March Madness Preview and Breakdown

Adam Hipsky

We are back in business. After a 714 day hiatus, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is back. 67 games. 18 days. All in one centralized hub, Indianapolis. The 68 team field has been released and as usual, the field will be separated into 4 regions, although every game will be in Indianapolis. Now, let’s dive into the field of 68.


West Region:  Headlined by the #1 overall seed, the 26-0 Gonzaga Bulldogs. The main storyline in this region is the top 4 seeds have all played Gonzaga throughout the regular season, and each has lost during that matchup. Something else to watch is the battle with Covid-19 within this region. Virginia and Kansas both got bounced in the midst of their conference tournaments and Kansas has already announced they will be without star forward Jalen Wilson. This will be interesting as both teams have difficult first-round matchups and could be primed for an upset early in the tournament. 


Player to watch: Jalen Suggs. Guard. Gonzaga

The freshman phenom who is sure to be a lottery pick in June has taken over the College Basketball landscape across the season. Suggs possesses arguably the best vision in College basketball and he is surrounded by plenty of playmakers and shooters, which is why Gonzaga heads into the tournament unscathed at 26-0. 


Team to watch: 

The obvious answer here would be the Gonzaga Bulldogs, however, we can dive more into a potential sleeper team and that is the Oregon Ducks. The Pac-12 regular-season champ will march into the Big Dance as a 7 seed with a tough first-round matchup against the VCU Rams. Oregon has some of the best front-court play in the country and is led by the 3x Pac 12 coach of the year Dana Altman. Altman always has his bunch ready to go heading into March and this year figures to be no different. Keep an eye on Chris Duarte for the Ducks. A do-it-all guard that can shine for the Ducks in the Big Dance. 


Upset Watch: 

#14 Eastern Washington over #3 Kansas 

#13 Ohio over #4 Virginia. 


South Region: Atop of the South Region, the Big 12 regular-season champions, the 22-2 Baylor Bears. However, watch out for the Purdue Boilermakers who rank in the top 25 of offensive and defensive efficiency. 


Player to watch: Duane Washington. Guard. Ohio State 

The 6’3 junior can do it all for the 2 seeded Buckeyes, averaging over 16 points a game. Washington is a flamethrower behind the arc and is a key reason why the Buckeyes head into the NCAA Tournament winners of 3 of their last 4. 


Team to watch: Ohio State 

When Ohio State is at their best, watch out because this team has shown flashes of being not only a #1 seed, but also the best team in the country. Duane Washington and E.J Liddell is one of the best duos in not only the Big Ten, but the country. The Buckeyes have struggled to put together a full 40 minutes but if they can work on closing out games, they have the potential to take down anyone in the country. 


Upset Watch:

#12 Winthrop over #5 Villanova

#11 Utah State over #6 Texas Tech


Midwest Region: 


Plenty to watch here but leading it off on the #1 line is the Illinois Fighting Illini. A preseason favorite to win it all led by Ayo Dosumnu and Kofi Cockburn, two All-Americans. Illinois is peaking at the right time and is arguably the hottest team in the country coming off a Big Ten Tournament Championship, with wins against 3 tournament teams, including two #2 seeds Iowa and Ohio State. 


Player to watch: Cade Cunningham. Guard. Oklahoma State 

The freshman phenom has been unbelievable with the Cowboys this season, leading them to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2017. Cunningham has been phenomenal averaging 20.3 points per game in addition to over 6 rebounds per game. A potential Sweet 16 matchup between Ayo Dosumnu and Cade Cunningham would undoubtedly be one of the best games all season. 


Team to watch: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets


Georgia Tech is in the same boat as Illinois, peaking at the right time. The Yellow Jackets winners of 8 straight are playing their best basketball of the year led by ACC player of the year, Moses Wright. Georgia Tech has a plethora of guys who can get it done which presents a nightmare potential round of 32 matchup against the top-seeded Fighting Illini. However don’t look past their Round of 32 opponent, the MVC Champions, the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers, as that will be sure to be a good one as well. Georgia Tech has their work cut out for them, in a loaded region but this team is playing great basketball and could be a tough out. 


Upset Watch:

#12 Oregon State over #5 Tennessee

#11 Syracuse over #6 San Diego State 


East Region: 


The most wide open region out of the four led by the #1 seed Michigan Wolverines. The Wolverines have taken a hit over the past week, losing star forward Isaiah Livers due to a stress fracture. He is unlikely to return for the top-seeded Wolverines in the NCAA tournament. Behind them you have SEC tournament  champion Alabama, Big 12 tournament champion Texas along with the Pac 12, ACC, and WCC tournament runner-ups in Colorado, Florida State and BYU. This region is absolutely loaded and with the loss of Livers for Michigan, anyone can come out of this one. 


Player to watch: Matt Coleman. Guard. Texas.

Matt Coleman has lived for the bright lights and the clutch moments all season long. He has come up big for the Longhorns all season long hitting big shot after big shot. Coleman leads an experienced and veteran-led Longhorns squad that already has a Maui Invitational championship as well as a Big 12 tournament championship under its belt this season, in large part due to Coleman’s presence down the stretch in big games. Matt Coleman is built for March. 

Team to watch: 

One of the most dangerous teams in the country when they are hitting their shots is the LSU Tigers. Freshman sensation Cam Thomas is a bucket-getter no way around it. Slotted in the 8/9 matchup against St. Bonnaventure is not an easy victory for LSU but if they are able to prevail, watch out if they match up with the top-seeded Michigan Wolverines. Trendon Watford and Javonte Smart are two other guys that compliment Cam Thomas in scoring the basketball to watch out for. LSU is a heavily overlooked team but if they are hitting their shots, watch out because no one in the country will be able to stop them defensively. LSU is a little bit of a liability on the defensive end, but if they are knocking down their shots, it won’t matter.


Upset Watch: 

#13 UNC Greensboro over #4 Florida State

#12 Georgetown over #5 Colorado