March Madness: The Conclusion

By Josh Wiggins
PSDC March Madness Contributor

March Madness is over. Duke is your 2015 NCAA champion after defeating Wisconsin in a tightly contested finale, and we are left waiting until next season for the reappearance of college basketball. This game was the perfect ending to a tremendous tournament, featuring two of the best teams battling until the very end.

Photo Credit: USA Today

Photo Credit: USA Today

From the minute the game tipped off, it was clear that this matchup would be exciting. With both teams playing at a furious pace and the lead constantly changing hands for the first 20 minutes, the teams entered the half tied at 31. Once the second half started, we saw both teams begin to get into a more steady rhythm, and the back and forth lead changes were more drawn out. As the finish grew closer, the Badgers seemed to be in control holding a nine-point lead with only seven minutes to play; however, the Duke freshmen refused to give up. In a situation that tends to favor experience, Tyus Jones and Grayson Allen elevated their play, and led Duke to a victory. [Read more…]

March Madness: The Final Act

By Josh Wiggins
PSDC March Madness Contributor

March Madness has been absolutely tremendous this year. Sure, we really didn’t have a true Cinderella to captivate us, but the quality and competitiveness of basketball more than made up for that. After 66 games, there are only two teams left, two teams doing everything they can to win for their schools, their fans, and themselves.

wisconsin-duke

Duke and Wisconsin have earned their way to this point and proven that they have what it takes to be a champion. Both of them started this tourney with a No. 1 seed based on what they did all season long; however, Kentucky and Villanova did the same thing. That was the easy part, the thing that four teams do every year. [Read more…]

March Madness: Final Four Bold Predictions

By Josh Wiggins
PSDC March Madness Contributor

Photo Credit: AP

Photo Credit: AP

Well everyone, we have made it to the Final Four. The four programs remaining in this tournament have proven they deserve a chance at winning the national championship, beating every team in front of them. Kentucky, Wisconsin and Duke were expected to make it to this point, at least to some degree. Sure, nothing is guaranteed in this tourney, and there is no easy path to the Final Four. But, these teams were ranked as No. 1 seeds for a reason. Michigan State, on the other hand, has defied the odds to get to this point. Beating both Virginia and Villanova, the Spartans have had the most difficult journey to get to this point as a No. 7 seed. However, isn’t this what we expect from the Tom Izzo-led Michigan State team? This is a familiar role for them, and they have proven that they are just as dangerous as their opponents. [Read more…]

March Madness: Final Four Coaches

By Josh Wiggins
PSDC March Madness Contributor

The programs left in the NCAA tournament are loaded with talent and have played their best when it counted, but the coaches leading them are the single biggest reason that they have made it to the Final Four.

John Calipari. Bo Ryan. Mike Krzyzewski. Tom Izzo.

Photo Credit: athlonsports.com

Photo Credit: athlonsports.com

Calling these coaches successful would be a vast understatement. Between the four of them, they have won 2,532 games, reached 25 Final Fours and won national championships. Coach K has won 1,016 games, and if the Blue Devils can win the tournament this year, he will only trail John Wooden for the most championships in NCAA history with a total of five to his credit. John Calipari has had success with multiple programs, with four trips to the Final Four in the last five years. Bo Ryan has won four Division III championships, and may have his best shot yet at a Division I title this year. Tom Izzo has taken the Spartans to seven Final Four appearances since 1999, more than anyone else during this period, and often as an underdog. [Read more…]

March Madness: The Elite Eight

By Josh Wiggins
PSDC March Madness Contributor

The Sweet 16 has come and gone, and we are jumping right into the Elite Eight. The field has grown even tighter, with the just one team that did not earn a No. 4 seed or better. Look forward to a slate of highly-competitive basketball this weekend, with almost no potential outcome being a true shock, outside of maybe Kentucky losing. With that said, here is a breakdown of Elite Eight.

1 Kentucky vs 3 Notre Dame

Despite being seeded as a No. 3, many have considered this deep of a run for Notre Dame to be improbable at best. However, their most recent victory against Wichita State showed just how dangerous this team can be. They may not be flashy, but when they are on, the Irish offense can be tough to stop. In the second half of that game, they shot an insane 75 percent from the field. [Read more…]

March Madness: No Cinderellas

By Josh Wiggins
PSDC March Madness Contributor

If you take a look at the remaining teams in the Sweet 16, a clear trend emerges. Every team seems to belong here: Kentucky, Wisconsin, Duke, UNC, Louisville, Michigan State, etc. There are no Cinderellas left to take everyone by surprise.

This is not an accident. This is by design.

Photo Credit: USA Today

Photo Credit: USA Today

On Selection Sunday, the committee picks the 68 best college teams in the nation to square off against one another in this tournament. Similarly, they seed these teams from one to 16, in an effort to give the best teams the easiest path while making those weaker teams really earn every win. The end goal, as with any athletic tournament, is for the best teams to compete with one another to win it all. [Read more…]

March Madness: And Then There Were 16

By Josh Wiggins
PSDC March Madness Contributor

Just a few days ago, this tournament was brimming with 68 hopeful teams. Our brackets were crafted for certain success, and our favorite team was poised for a deep run. Then this weekend happened.

No worries. Let’s just forget about all of that now and focus on the basketball ahead of us.

Here’s a look at some of the teams who have survived to make it to this point and what they really bring to the table.

The Favorite: Kentucky

Photo Credit: AP

Photo Credit: AP

No surprise here. Kentucky is considered by most (I’m still not convinced) to be the likely winner of this tournament. They still haven’t lost a game this year, and for good reason. Any opponent hoping to legitimately challenge them will have to score effectively and at least slow down the multiple-headed Wildcat attack. This team is young and talented, and the only way they get knocked out is by failing to bring their best to a game. [Read more…]

Where is the fun in today’s March Madness?

By Joe Hines
PSDC Staff & Chicago Guru

March-Madness-NCAA-Basketball

I enjoy the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, AKA March Madness, as much as the next guy. I dutifully fill out brackets and watch them go up in flames along with 99 percent of the rest of the population midway through the first day of the tourney. Here in Northern Illinois, there isn’t much of a regional interest since, for the second straight year, no team from the state made the tournament. The University of Wisconsin is only about 60 miles from where I sit now, and most of my basketball-loving friends have adopted the Badgers as they wind their way through the West Region as a No. 1 seed. Here in my hometown of Rockford, we root for Wichita St. because the Shockers excellent guard, Fred Van Vleet went to high school here. [Read more…]

March Madness: First Round Breakdown (Part 2)

By Josh Wiggins
PSDC March Madness Contributor

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Friendly PSA here: If you haven’t submitted your brackets yet, read this and do it now! This is part two of our breakdown of the first round. You can read the quick analysis of the Midwest and West regions at Project Shanks as well.

East

1 Villanova (32-3) vs 16 Lafayette (20-12)

Not that we advocate gambling here at Project Shanks, but there is a 23-point spread in this game! 23 points! A No. 16 has never beaten a No. 1, and if you were hoping for it to happen this year, pick a different game to put your money on. Villanova may be considered the weakest No. 1 seed in this tournament, but this one shouldn’t be close.

Prediction: Villanova [Read more…]

March Madness: First Round Breakdown (Part 1)

By Josh Wiggins
PSDC March Madness Contributor

The First Four is finished and we are jumping right into the tournament proper. There are 32 games over the next two days, and you had better be ready. I trust you have finished your brackets using our guide, and if not, get those things submitted immediately if not sooner! Since I know you are all very busy people, I am going to get right to the point on each of these games.

Midwest

1 Kentucky (34-0) vs 16 Hampton (17-17)

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Good news. After defeating the vaunted Manhattan Jaspers, Hampton finally has broken even with a .500 record. Bad news is… Kentucky. Look, I would absolutely love for the Pirates to pull a victory out of thin air here, the success of my bracket be damned. It’s just not going to happen. Kentucky is just in a different league altogether when looking at this one.

Prediction: Kentucky [Read more…]

The Best NCAA Cinderella Stories Since 2000 (Part 2)

By Ryne Hancock
PSDC March Madness Contributor

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Beginning Thursday, 68 teams have a chance to write their own March story as the First Four kicks off the 2015 NCAA Tournament. And while on paper Kentucky is the odds on favorite to win the national championship and finish the season undefeated, there is a plethora of underdogs that are looking to write their own Cinderella story.

But before you fill out your bracket, here’s the last part of the list of the best Cinderella teams of the last 15 years.

Similar to the first part of this list, the criteria is as follows:

*Team was seeded no higher than eighth
*Team made it at least to the Sweet 16 (sorry, 2001 Hampton, 2012 Norfolk State and 2012 Lehigh)

10. 2014 Dayton Flyers
Seed: 11
Record: 25-8
Result: Elite Eight

In 2008, Archie Miller’s brother Sean led Dayton’s archrival Xavier to the Elite Eight, the second such trip for the Musketeers in program history. Six years later, Dayton, which last reached the second weekend in 1984 when they lost to Georgetown, went on a spirited run as the No. 11 seed in the South Region, beating Ohio State, Syracuse and Stanford before bowing out in the Elite Eight. [Read more…]

March Madness: The First Four

By Josh Wiggins
PSDC March Madness Contributor

Just wakin’ up in the mornin’ gotta thank God, I don’t know but today seems kinda odd. The cause of which is either South by Southwest descending upon the fine city of Austin or the official start of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. I am going to go with the latter, but either way, today is in fact a good day. Sure, it may only be the First Four, but take it easy. We have a lot of basketball ahead of us, and it’s important that we ease into it.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Without any further ado, let’s get this party started. Here is everything you really need to know about these first four games, including my expertly guessed upon predictions.

Tuesday 3/17

No. 16 Manhattan vs. No. 16 Hampton

Kicking off the 2015 NCAA Tournament, we have the Hampton Pirates squaring off against the Manhattan Jaspers. The MEAC vs. the MAAC. Pretty compelling stuff if you ask me.

Hampton is coming into the tourney as only the ninth team with a losing record (16-17) to be selected since 2000. However, they The Jaspers (19-13), led by senior forward Emmy Andujar, have fared a bit better. Regardless, these are two teams that had slow starts to the year, got better as it wore on, and won when it mattered in their conference tournaments. The bad news is, whoever wins has to play Kentucky. [Read more…]