While 99% of the students at Alabama scuttle away for the week to their homes and/or beaches, I’m stuck in a now desolate Tuscaloosa. The bad news is that it’s going to be rather lonely. The good news is that I have more time to post my opinions about sports online. And oh would you look at that March Madness is just around the corner. Perfect. Well without further adieu, here’s a look at the teams that I will be cheering for this month on the Men’s side of things (I’ll be looking at the Women’s teams I’ll be cheering for on the morrow). Please Note: These are not the teams I think will necessarily do well in the tournament. I’ll post my 3 brackets (one serious, one not so serious, and one “Fuck it” bracket) soon after the selections are made.
1. Weber State
If you can’t cheer for the university from the place you were born and the one both your parents at least spent some time at, I don’t know if we can be friends. Not only did both of my parents spend time there, I have a plethora of friends (maybe 3 or 4) who go to school there. Not to mention that it’s a team from a smaller conference (Big Sky), and expected to not do well. That’s my favorite kind of team, just imagine the potential Cinderella Story. Here’s an interesting (probably useless) statistic: Weber State is undefeated on neutral courts this season.
2. State University of New York at Buffalo
Who? For those of you unaware that is the full name of the University at Buffalo. This is another team where I have friends attending university at, so naturally I have to cheer them on. For those of you who don’t have that kind of personal investment, this is only the second time the Bulls have made it to the Big Dance, and this is their second year in a row doing so. This team also has a higher ceiling of potential than Weber State, with a good ability to pass the ball around and get guys open.
State University of New York at Stony Brook Stony Brook
Another school from the New York Public University System, they’re on my cheer radar for the sole reason that this is their first March Madness berth. That’s right: since they joined Division I Men’s Basketball in 1999 they haven’t been to the Tournament. You gotta give it up for head coach Steve Pikiell for getting this far, and it’d be even more beautiful for this program to go deep into the Big Dance like how Florida Gulf Coast did a few years ago.
4. Holy Cross
You really can’t talk about underdogs this year without talking about Holy Cross. It’d been 9 years since they last made the trip to the NCAA Tournament, where they were bounced in the first round. This season, they finished at a dismal 10-19 record, with a 5-13 Conference record. Then they made a miracle run through the Patriot League Tournament, winning the Patriot League Championship and securing an automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament. Gutsy to say the least. It’ll be interesting to see if teams continue to underestimate this squad or if Holy Cross will be drubbed out of the first round. I, for one, would love to see them “shock the world”. It is known as “March Madness” for a good reason.
To be honest, this team wasn’t on my radar at all. I didn’t particularly care about them until I saw Edward Joyner Jr., Hampton’s coach, just absolutely celebrate this win. It was arguably the best coaching celebration since Georgia State’s Head Coach fell out of his chair last season. Like it got me really excited for his team. They haven’t done well against good teams all year, but wouldn’t be something if they got this coach a win in the tournament?
BONUS- CSU Bakersfield
Was not expecting to put them on here, whatsoever. Just as I’m about to post this I hear this game in the background, I turn to look, and the buzzer-beater 3 point shot goes in. Wow. Not a bad way to secure your first tournament bid there eh Bakersfield? And remember how I said their coach had an amazing celebration? Bakersfield’s assistant coach literally joined the dogpile on the player who made the shot. Unlike Stony Brook, it only took Bakersfield less than 10 years to make the Division I tournament. If you’re looking for a team that could make an upset bid, I think you’ve found your squad.
Like I said, I’ll be back tomorrow with the Women’s teams I’ll be cheering for, and then I’ll probably post my brackets either Monday or Tuesday at the latest. Until then, take care.