If you’re like me, March Madness is one of your favorite times of year.
I remember watching live in my childhood living room when "Duke’s Christian Laettner hit an improbable buzzer-beater to top Kentucky, and I remember being in The Topeka Capital-Journal newsroom when Mario Chalmers drained a 3-pointer at the end of regulation that led to the Kansas Jayhawks’ overtime win over Memphis in the national championship.
The tournament has provided me endless excitement over the years. Whether it’s been watching Chris Weber call an ill-advised timeout, the dominance of a Larry Johnson led UNLV squad, the speed and court awareness of Tyus Edney, the rise of Seth Curry or Cinderella stories like Butler, VCU and Wichita State, the NCAA tournament is always must-see TV.
No doubt, this year’s tournament will have its own iconic moments.
Here are five things to look out for when you watch 2016’s version of the madness:
- Streaks are meant to be broken
To win the tournament, a team must win at least six consecutive games. But for teams that won their conference tournament, they must rattle off even more wins in a row to capture the national title. The Kansas Jayhawks enter the tournament on a 14-game winning streak. That’s not to say that the No. 1 overall seed isn’t capable of finishing the season with 20 straight wins. However, it’s not easy to do. Three of the last five NCAA champions entered the tournament after a loss.
- The best player doesn’t equal the best team
Many believe that Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield is the best player in the country, but that may not mean the Sooners will be cutting down the nets. Since 2000, the only Naismith College Players of the Year to lead their teams to a national title were Duke’s Shane Battier in 2001 and Kentucky’s Anthony Davis in 2012.
- Shockers may not be done
Wichita State may not be the same team that sent shockwaves through thousands off tournament brackets in recent years, but the Shockers may have some more upsets in store. Seniors Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet helped the Shockers reach the Final Four in 2013, win 35 games in 2014 and upset Kansas in 2015.
- We’re No. 1
It may seem too easy to pick a No. 1 see to win the tournament, but history tells us that teams earned top seeds for a reason. Seven of the past nine champions were No. 1 seeds.
- There will be upsets
Every year, there will be at least one loss no one sees coming. At least two double-digit seeds have advanced to the Sweet 16 in 15 of the past 19 seasons. While a No. 16 seed has never knocked off a No. 1 seed, No. 15 seeds have ousted No. 2 seeds seven times. The most recent example was when Florida Gulf Coast shocked Georgetown in 2013.
Mark Schremmer has been a sports reporter since 2000 and has covered games at the professional, college and high school levels for the Topeka Capital-Journal and The Joplin Globe.
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