Good news sports fans! The madness has finally arrived! Bad news though, your grandma probably has the same odds of picking as good if not a better bracket then you if she were to choose teams based on their names/mascots/colours without any sort of basketball research at all. With that being said, I’m here to preview #MarchMadness 2016. From snubs to surprises we will go through it all to get you set up for upsets, buzzer beaters and Cinderella’s.
RLGT MARCH MADNESS 2016 PREVIEW
How To Enjoy, Properly.
In case this is your first time watching, there is a couple things you should know. Firstly, games run all day and night, so consider your school/work focus 98.671% gone for the next couple weeks. CBS has the stream on its website (US citizens only), but free internet add-on’s like “Hola” on chrome can give you a US IP address. Plus, the great thing is that CBS offers the “boss button” which displays some spreadsheets and calculations/notes to make it look your working when the man comes for a stroll past your computer. TSN has pretty much every game for the whole tournament in Canada as well, or you can stream the games online via some other options….
We won’t be getting into who got snubbed (*cries* 27-7 Monmouth *cries*) or who was given the golden ticket to the big dance when they probably shouldn’t be there (*cough* 19-13 Syracuse *cough*) because to be totally honest, I could throw 47 different stats and justifications in this article, but come Thursday morning records and matchups over the season are irrelevant, it really just comes down to who can hit the BIG SHOTS to keep their seasons alive.
Side Note: For snacking and other enjoyment tips for the Nat’l Final, see our Super Bowl 50 Guide!
With this being the most even playing field in recent memory, basically any time not a 16 seed isn’t a bad pick for a Cinderella team (i.e. the underdog that comes up big when it counts). My pick for Cinderella is Maryland, while not a true Cinderella as a 5 seed, not many people have them playing for the national title like I do. I think Melo Trimble can get hot and win them a couple close games, and knock off #1 overall seed Kansas who has struggled for whatever reason in recent tournaments.
Another low-ish seed to watch is Cal. Although they have not had a great season, they still averaged 75 points/game on the 15th hardest schedule in the country, if senior Tyrone Wallace can stay hot, the Golden Bears have a chance to make the south region interesting and bust some brackets early on.
The final team that can make a run is Seton Hall. After winning the Big East conference tournament, they have proven they can rise to the occasion and are getting hot at the right time of year. Combine that with vastly underrated forward Angel Delgado and first round NBA talent Isaiah Whitehead, and the Pirates have potential to make the final 4 and eliminate my pick Michigan State in the process.
For a true Cinderella team, I like 11 seed Gonzaga and 10 seed Pitt. Gonzaga never receives the respect they deserve, due to the fact that they play in a weak conference. I think they will definitely catch a few teams and analysts by surprise by how well they play. Plus Kyle Witjer is Canadian, and if he plays lights out, the Zags could make a run. Pitt on the other hand recently beat Duke and if they can beat Xavier in round 2, the road is wide open for them to play UNC in the Elite 8.
Canadian Talent To Watch █♣█
The biggest name Canadian in the tournament is freshman Jamal Murray of Kentucky. The 26-8 Wildcats are lead into the tournament by probable top 10 NBA pick in Murray who had a slow start, but has really came alive the second half of the season. Murray has averaged 20.1 points/game while playing 35.2 minutes/game for Kentucky, plus it helps form the best backcourt in the country along with Tyler Ulis and Isaiah Briscoe. If Kentucky wants to be a serious national championship contender, Murray will have to elevate his play even more throughout the tournament, especially with teams like Xavier, North Carolina and Indiana in the region.
Oregon has 2 extremely talented in forwards Dillon Brooks (Mississauga, Ontario) and Chris Boucher (Montreal, Quebec) who have been instrumental in the Ducks winning the Pac-12 regular season and conference tournament, and ultimately securing Oregon the #1 seed in the West region. In my opinion, the Ducks will need these two Canadians to step up their games and be Oregon’s best players if the Ducks want to do some serious damage in the tournament.
Gonzaga again features some Canadian talent in 6’10” Kyle Wiltjer and sophomore guard Dustin Triano. Gonzaga has been known to feature Canadian talent and was the #1 overall seed a few tournaments back with Canadians Kelly Olynyk and Kevin Pangos leading a high-flying offence. Gonzaga probably isn’t a final 4 threat this year, but if Wiltjer can have a strong tournament, the Zags have a chance to bust a few brackets in the opening weekend (…including mine).
Senior Dyshawn Pierre from Whitby, Ontario is back again to lead the Dayton Flyers into a highly anticipated matchup with Syracuse. Pierre has been a Canada basketball star and won a bronze medal with #1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett at the U-17 world championships 6 years ago. Pierre is not going to be turning heads with flashy play, but his consistent play and 13 points/game average should help Dayton win a couple games in the tournament. After being suspended for the first semester of the season, he went on to average 33 minutes/game for the Flyers and will be a solid player for Dayton.
Hawaii also features an Andrew Wiggins connection in Stefan Jankovic who was Wiggins high school teammate at Huntington Prep. Jankovic recently won Big West conference player of the year and his 6’11” frame is a major reason Hawaii is in their first tournament in over 10 years. Unfortunately for Jankovic, he could have the game of his life against Cal but it will probably still be a short tournament run for him. But hey, nobody expected Butler to battle Duke for the national championship a few years back, so crazier things have happened.
The final Canadian to watch comes from National title threat Virginia Cavaliers. Marial Shayok (Ottawa, Ontario) has been a solid depth guy/role player for the Cavs down the stretch and helped Virginia secure the #1 seed in the Mid-West region. While Shayok probably won’t play huge minutes in the tournament he can be a great rotation guy and his scoring off the bench will be a major key for Virginia if they want to advance.
Due to the literal billions of ways that they tournament can wind up, me and the guys at RLGT have each decided to give you a couple contrasting final 4 and national champion picks. ALSO, join the official RLGT bracket for free, and battle us over the next month: rlgt.mayhem.cbssports.com
Andy: My final 4 has been redone 5 times in the last couple days but after much research I have decided against Miami, Kentucky and Xavier to have a final 4 of: Maryland, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Michigan State with State winning it all. Speaking of teams who got screwed out of a #1 seed, Michigan State is arguably the most balanced and deep team in the tournament. State is led by Denzel Valentine and have an excellent coaching staff led by Tom Izzo. For me, it boils down to State’s experience and depth and management by Izzo. Izzo is the type of coach who won’t panic in a close game or if his team falls behind early in the early rounds, his calm attitude will rub off on his players and their high scoring offence (80 points/game) and good defense (63 points/game surrendered) is the reason the Spartans will win it all. Combine that will a relatively easy road to the Elite 8, with the only legit threat being Seaton Hall and State should be well rested and confident when its time to play North Carolina and Maryland in Houston.
Hospey: In the 2016 Final 4 I got Kansas, OU, Indiana, and Cinderalla squad, Iowa State. Short & Sweet, I got OU taking it all home. The best thing about March Madness is that everything that happened in the season, doesn’t matter. Oklahoma took a few tough losses, but the Sooners have a bonafide STAR in Buddy Hield. The Bahamian born senior has been shooting the lights out all year, putting up huge numbers when it counted, and making the players around him better. OU features 2 seniors and a Jr. rounding out the back court, and the tournament experience alone will help them go far. Duke & Texas A&M will give them a run in the division, but I think whoever makes it out the conference will take it all home. Big players come alive in March, and expect this year to be no different!
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