Every year, as springtime rolls around, basketball lovers throughout the world feel that familiar twinge of excitement that only March madness can bring. Widely considered as being the peak of the college basketball season, the tournament pitches America’s greatest Division I teams against each other, all in a battle for the right to be named NCAA champion.
While in the NBA playoffs it’s not uncommon to have a long-winded series that lasts for several weeks, the NCAA operates on a different rule system. Teams only get one game to better their adversaries, so each match is approached with a winner-takes-all mentality. This can lead to some pretty exciting clashes, while also allowing youngsters to showcase their prodigious skills before achieving fame and fortune in the NBA. So let’s take a closer look and see what makes the 2019 edition of March Madness so special:
Every year, teams that are evenly matched get drawn together, practically ensuring a close contest filled with plenty of breathtaking moments. This time, it’s second-seeded Tennessee and third-seeded Purdue that are on a collision course to see whether attack really is the best defense. Duke and Virginia Tech are another two powerhouses that are sure to raise a storm, especially since the former has Zion Williamson, universally considered to be one of the best NBA prospects in years.
Speaking of NBA prospects, Zion Williamson has drawn comparisons to Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant in terms of his on-court impact, but he’s far from the only player to already look destined for greatness. Ja Morant is a sophomore who’s been turning a lot of heads with his play as of late, while RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish both have valuable facets to their games that are likely to translate to the pros. And let’s not forget Bol Bol, Manute Bol’s son, who headlines one of the tournament’s premier underdogs – the Oregon Ducks.
It’s often said that it’s more fun to root for David than Goliath. While March Madness has plenty of favorites that could go on to win it all – your Dukes, Kentuckys and Virginia Techs – there are several teams that stand a good chance of making a Cinderella run through the tournament. Among potential spoilers, we have UC-Irvine, who get by on team play and strong defensive effort, and Wofford, a small-league school who stand a legitimate chance thanks to senior guard Fletcher Magee. And then there’s Abilene Christian, whose basketball program has experienced a meteoric rise in just a few short years.
The NBA is a player’s league first and foremost. While some coaches do achieve high levels of notoriety, most tend to take a backseat to the players they employ. The situation is reversed in college basketball. Here, the relative scarcity of high-level talent ensures that tactics and system play are essential for optimizing a team’s chances to go all the way. Among some of the most noteworthy clipboard holders this year, we’ve got John Beilein of Michigan, John Calipari of Kentucky and the eternal Mike Krzyzewski of Duke, who surprisingly hasn’t made it to a Final Four since the halcyon days of 2015. Could this be his year?
Last but not least, March Madness brings with it the perfect opportunity to try your hand at being the sports version of Nostradamus. While getting a perfect bracket is incredibly unlikely, the sheer fun of filling in your own losers and winners makes for a really fun activity, whether you put money on them or not. For added entertainment, be sure to get the best odds and compete with your friends and family to see who gets the most matches right.
All in all, this edition of March Madness promises to be one for the ages. Whatever your reasons for tuning in are, you can expect plenty of fireworks and more than a few surprises. It also works as a fine precursor to the NBA playoffs, which this year are set to start in mid-April, right after the conclusion of the NCAA tournament.