can Zeller and the Hoosiers close the deal if they are #1 heading into the tourney?
Here’s a list of the most recent favorites for the title and a comment on each.
Indiana 19/4 – How can we take the Hoosiers seriously with losses to Butler, Illnois and Minnesota all on neutral or away courts and with them being number one? I guarantee Tom Crean is praying they aren’t the number one seed in the tourney.
Florida 13/2 – The SEC is brutal so what does that say about the Gators? They’ve lost two of their last three and have allowed Kentucky and Alabama right back in the race for the league title.
Duke 17/2 – Coach K has the Blue Devils right where he wants them. Ryan Kelly will be back before the tournament and the team has a revenge game with Miami and a rivalry game with North Carolina remaining.
Miami 17/2 - Everyone wants to know just how serious we should take the Canes. If they win at Duke this weekend, there’s your clue.
Gonzaga 9/1 – The knock on the Zags is their RPI. That concerns me none. This team can go inside and outside and if there was ever a year for Mark Few to finally reach the Final Four, this is it.
Michigan 10/1 – Even the greatest NCAA champions have suffered horrible losses like Michigan did at Penn State but the more alarming thing is toughness they lack. I just can’t see this team winning six straight.
Michigan State 10/1 – Tom Izzo is still the coach of the Spartans. Translation: Never count them out of a potential run to the Final Four.
Kansas 12/1 – Look out! The Jayhawks have won five straight and have three average Big 12 teams to wrap the regular season. With K-State and Oklahoma State on their tail, an easy few wins is welcomed.
If you held my hand to the fire I’d say take Duke simply because of the return of Kelly and the fact they’ll be as battle-tested as anyone but don’t rule out the Hoosiers, the Spartans or the Jayhawks.