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Archived: March Madness Sleepers

February 25, 2022

The real start of the college basketball season begins…

Which is now only a few weeks from reality…

Here are 10 questions about the soon to be announced 68 team field and what might happen.

1. Who will be in the Final Four?

Let’s start with big picture items and work back.

Again, we have to wait to see how the brackets are created, but doing our own research and early projections, we  say it will be a combination of chalk teams and one minor surprise.

West: Gonzaga (No. 1 seed); Midwest: Texas Tech (No. 3),  East: Kentucky (No. 2) and South: Arizona (No. 1).  .West–Gonzaga, Duke, Illinois, Texas.

 Who will be the Top 4 seeds in each region?

West–Gonzaga, Duke, Illinois, Texas

Midwest–Auburn, Purdue, Texas Tech, UCLA

East–Kansas, Kentucky, Villanova, Houston

South–Arizona, Baylor, Tennessee,  Providence

3. Houston is a team loved by the computers  but down played by bracketologist, are the Cougars real?

Sort of.

Houston’s latest Net Ranking, was No. 4, which is a No. 1 or No. 2 seed, but in  a quick glance, the Cougars are no better than a No. 4 seed. The problem is injuries.  Houston Coach Kelvin Sampson lost  two of his best players, Sasser and Tramon Mark with season-ending injuries, but the Cougars keep winning. Clearly, the bracketologists are not believing what the numbers are saying.

4. What’s going on in ACC basketball?

Mediocrity or parity. You’re call.

Duke is the only Elite team, capable of winning the national championship in Coach K’s last season. The rest of the conference?

No even Sweet 16 contenders and maybe only four (or possibly a maximum of 5) bids.

5. Who will be the sleeper Mid-Major tournament teams?

The usual suspects, providing they earn a spot by winning their conference tournaments.

Liberty could be a sleeper in the Atlantic Sun, but must get past Jacksonville State.

Toledo and Ohio could be dangerous coming out of the MAC.

Iona, coached by Rick Pitino would be a dangerous first round opponent for a No. 4 or No. 5 seed.

And their is always Murray State, the only unbeaten team in conference among the 32 automatic leagues.

6.  Who will be individual star who can carry his team the greatest difference?

Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe can carry the Wildcats to the Final Four in New Orleans, but he has help.

Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis has more of a burden for a team with less talent, but Auburn

s Jabari Smith may be the most dangerous player, with a 6-foot-10 inch frame that can defend an add rebounds, while making 40 percent of his three-point attempts.

7. Who are the potentially double digit double seeded  teams to watch?

Iona, North Texas, Ohio, Liberty, Cleveland Stateh

8. Is this the season Providence breaks out of the March Madness clouds?

Let’s hope so. Ed Cooley is probably going to be Big East Coach of the Year if not National Coach of Year. The Friars are  contenders for both regular season and tournament championships.

It’s been a magical season, but PC under Cooley is 1-5 in NCAA tournament games, with its last and only victory coming six years ago

.That’s got to change to make this season special.

he Friars should get a higher seed (No. 3 or No. 4) which presumably means an easier first round opponent, but Doomsday  scenarios against No. 13 seed Iona (and Rick Pitino) are already being projected.

9. Is the Big 10 worthy of 9 bids?

Probably not, but the Big Ten goes that deep in t teams and other conferences such as the Atlantic 10 and American Athletic Conference are only two-bid worthy, so  some extra spots might be open.

Eight Big Ten teams look solid, and Michigan is sitting on the edge with  a regular season final challenge five games looming without its coach.

10.  Will there be a major coaching carousel of changes in the next several weeks?

Count on it.

There could be as many as 32 coaching changes among the  Top tier schools as openings occur and replacements are chosen.

Using pure speculation, here are a few spots to watch:

Louisville, Marylad, Providence, St. John’s, Arizona State, Clemson, South Carolina, Boston College, Tulsa, NC State, Rhode Island, UMass, George Washington, LaSalle, Florida, Michigan.

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