Selection Sunday draws near

Selection Sunday draws near

Start Planing Your Brackets

With Selection Sunday just over six weeks away, you might want to begin planning your fantasy league for March Madness.  There is always at least one surprise team that makes it to the ‘elite 8’, and sometimes to the Final Four.  With many conferences, and television’s coverage primarily focusing on the “big schools”, you might have to do a little research to find that “Cinderella” team.

Butler, VCU, Gonzaga, Memphis, and “St. Joe’s”, all have to be considered as candidates to wear the glass slippers.  But here are a few from lesser known conferences that you might want to keep your eyes on.

This has been a year where predictions seem impossible.  With the rankings changing continuously and unranked teams claiming improbable victories, upsets in the tournament seem very likely.

Last year Creighton was a number 8 seed going into the tournament.  Although they have returning star Dough McDermott, their offense has been inconsistent.  When he is hitting his shots, they become formidable.

The Mississippi Valley Conference has become known for upsets in the tournament, but Creighton has only recorded two victories.  Creighton, at 18-3 will most likely rise to the level of play and be very dangerous in March.

One of the best kept secrets in the country is Stephen F. Austin University.  They are leading the Southland Conference with a record of 16-2.  Two of their road wins were against Oklahoma and Tulsa, and they suffered a close loss to Texas A&M.  They boast a proficient offense, led by senior forward Taylor Smith who averages 14.9 points per game,  8.7 rebounds, and is shooting at a percentage of 69.2 from the field.  As Smith goes, so go the Lumberjacks.

If they make it to the tournament, they should be about a number 10 seed, and don’t be surprised if they make it to the second round.

The Belmont Bruins are 8-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference, with an overall record of 17-4.  Their most impressive win was at Stanford.  They are led by Ian Clark, their senior guard, who is averaging 19.2 points from the field and an impressive 51.1 from three point range.  They must rely on intelligent guard play.  They are outmanned inside.  With the introduction of the ‘three point play’, teams like Belmont can force tight outside defenses, and open up the inside lanes for their center and forwards.  A higher seeded first round team may not be ready to compete against a team such as Belmont.

When the first tip-off comes on March 19th, there could be some early surprises.  Pick one.  It’s impossible to predict the outcome of any one game, but this may be your year if you’re a fan of the underdog.

James Turnage

Columnist-The Guardian Express