Joe Bittner, ‘Doah Staff Writer
March 19, 2014
College basketball takes center stage as the 2014 NCAA Tournament tips off. Four regions of 16 teams will battle it out to see who is the best college basketball team in the country. Each region has a number one seed, and all of these number ones prepare for a deep run in the tournament.
The number one in the South Region is the University of Florida (32-2, 18-0 SEC)– the Southeastern Conference (SEC) regular season and tournament champions. Going undefeated in the SEC is something to be extremely proud of and rightly gives them the overall number one seed of the tournament. Riding at 26-game win streak into the tournament bodes well for the Gators as they seek another national championship.
In the East Region, the number one seed is the University of Virginia (28-6, 16-2 ACC). Cavalier basketball has returned in a big way as they win the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) championship over the constant favorite Duke University Blue Devils. This defense has shut opponents down, allowing an NCAA best 55.3 points per game. If UVA hopes to win the title, they will need their defense to continue minimizing opponents’ scoring while finding ways to score on the offensive end.
The University of Arizona (30-4, 15-3 Pac-12) is the number one in the West Region. After a disappointing loss in the Pac-12 title game to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the Wildcats look to bounce back and make a run. They seek a possible revenge game against the University of Oregon later in the tournament, as the Ducks defeated the Wildcats towards the end of the regular season. Their offense is 18 in the country in rebounds and looks to help them gain many second chances and longer possessions throughout the game.
Last, but certainly not least, is Wichita State University (34-0, 18-0 MVC). The Shockers could not fit their name any more perfectly. They completed their quest for perfection with an 83-69 victory over Indiana State University, and rightfully earned a number one seed. But there is an underlying question that many people feel could haunt the Shockers: did they play a quality schedule with good opponents? The Missouri Valley Conference is not known for good teams like the ACC or SEC are. But with wins over teams in those conferences, such as the University of Tennessee and the University of Alabama, Wichita State feels that they have earned their place in history. This will be put to the test in what is arguably the toughest region this year: the Midwest Region.
Wichita State earned a right to be a number one seed, but did they expect this high caliber of teams in their region? The region has no “clear” favorite. Yes, the Shockers earned the top spot and are undefeated, but what about Duke? Historically, Duke University has been a powerhouse in the tournament. How about the University of Kentucky? This team has also won many titles and is consistently in the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight. Kentucky is in a crucial position. They play Kansas State University in their first game- a team that is no push over by any means. Kansas State plays tough and will never go down without a fight. This game could be an early deciding factor for the region. The winner would face Wichita State in the next round, provided that the Shockers don’t get shocked by the 16 seed.
Other teams in the region that could cause problems are the University of Louisville, University of Massachusetts (UMass), University of Texas and the University of Michigan. Louisville absolutely drubbed the Big East in their conference tournament on their way to a title. UMass won games against the University of New Mexico, Clemson University and Brigham Young University (BYU) with ease. While Texas did not have an outstanding year, they still have big men that will rebound and play physical. Michigan has played 11 games against top 25 teams this year and is prepared for tough competition by winning six of those.
The tournament is a great time of year for sports fans of any kind. College athletes will showcase all of their hard work and talents to try to earn their ultimate goal: a national championship.