Trevor Block – Indy Writer
Ah the end of March. The promise of warmer weather. The beginning of spring. The Madness.
Another March means more Madness and 2016 is set to be as mad as they come. The landscape of NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament is wide open. Like, Nate Robinson guarding Julio Jones wide open. Every year yields fantastic matchups, upsets, rematches and the like, but this year, this year, is as unpredictable as they come.
That being said, don’t count on a bracket pool victory, just enjoy the Madness. Don’t get me wrong, last year’s tournament was phenomenal, unless you had Iowa St. going anywhere. Badgers defeat the undefeated Wildcats? Izzo’s Spartans in the Final Four? An 11 seed versus a 14 seed in the second round? It was great.
But we knew Kentucky would at least be in the Final Four. We knew player-of-the-year Frank Kaminsky was going to ball out. What do we know this year? Absolutely nothing. And that’s the beauty of it. It’s one game. Anything can happen.
There are some potential gems hidden in the bracket this year. As a matter of fact, there are 2 potential games I am particularly looking forward to, as any college basketball fan should. Keep in mind these games are dependent on others, so we may not even see them.
1) Round Two: Kentucky Wildcats vs Indiana Hoosiers
While these are in no particular order, and I won’t do this again, this is my most anticipated potential game. Remember this?
They’ve only played one other time since that shot on December 10, 2011. It was the same year’s tournament in the semifinals in which Kentucky exacted revenge on the Hoosiers with a convincing 22 point victory. They went on to win the tournament. Since then neither coaches nor athletic directors can agree upon terms to another matchup. Thank you NCAA for making this possible.
Aside from their rivalry, both teams are interesting in their own right. Kentucky flaunts yet another team full of new faces. However, the team is guided by Wooden award candidate Tyler Ulis, who has a year of experience under his belt, something Kentucky often lacks. Ulis dismantled Texas A&M in the SEC Championship game, posting a career high 30 points to go along with 5 assists and ONE turnover. He’s the point guard, he’s got the ball in his hands on every play and he only turned it over once. Watch out. Oh yeah and his buddy on the wing, Canadian faithful Jamal Murray, he can score. In his last game against A&M he only had 17 points. Yeah, only. That’s the first time he hasn’t scored at least 21 points since January 30.
Indiana, on the other hand, is coming off a disappointing exit from the Big Ten Tournament. The Hoosiers won the regular season Big Ten title, but were bounced from their conference tournament by Michigan, seemingly propelling the Wolverines to an 11 seed play-in game, but that’s a different story. Big Ten Coach of the Year Tom Crean will have his hands full with this Kentucky squad. Indiana is led by their senior point guard, Yogi Ferrell, who is no stranger to big shots and big games. Ferrell is posting a career high in just about every statistical category.
Now we just hope that an upset doesn’t prevent this…
2) Elite Eight: Michigan State Spartans vs. Virginia Cavaliers
Another rematch scenario. Can Virginia get it done this time? These teams have met in the tournament the past two years, but Sparty sent the Cavs packing both times. This one’s interesting. Add the rematch factor to the fact that Virginia got a number one seed despite losing the ACC Championship game and despite Michigan State winning the Big Ten championship.
Third times the charm for Tony Bennett and co…..right? Or does Denzel Valentine post a Magic Johnson/Draymond Green-esqe triple double on the way to another Final Four appearance? Hard to go against Tom Izzo in March. Crossing my fingers for another rematch.
There are plenty of games to watch out for and I’ll be previewing the most intriguing ones as the tournament unfolds. For now, I’m hoping to see at least these two matchups.
Let the Madness begin.
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