The Madness of This Year's March Madness: It's Cinderella Time

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The Madness of This Year's March Madness: It's Cinderella Time
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The clock will not strike midnight anytime soon for Cinderellas with hopes of making NCAA tournament runs this year.

Unlike last year, when Kentucky was the clear-cut favorite with only two losses, this year is possibly the widest open it has ever been.

Five teams have earned the honor of holding the No. 1 spot in the AP poll, with the top spots switching in and out on a weekly basis. In fact, Gonzaga is the only school that is undefeated within conference play.

Not only are the top-tier teams a mess, but a much larger than usual number of bubble teams are fighting to get into the dance.

Since the wealth has been distributed among most of the teams this season, local teams such as Temple, Villanova and La Salle not only have a chance to make the tournament, but to make deep runs as well.

On top of the local schools to get excited about, Philadelphia will also play an important role in the tournament by hosting the second and third rounds of the East Regional at the Wells Fargo Center.

With all the chaos within the standings in college basketball this year, there is no doubt that this madness will transfer over to March. Last year was the first time in tournament history that two 15 seeds knocked off two 2 seeds in the same year, with Norfolk State beating Missouri and Lehigh beating Duke.

Could this be the first year that a 16 seed performs the unthinkable and defeats a top-ranked team?

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This year’s tournament could take last year's second-round upsets one step further, with potential No. 1 seed Miami having already lost to Florida Gulf Coast and Wake Forest, and Kansas having lost to TCU.

From the perspective of an average fan filling out a bracket, this year is as unpredictable as ever when deciding what teams to pick. Choosing an abundance of upsets may be the most logical strategy, yet this year has also taught us to have no confidence in any single team.

Much of the bracket process is random anyway, with no true strategy leading to consistently successful picks.

Listening to so-called college basketball "experts" will not help in the slightest when trying to win a company pool.

Even though the college basketball regular season is a whole different animal than March Madness, it is still difficult for any team to string a group of wins together.

The difference in atmosphere could also affect the ability of teams to make a tournament run. Since most rounds are played in mainly neutral sites, teams don’t have the advantage of thousands of hyped-up college kids in their support.

For this reason, teams cannot ride home-court advantage like in the regular season, and they must deal with playing games in less college-dominant scenes.

The college basketball world shouldn’t be surprised if a mid-major team gets hot at just the right time this year and disposes of multiple powerhouses. Just ask the mid-major Butler Bulldogs, a small Indiana school that made the finals twice in a row in 2010 and 2011 as 5 and 8 seeds respectively.

 

There are a number of historically smaller basketball schools to watch as March progresses this time around, with Butler, Gonzaga, Saint Louis and VCU all notably having successful regular seasons.

It is true that March only gets to have the name ‘madness’ added to it for every great upset: from Northern Iowa beating Kansas in 2010 to George Mason beating UConn in 2006.  

The NCAA tournament is great because of these runs from unexpected schools coupled with big-time upsets from otherwise unheard-of schools.

With a combination of zero dominant teams and many hungry Cinderellas, this year’s March Madness is ready to make mayhem in the sports world.  

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