Adam Lis, Staff Writer
With the biggest tournament in sports right around the corner, the intensity of school spirit and historic rivalries will flourish as die-hard fans route their prestigious teams on while the “big dance” tips off. Forrest Gump’s mother once said “life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.” That seems to be the tradition with the March Madness tournament. Teams can seem amazing on paper but just not show up to play. We have seen it happen time and time again as certain teams dominate the entire season just to get upset in the tournament. Take a look at last year’s National Champion, the Kentucky Wildcats, who missed the tournament after running the show in 2012. Here’s a look at my thoughts for this year’s upcoming tournament. For starters let’s look at the three most overrated teams this season.
First are the Gonzaga Bulldogs. The Zags are currently ranked 1st in the country, however, they play in an extremely weak conference and have been known to get upset in past years. Their most recent relevant player to make it to the NBA was forward Adam Morrison, who at one time in his career was dubbed the best college basketball player that season. Unfortunately NBA stardom never really panned out for him. Look for Gonzaga to make it as far as the Sweet 16, but getting over that hump is highly unlikely.
Next is the Florida Gators, who are currently ranked 14th in the country. The problem is they have had an inconsistant year in the SEC and conference rival Kentucky is non-existent this season. In addition, the Gators were embarrassed and shocked by Arkansas mid-season. The SEC just isn’t the conference it was last year and with the majority of Gator losses occurring against conference teams, it doesn’t look good for the boys in blue during the tournament.
Last is the Louisville Cardinals, who are currently ranked 2nd in the country. The problem is the Big East has fallen apart. With the departure of Syracuse, Notre Dame, West Virginia and Pittsburgh to other conferences, the once great basketball conference is a thing of the past. The Cardinals were thought to be dominant this season coming off a Final Four appearance last year and having their star point guard, Russ Smith, once again they looked to coast through the Big East this season. But Louisville had three straight losses after being number one in the country. All of these losses were in conference as well and I just don’t see the Cardinals making it to the Final Four once again, even following their Big East Championship.
Now on the flip side, the underrated teams are the ones who do the real damage in the tourney. Here are my three sleeper picks.
First is Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are currently ranked 17th in the country and have had some impressive wins over Kansas State, Kansas and NC State. Additionally, they only lost to Gonzaga by one point. They are lead by star point guard, Marcus Smart, who is a NBA caliber player. The Big 12 has been a tough conference this season and I expect the Cowboys will go far in the tournament.
Another team is the Ohio State Buckeyes, who rank 7th in the country and are lead by Aaron Kraft, who is a solid point guard and floor leader. The Buckeyes made it to the Final Four last year and had big wins over Michigan and Michigan State. The Big 10 was the best conference this year, plus all of their losses were against ranked teams. I expect the Buckeyes to make some serious noise this March.
Last but not least is the Saint Louis Billikens, who rank 13th in the nation. This team has gone under the radar all season long while they played in the A-10 conference. However, this team has had some great wins this season, such as beating Butler three times, New Mexico by 14 points and VCU twice. Though they lack tradition or major star power, expect Saint Louis to be a bracketbuster during the tournament.