COLUMN: Zachary Berger’s March Madness, Week One

It is finally March, which means it is March Madness time!

Courtesy of Dayton Flyers

It is finally March, which means it is March Madness time!

It’s almost March. Time to start thinking about college basketball. Brackets, buzzer beaters, upsets and everything else associated with the insanity that is March Madness. This column, which will be updated weekly, will keep you in touch with everything going on in the college basketball world, so that you are ready when Selection Sunday comes around. In addition to a weekly article, you can also check out my ZB Top 25 for this week.

This week, let’s talk about the best of the best teams, the powerhouses, the true contenders to win the National Championship.

Kansas: The Jayhawks have very much come into their own, winning thirteen straight games in the Big 12. This winning streak includes wins over then number one ranked Baylor on the road, then number 14 ranked West Virginia and bitter rivals such as, Kansas State and Oklahoma. Kansas is led by the dominant forward, Udoka Azubuike. Azubuike had an outstanding performance against Baylor, scoring twenty-three points and grabbing 19 rebounds en route to a huge win. However, Azubuike is not the only star ready to win a championship. Sophomore guard, Devon Dotson, is averaging 17.9 points and 2.1 steals per game. This team is as good as they come defensively, and is really learning how to score the ball as well. They should be scary this March Madness.

Baylor: It is rare that there are two Big 12 teams contending for a national title, but the Bears’ success this year might make that a different story. Unlike Kansas, Baylor plays much more of a team-oriented style of play. While they do not have any top NBA prospects, they have a great offensive system, and have been harassing opponents on defense all season. The Bears are currently 25-2, with both of their losses coming by less than three points. The back court trio of Jared Butler, MaCio Teague and Davion Mitchell has been very hard to stop, as each of the three is averaging at least a steal per game. This is a team that can take the ball away and have a fast break layup on any given possession. Watch out for Baylor next month.

The Bulldogs, as usual, are an offensive juggernaut. Gonzaga is second in the nation in points per game, and they have three shooters who all have at least a 42% clip from three. On this team, just about anyone can score. This is the Bulldogs’ greatest strength, as an injury to a starter would not be fatal for the team’s chances to win it all. Despite coming from the lesser-known West Coast Conference, wins over Oregon and Arizona show that Gonzaga has the system and skill to beat anyone in the country. Coach Mark Few has one of his best teams yet, and he has made deep tournament runs multiple times.

San Diego State: Another Mid-Major school is making quite a splash this year in the Mountain West Conference. San Diego State was undefeated up until February 22nd, when they lost by three to UNLV. Star point guard, Malachi Flynn, is averaging 16.9 points, 5.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Flynn is not the only one, however, as the Aztecs have three other players averaging double figures in the scoring column. This team has completely dominated in conference, and out of conference all year, so don’t expect that trend to change.

Duke: The Blue Devils have a very curious resume this season. While they have early wins over Kansas and on the road against Michigan State, Duke has lost two of its last three games which is more than concerning for a team with national championship aspirations. Nonetheless, this team is insanely talented. Player of The Year candidate, Vernon Carey Jr. leads the way on both sides of the ball, while Tre Jones, sophomore point guard, and younger brother of Tyus Jones (the point guard for the most recent championship winning Duke team) does a great job at facilitating one of the best offenses in the country. Defense is where the Blue Devils struggle, but if they can pick it up in the next few weeks, expect to see them in the Final Four at least.

ZB Top 25 Power Rankings
San Diego State
Florida State
Seton Hall
Arizona State
Ohio State
Michigan State