So it’s almost March, the holiest month on the college basketball calender. It is in the coming 31 day window that the famed Big East Tournament will be held in Madison Square Garden, the fates of bubble teams and NCAA Tournament seedings will be revealed on one glorious Sunday, and folks across America will fill out brackets upon brackets before the marathon that is the best postseason in sports commences. The 2014 College Basketball season is still a decent distance from its grand crescendo, but you can sense that every game, from the ACC to the Ivy League, carries a bit more weight now. So, without further ado, I present to you a jumbled mess of college basketball thoughts as we march into March. Enjoy!
- This has the potential to be a banner March for mid-majors. There is truly an abundance of terrific mid-major teams this year. Wichita State and San Diego State are legitimate national title contenders. New Mexico, Harvard, Gonzaga, and Green Bay are all teams capable of making deep runs also. And then there’s the Atlantic 10, with its glut of outstanding teams. It’s hard to even label the conference a mid-major conference; St. Louis, UMass, VCU, GW, and St. Joe’s are all very good teams.
- Remember when Rick Pitino kicked Chane Behanan off Louisville’s team in late December and it looked the defending champs, who were dealt two losses over a four game stretch, might be poised to fall off the map? Well, look at the Cardinals now. Louisville is, once again, one of the hottest teams in the nation entering March. They are currently fresh off a hugely impressive road win over Cincinnati–their 10th win in their last 11 games.
- Another one of the hottest teams in the country: Virginia. The Cavaliers are riding a winning streak that started back in the middle of January and lately have just been crushing teams. While they don’t have anywhere close to the offensive firepower of last year’s Miami team, it’s easy to draw comparisons between that Hurricanes team and the Cavs this year. They’re super-tough defensively (leading the nation in opponents’ points per game at 54.7) and now sit atop the ACC standings. Their battle with Syracuse this Saturday is going to be so #clutch.
- How about Creighton fellas? The Bluejays, who have blown out Nova TWICE, average 18 assists per game! If their defense holds up in March, they could go deep.
- Jamie Dixon’s Pitt team remains a bit of an enigma. The 21-7 Panthers play smart, physical basketball on both ends and have the look of a team built for March. But then there’s the fact that their best wins are over Clemson and Stanford. In spite of their dearth of marquee wins, it’s hard to see Pitt on the wrong side of the bubble come Selection Sunday barring an epic collapse. On the other hand, it will be hard to peg Pitt for a deep run in the tourney unless they grab some big wins in the ACC Tournament. They do pass the eye test though.
- Now let’s move over to Pitt’s last opponent, Boston College (the team I’ve rooted for since I was eight or nine years old). The Eagles are horrendous. Sure, their win over Cuse was stunning and they played their hearts out in the Carrier Dome. But they followed it up with a 69-42 (!!) loss to Miami. The closest thing the Eagles will possibly get to a Cinderella story this March would be if they managed to finish with double digit wins. 😦