North West Represent
While St. Mary’s, Middle Tennessee, Liberty, UNC A&T, Boise State, La Salle, J Madison and Long Island University all are happier than a kid in a candy store to be part of March Madness, something still feels incredibly wrong about the “play-in” games.
Sure it gives a couple more teams and players an opportunity to participate in the greatest championship tournament ever created, but it brings the Buffalo Wild Wings commercial to life.
Now that I have that off of my chest, let’s get on to the real reason why I am here. The 2012/13 NCAA hoops season has been a wild and crazy ride. The PAC12 had a relatively lackluster regular season, but the conference tournament was one of the best in recent memory.
Homegrown talent either matched preseason expectations or came out of nowhere to surprise everyone.
TOP 5 NORTHWEST BIG DANCE STORIES:
1) Is the tournament committee on the West Coast wacky tobacky by seeding the Oregon Ducks as a 12 seed?
HELLO 5-12 upset pick! Seriously, this is how much the East Coast thinks of West Coast basketball. The Ducks captured the PAC12 title and a trio of top 25 victories (#18 UNLV, #24 UCLA, #21 UCLA). At one point during the season, Oregon was among the top ten teams in the Div 1 ranks.
With E.J. Singler and Arsalan Kazemi up front along with freshman duo Damyean Dotson and Dominic Artis in the back, the Ducks have fire power all over the court. Scoring…check. Rebounding…check. Uptempo offense…check.
Most people have Oklahoma St going deep into the Madness, but if you are going to go with an upset pick, why not take a left coast team…..GO BIG OR GO HOME!
2) West Side Represent
One year after having only a single representative in the tournament (PAC12 Champions Colorado), the conference will have four teams battling for glory. 2013 Conference champs Oregon Ducks hold down the 12th seed in the Midwest and are primed for an upset win over OK St..
Arizona grabbed the 6th seed in the West and could possibly find themselves in the Regional Semifinals. As with the Wildcats, the UCLA Bruins were given the 6th seed in the South and despite the loss of Justin Adams, have the ability to at least get past day one.The Colorado Buffaloes were rewarded with the 10th seed in the East and as with the Bruins could find themselves playing multiple games.
3) Kelly Olynyk’s Gonzaga Bulldogs enter the Big Dance as a #1 seed for the first time in school history.
No longer considered a “Cinderella”, the Bulldogs are now a team that everyone is looking to knock off. With only two losses all season, the Bulldogs enter the tournament riding a thirteen game winning streak.
Unfortunately for some, the lack of a competitive conference schedule and two losses against ranked teams (at the time #13 Illinois Dec 8 ,85-74, #13 Butler Jan 19, 64-63) has fans questioning how many songs the Bulldogs will actually dance to this spring.
Look for the Zags to get by Southern U and last through a tough battle against Pitt….how they do against Wisconsin is the question on everyone’s minds.
4) Hidden Gems
Rio Adams (Hometown: Seattle, Kansas Jayhawks Guard). Adams found court time in 23 of 34 games this season, but only averaged 3.6 minutes. Playing behind Ben McLemore, Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford has been a tough nut for Adams to crack in his freshman season, but he could play a valuable role for Coach Bill Self if Kansas is to go far.
5) One Shining Moment – Peyton Siva.
After four years at Louisville, there would be no better way to close out his collegiate career than by cutting down the nets in Atlanta. The championship would almost then help secure Siva a spot in the June NBA Draft. Right now Siva is on the outside of many draft boards looking in.
After a relatively quiet freshman season, Siva quickly became one of the leaders of the Louisville Cardinals.
A two time Big East Champion, Siva has been knocked out of the field of Madness in the first round twice, before reaching the final four last season. He may be known as a Big East legend, but no doubt Siva would like to hear his name join the other elite guards when it comes down to crossing the stage for the legendary handshake.