The Student News Site of Northern Michigan University

The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

Meet the Staff
Katarina Rothhorn
Katarina Rothhorn
Features Writer

The first message I ever sent from my Northern Michigan University sanctioned email was to the editor-in-chief of the North Wind asking if there was any way I could join the staff. Classes hadn't even...

The North Wind Editorial Sessions
About us

The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion — Its okay to outgrow your college friends
Opinion — It's okay to outgrow your college friends
Megan PoeApril 12, 2024

March Madness hits the nation again

For more than four months, America has been waiting patiently for the NCAA men’s basketball season to finally reach its conclusion, not because we don’t enjoy the regular season, but because we can all finally be assured of one thing: March Madness has once again returned.

With the exception of Super Bowl Sunday, the NCAA basketball tournament is simply the nation’s greatest event in sports. Sixty-eight teams are selected to play in the tournament for the right to be called the NCAA champion of basketball.

What makes this tournament so interesting is that each year the NCAA gives smaller schools, who are not considered to be the nation’s best, a chance to compete for the title. Some of those small schools have even made deep runs in the tournament.

In 2011, Virginia Commonwealth University completely stunned the No.1 seeded Kansas Jayhawks to crash into the Final Four. In 2006, George Mason made a run by upsetting Michigan State, North Carolina and Connecticut to make their very first Final Four appearance.

Story continues below advertisement

So what makes this year’s tournament even better than those in the past? There is no absolute favorite to win the tournament. Unlike last year, where no one was shocked with the outcome, this year is going to be stocked full of surprises. Of course, many will pick schools such as Duke, Indiana and Louisville to win the tournament, and rightfully so, but this year has upset-alert written all over it.

When the members of the NCAA selection committee finalized the field of play on Sunday, March 17, they came to the agreement that Louisville, Kansas, Gonzaga, and Indiana will represent the No. 1 seeds in the tournament.

While many could make the argument that schools such as Ohio State and Miami should have made it to the top, few can make a solid argument against the teams that were selected. The school I feel that is the most vulnerable as a No. 1 seed is Gonzaga. The Bulldogs earned the most wins throughout the regular season, but I really cannot wrap my head around the fact this school is a top seed. Sure, they are a good team, but not a great team.

Should a school that plays well in a terribly weak mid-major conference be praised more than a school that struggled in a more powerful conference? This is a tough situation to be in as a college basketball fan. I feel both Miami and Ohio State played a more challenging schedule and had more quality wins than Gonzaga.

While it is refreshing to see the first non-BCS conference team to finish No. 1 in the final poll, since Massachusetts earned the top rank in 1996, the Bulldogs were 1-2 against schools in the top 25. If Gonzaga is going to be ranked No. 1 in the nation, they should play consecutive games in the Big Ten or ACC conference. I have a hard time buying the idea that Gonzaga will find success after playing teams like Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan and Indiana with little rest in between those games.

While Gonzaga representing the west as a No. 1 seed raises a couple questions, the fact that Liberty University even made the field of 68 was nothing short of unexpected. The Liberty Flames were granted an automatic qualifying bid after winning the Big South Conference tournament but struggled throughout their regular season, finishing with a record of 15-20.

While Liberty is not the first team with a losing record to earn a bid into the tournament, this is one of the biggest flaws facing the NCAA tournament. I acknowledge that Liberty won the three games that they needed to win their conference tournament and get their tickets punched to the dance, my problem with Liberty is that they snubbed out teams like Virginia, Maryland and Tennessee, who may not have had a strong resume at the end of the season, but all three schools were over .500 and played against much stronger competition throughout the course of the entire season.

Now if you are a novice bracketologist, you should already know that you simply cannot pick all the higher seeds and expect to be successful. Only once in the history of the tournament have all four No. 1 seeds reached the final four. A good bracketologist must compensate for the occasional upset.

Last year, both Missouri and Duke, who were both No. 2 seeds, were upset by No. 15 seeds Lehigh University and Norfolk State University. Do not be surprised if a low seed sneaks by a tournament favorite. However, if you are an expert bracketologist, you already know that a No. 16 seed has never upset a No. 1 seed in the first round. While there have been some close calls in the first round of tournament, the No. 16 seeds are 0-112 all time in the tournament.

In last season’s tournament, Kentucky made it to the national championship match and knocked off Kansas by a score of 67-59. The taste of victory isn’t as sweet for the Kentucky Wildcats this year as they will miss the tournament altogether.

This is the third time in the last five years that the defending national champion will not make a championship tournament appearance the following year. The last team to not make it to the big dance after winning a championship was the 2010 North Carolina Tar Heels.

Kentucky also joins the 1987 Louisville Cardinals, the 1989 Kansas Jayhawks and the 2008 Florida Gators as the only NCAA champions to miss the tournament since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

I have never seen such an equal playing field among the top 15 teams in a single tournament before. With the exception of Gonzaga, every school either has had six or more losses or suffered a major loss at some point during the regular season. On top of all that, schools like Michigan, Duke and Georgetown made early exits in their conference tournaments.

While we have all been patiently waiting for this year’s madness to begin, picking this year’s champion is going to be as difficult as it ever has been, even for the experts. That is, however, all apart of the pageantry in the NCAA tournament.

It’s times like these when I really miss Octopus Paul.

More to Discover