Get ready — Men’s NCAA is wide open!

FitzbeatsquareMany have been waiting in anticipation for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. It’s that time of year. Spring is around the corner, and nothing gets you more excited than watching the field of 68 march one game at a time to the Final Four.

This year, college basketball saw some strange happenings. Since November, the No.1 team in the nation changed seven times.

The top 10 teams in the nation combined lost 74 games. That’s the most since the Associated Press started the weekly top 25 in 1948. For the first time ever, no team in the nation lost fewer than four games. Remember just last year when Kentucky was undefeated at 36-0 starting the NCAA tournament?

Some complain that too many talented players are leaving school too soon after one year, and that it hurts both the college game and the NBA. Are we seeing the erosion of college basketball because players are more often than not one year and done?

It’s America, and last I heard you don’t get paid to play basketball in college other than the value of the scholarship. If a student athlete is talented enough to gets millions in the NBA, why not?

Timberwolves stars Karl Anthony Towns and Tyus Jones and several others decided the opportunity was right. After one year in college, they were off to the NBA. I wonder why you never hear that same argument made in baseball and hockey where players are drafted all the time in high school.

Kansas from the powerful Big 12 Conference was regular-season and tournament champions and is the No. 1 team in the 68-team NCAA field. Yet the NCAA Committee punished them, putting them in the strong South region with previous No. 1 Villanova, Iowa who beat Michigan State twice, and Maryland.

North Carolina, Oregon and Virginia are the other No. 1 seeds. Michigan State, the Big Ten Tournament Champion, was given a No. 2 seed. The Big Ten had seven teams but no No. 1 seed.

Kentucky, a Final Four team in 2015, is seeded 4th, and they won the SEC Championship. Defending champion Duke lost 10 games this year, and Wisconsin, the NCAA runner-up last year, again qualified for the field.

Oklahoma, West Virginia, Virginia and Oregon are all very capable of getting to Houston for the Final Four. So get your NCAA bracket ready — this tournament really gets people excited. Billions of dollars are spent on office pools and tournament bracket sheets through wagering legally and illegally.

It does not seem to matter — the NCAA tournament creates what can best described as March Madness. People become consumed with this fever for trying to hit the jackpot. Billionaire Warren Buffet in recent years has even awarded his employees between $100 and $300,000 to anyone who can pick every game from the 68 team field correctly.

Good luck. I really believe this year is wide open to whoever gets hot.

 

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

 

About Larry Fitzgerald

Larry Fitzgerald is a longstanding contributing columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. He can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday and Friday at 9:10 am, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

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