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March Madness preview: with March, comes the maddest tournament in its history

A year after the tournament was scrapped, a new field of 68 teams compete for their “shining moment.”

Analysis by Benjamin Royer, Staff Writer

In a college basketball season unlike any other, the committee that chooses the field of 68 brought us a bracket odder than those before.

Beginning this Thursday, March Madness will take place in one central location for the first time. All 68 teams gather in Indiana for a chance to compete to be the winner of the tournament and all of men’s college basketball.

Top-seeded Gonzaga University has an opportunity to run the table and become an undefeated champion. Led by top-five NBA Draft projected freshman guard Jalen Suggs, the Zags have an opportunity to continue to dominate and walk their way to a title.

Baylor, Illinois and University of Michigan are also number one-seeded teams in their regions, hoping to sneak by the dreaded eight or nine seed matchup if they can get to the round of 32. Michigan will be without senior guard Isaiah Livers indefinitely. A stress injury to his foot dampers Michigan’s path to victory.

Second seed Iowa announced at their senior night that senior center Luka Garza would get his number retired by the university. He is the front-runner to win National Player of the Year for the second straight season. They will certainly be banking on his talent to get through the bracket.

Fourth-seeded Oklahoma State is another team that will need to bank on one player’s talent. Freshman guard Cade Cunningham is the likely number one overall draft pick in the upcoming NBA draft. His freakish ability and instincts to carry his team on his back leave him as a player to watch in the tourney. Cunningham could single handedly bring Oklahoma State to the title game.

Sleepers always create chaos during March Madness. We are unlikely to get an upset similar to UMBC knocking off Virginia as a 16 seed, but there are great teams to watch here.

Colgate University has a chance to upset third-seeded Arkansas as a 14 seed. The run-and-gun offense that both teams use could create a fun matchup that viewers will want to keep an eye on.

Oregon State and NBA hall-of-famer Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown stunned their conferences as they won their conference tournaments. Both teams were predicted to finish last in their respective conferences, but now see themselves as 12 seeds with a chance to create that trademark chaos that they have already caused once before this season.

Southern California is represented by four teams this March Madness. The team that takes the name of Southern California, USC is a six seed in the bracket. Look for them to run through freshman center Evan Mobley in the tournament. The Pac-12 player of the year has that elite post talent that few have.

San Diego State is another six seed in the tournament. After a marvelous run that ended with March Madness being canceled last season, they will look to take that talent into the big dance this year.

UCLA has an interesting matchup as they play in the “First Four” of March Madness. They will face off against Michigan State for a chance to become the 11 seed that will face BYU. Head Coach Mick Cronin will have a tall order to accomplish. The Bruins lost their last four games of the season and will need to press the reset button before they face off with Tom Izzo’s Spartans Thursday night.

UC Santa Barbara is a fan-favorite Cinderella pick this year. Head Coach Joe Pasternack has built his 12th-seeded team around sophomore guard JaQuori McLaughlin that could be difficult to stop. McLaughlin could be that x-factor talent that the nation discovers this March. Look out for his jumper.

As we look to the National Championship matchup, there are two teams that stand out; in the bracket, Gonzaga will take on Oklahoma State for the national title.

Gonzaga will defeat Oklahoma State as they cement themselves as college basketball powerhouses.

Be glad that March Madness is back. It may be a bit mad this year, maybe madder than any year prior, but the fun of March will prevail. Jon Rothstein, analyst for CBS Sports, has a saying that fits like a glove for this March.

“Stay positive, test negative.”

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