March Madness is right around the corner and it is looking to be one of the most exciting NCAA basketball tournaments in recent history. Numerous teams have high hopes of winning the prestigious tournament and look to write their names in the history books as national champions.
Currently, Gonzaga looks to be the team to beat in the nation as they continue to build upon their 20 game winning streak, the current longest streak in the top 25. The Bulldogs have been dominant all season and are tied for the best record in Division 1 basketball at 29-2. While Gonzaga has been successful in recent years, they have never done incredibly well in the tournament and have only made the championship game once, in 2017, when they lost to North Carolina.
North Carolina, who previously won the tournament in 2017 and placed second in 2016, is also another serious competitor for the title. As one of the most successful teams in the history of college basketball, North Carolina is no stranger to either the spotlight nor the championship game. The 26-5 Tar Heels have won six championships, have been runner-ups five times, and have proven that they are able to beat the favorites with a 79-70 victory over Duke.
Virginia, while still a favorite to win, has a cloud of doubt surrounding their championship run due to their failure to produce in past tournaments. The team has never even managed to make a championship game, but have high hopes that this will be their year. The Cavaliers, who are 28-2, are currently on an eight game win streak and hope to build upon their recent success as the tournament begins.
Just a few weeks ago, Tennessee was ranked as the best team in the nation, but have lost a few games since and have yet to regain their flow. With the start of conference season, the Vols could turn their luck around. People often forget they went on a double digit win streak before losing to Kentucky. Within that winning streak, they defeated current number one ranked team, Gonzaga.
Duke is another college with a successful basketball history and has added this year to their past successes, as the Blue Devils have a record of 26-5. Before he was injured, Zion Williamson was unstoppable and will return before the NCAA tournament to aid the Blue Devils with their postseason run. While Duke has no returners from their 2015 champion team, they are still expected to shine on the court and exemplify why they have become one of the most prestigious basketball colleges in the United States.
Would it truly be an NCAA tournament if Kentucky was not a serious contender for the title? The Wildcats have won eight national titles, second only to UCLA’s 11 titles. The fourth ranked team in the nation is home of a respectable 26-5 record and is hoping to prove to the nation that they are still one of the best teams in the nation.
Every year’s tournament brings about the discussion of who will be the last four in and the first four out. One team that has been bouncing back and forth between these two areas are the Indiana Hoosiers. The Hoosiers started the year off strong, cracking the top 25 in the nation but went on a losing streak when conference play started. The Hoosiers have a few questionable losses, but with two wins over top 10 Michigan State and a Big Ten player of the year candidate in Romeo Langford, the voters could lean toward having the Hoosiers make the tournament.
Indiana will have a tough chance in making a case for the tournament as three Big Ten teams are ranked in the top 25. With the Big Ten tournament nearing, the teams will be looking to make a statement to the tournament voters that they should have a higher seed. One of these teams is the Wisconsin Badgers, who come into the Big Ten tournament ranked fourth in the conference and 19th in the nation. The Badgers are lead by one of the nation’s top players in Ethan Happ, who is averaging 17.8 points per game, and is their key to a long tournament run. The Badgers started of the season roughly, but have been able to turn it around and have created a fairly successful season and could have an opportunity, however small, to win it all.
For the first year in a few years, Villanova is not ranked inside the top 20 as the tournament approaches. The 25th ranked team has had a tough season, as they sport a record of 22-9, but it is impossible to count them out. The 2016 and 2018 national champions have still shown throughout the season that they can still compete, as they defeated current no. 12 ranked Florida State. Nova has constantly been a competitive opponent in the tournament and it would be unfair due to their recent success to count them out.
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises this season is Wofford, who is currently ranked 20th. Wofford has a Division 1 second best winning streak with 19, only behind no. 1 ranked Gonzaga. While they have been unable defeat a ranked team during their streak, winning 19 in a row is never an easy feat and could pave a pathway into the NCAA tournament. The 28-4 team, if given a high enough seed, could avoid a high ranked team until the later rounds and could make a deep tournament run.