Lighthall: Things Are About to Get Mad in College Basketball

By: Jim Lighthall

With the calendar rolling over to March this weekend, the casual college basketball fan is about to get much more interested. The mostly-meaningless non-conference matchups are long over and the conference schedules are drawing to a close. The Madness is getting closer.

It seems like we say this every year, but the NCAA Tournament will again have a wide range of candidates to win it at AT&T Stadium. There’s no clear cut favorite to cut down the nets. The top spot in the polls has been a revolving door this season … Kentucky, Michigan State, Arizona, Syracuse and now Florida have all been No. 1.

It’s been a crazy season already. Early on, Oklahoma State looked like a Final Four team. Now, they have double-digit losses and are struggling to get into the Big Dance. VCU was ranked 14th in the preseason and the darling of the mid-majors. Now, everyone says still-unbeaten Wichita State is for real. Syracuse opened 25-0. Now, they’re not even the best team in the ACC (Virginia is). Jekyll & Hyde North Carolina has been in-and-out of the Top 25 despite beating preseason No’s 1 through 4 (Kentucky, Michigan State, Louisville and Duke). And although they might not be the most talented, Florida might have the best team in the nation.

The conference tournaments will start to provide some clarity. It will also provide us with our first glimpses of a Cinderella. Last year it was Florida Gulf Coast. This year is it SMU? Green Bay? Iona? Harvard? Louisiana Tech? Toledo?

And the month of March makes heroes. Get to know Creighton’s Doug McDermott. Or all the fabulous freshmen: Duke’s Jabari Parker, Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins, Arizona’s Aaron Gordon, Kentucky’s Julius Randle. Or Memphis’ four senior guards. And I haven’t even mentioned Russ Smith of the defending national champion Louisville Cardinals.

College basketball owns the month of March. But don’t worry about doing your brackets – yet. Enjoy these final two weeks before Selection Sunday.

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