By Nathan Easington, Contributing Writer
Posted 12:55 AM EST, Wed., March 15, 2017
The month of March is one tailor made for basketball and college sports fans. Sixty-eight teams, six rounds, one loss and it’s all over. The perfect combination of skill, great coaching and luck are essential for progressing through each game, leading to the tournament that is set to start Mar. 14.
Duke, Villanova, North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky and Gonzaga are the prospective teams that have a chance to make it to, at least, the Elite Eight, if not the championship game, every year. Between their historic coaches and almost impenetrable recruiting classes, it is a safe bet to find at least one of the teams in the later rounds of the tournament.
Mike Krzyzewski, current head coach of the Duke Blue Devils, has led the team to a 23-8 record this season. Despite having had back surgery earlier in the year, resulting in him missing four weeks of the season, the Blue Devils are still ranked 14th in the nation. This is a fairly low ranking for one of the “top teams,” especially when compared to the other mentioned teams, as their losses are between one and eight. However, even with a low ranking, they are still contenders for the later games in the tournament, having recently pushed a game with the sixth ranked North Carolina Tarheels to its final minutes, ultimately resulting in a 90-83 loss for Duke.
As for Villanova (28-3), North Carolina (26-6), Kansas (28-3), Kentucky (26-5) and Gonzaga (30-1), these teams have stayed the course this season. Never dropping too low in rankings, these teams, for the most part, only lost games to the other teams in this category or other highly ranked teams.
As for the teams who aren’t currently in the spotlight, but who have been on a recent streak of winning, can’t be excluded completely as the best tournaments are the ones filled with upsets.
The Northwestern Wildcats, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Iowa State Cyclones and Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders are teams that have shown promise and determination in the past weeks to compete come time for the tournament. Northwestern, a team that has never been to a tournament, have a current record of 21-10, beating opponents like Michigan and Rutgers and only narrowly losing to giants like Purdue and Indiana.