March Madness Preview: Contenders, Flukes, and Teams to Watch

Jake LivinstonCorrespondent IMarch 13, 2017

Hey, college hoops fans, it's March Madness time. Time for buzzer beaters, upsets, great single-player performances, and, in the words of Dick Vitale, "a little dipsy-doo, slam-a-roo!"

With conference tournaments finishing and beginning, the field of 65 for the NCAA tournament is beginning to become more clear. Bubbles are popping and some are becoming more secure for the many teams vieing for a bid.

But with 65 teams in the tournament, how do you know which ones to pick for your bracket?

Well, this article will point out the contenders, the flukes, the teams to look out for, and the others.


This section will look at the contenders for the Final Four in Detroit.

North Carolina Tar Heels-North Carolina won the ACC regular season and will most likely get a No.1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Tar Heels can run with any team and can score with any team. They feature five double-digit scorers in Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Danny Green, Wayne Ellington, and Deon Thompson.

The Heels are the best in the country at rebounding and running. North Carolina is one of the most veteraned teams and their experience, along with Tyler Hansbrough, will push them into the Final Four.

Duke Blue Devils- It seems like the Blue Devils are always dancing in the Final Four. This year, they are contenders, but will have to beat a top team. Duke failed to beat North Carolina or Clemson and tied the series with Wake Forest.

If they are going to reach Detroit, the Blue Devils must play tight defense and get a big game from Gerald Henderson or Kyle Singler.

Pittsburgh Panthers- Equiped with the top RPI and ninth Strength of Schedule, Pitt is rolling into the Big East. They beat Marquette and Connecticut to finish out the season. Forwards DeJuan Blair and Sam Young are two of the top players in the Big East.

Blair, the Big East co-MVP is one of the best in the nation at dominating a game with his offense and defense. If the Panthers can get him going, look out!

Connecticut Huskies- If I can give any advice to opposing teams, DON'T DRIVE AT HASHEEM THABEET! The Big East defensive player of the year leads the nation in blocked shots. UConn is one of the most balanced teams, with their top four scorers within .5 points of each other. Thabeet, like Blair, can dominate a game.

Louisville Cardinals- When was the last time a team won their regular season conference title but was only the third-highest ranked team in their conference? I'm not going to look up the answer, but I doubt it has ever happened.

The Cards surprised the nation with their season and hope to keep up their success. Louisville can go inside to Terrence Williams or can shoot a three with Earl Clark, Edgar Sosa, Jerry Smith, Andre McGee, or others. They have proved that they can beat the top teams with wins over Pitt, Marquette, West Virginia, and others.

Other contenders: Oklahoma Sooners, Michigan State Spartans, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Purdue Boilermakers, Memphis Tigers


This list of teams are those who are candidates to be upset.

Clemson Tigers- Clemson is on this list for three reasons: They have lost to teams they should have beaten, haven't held leads, and don't have a great tournament history.

The Tigers suffered a loss to Virginia (10-17). They led Florida State by nearly twenty points but lost. Also, if you haven't heard, Clemson has started off hot, but have ended up disappointing.

Marquette Golden Eagles- When Marquette played UConn at home, senior guard Dominic James injured himself and the injury forced him to miss the rest of the season. Now Marquette has lost four straight and are really struggling. Teams may be able to jump all over their struggles.

Xavier Musketeers- The Musketeers could make a run in the tourney, but don't have enough big-game experience. Not playing in a big conference will make it harder for Xavier to win games against better teams.

Illinois Fighting Illini- Illinois took second in the Big Ten, but suffered too many losses to mediocre teams such as Michigan, Wisconsin, Penn State, and Minnesota. Though they have great defense, Illinois struggles if their offense isn't clicking. The most points they scored in a conference loss was 66, and they only scored 33 in a loss to Penn State.

Other Possible Flukes- Utah, Boston College, Washington, Syracuse

Cinderella Contenders

These teams are those who have chances at upsetting a team and, in some cases advancing to the Sweet 16.

Siena Saints- The Saints won the MAAC championship by defeating Niagara on Monday. Siena has the No.22 RPI and may be able to surprise a team. Kenny Hasbrouck is able to score on any given night and we all know about mid-majors having players shine in the tourney.

Michigan Wolverines- Michigan may not even make the Big Dance, but if they do, look out. They defeated both Duke and UCLA in the non-conference season and took down Purdue in a Big Ten game.

Forward Manny Harris is a great shooter and can slash into the paint. DeShawn Sims is one of the best post players in the Big Ten. With those two going, Michigan can take down another perennial power in the tournament.

Chattanooga Mocs- The Mocs were able to win the Southern Conference title over Davidson (or as I like to call them, the Curry's) and Charleston. With steam coming into the tournament, I like them as an upset bidder.

Boston College Eagles- The Eagles are also a bubble team, but they could make a difference if they receive a bid. They have beaten North Carolina and Duke. The Eagles know how to beat top teams and can do it in the tourney. After all, someone has to upset another team, and I like Boston College.

Other Possible Cinderellas- Northern Iowa and Virginia Commonwealth