• Allison Verrino

Why this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has a chance to redefine the term “March Madness.”

Why this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has a chance to redefine the term “March Madness.”

Let’s go back to the beginning of the regular season and the preseason Top 25:

  • Preseason No. 1 Michigan State loses to then-No. 2 Kentucky 69-62 in the season opener on a neutral court at Champions Classic.

  • Kentucky slides into the No. 1 spot, only to fall 67-64 at home to Evansville just one day after landing the top ranking. Evansville is currently ranked No. 207.

  • Duke took over that next Monday, Nov. 18, 2019 and held the spot for two weeks, losing it when — after winning both games in the first week — the Blue Devils fell at Cameron Indoor Stadium to Stephen F. Austin 85-83 in overtime. Stephen F. Austin is currently No. 156.

  • That meant Louisville got the top spot on Dec. 2, 2019 and like conference rival Duke, became one of the only teams this year to hold onto the top ranking for more than a week. Just one week after Louisville proved that it deserved to be No. 1 by handling Michigan; the Cardinals played an unranked Texas Tech team at Madison Square Garden and was handled by an unranked Texas Tech 70-57.

  • And that brought us to Kansas, which ascended to No. 1 on Monday, but appears destined to join Michigan State and Kentucky as one-week wonders. Kansas’ loss may have been the best of the top-ranked teams: at 56-55, to Villanova on Dec 21, 2019, it was the smallest losing margin, and was one of just two losses (along with Kentucky’s win over Michigan State) to come to a ranked team.

  • Gonzaga grabbed the #1 ranking after that becoming the 6th different #1 ranked team before the New Year. A new record.

  • The Zags had the longest run at the top spot, 4 weeks, until it was replaced by Baylor, on Jan 21, 2020, setting a single-season record by becoming the seventh team to top the rankings this year. Baylor held that position for 4 weeks until they were upset at home by Kansas on Feb 22, 2020. In fact that day 3 of the top 4 ranked teams lost thus bolstering then #3Kansas to the #1 spot again. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, perennial contenders, like the North Carolina Tar heels, who are unranked with a record of 11-17, and 15th in the ACC conference. I’ve been following college basketball for over 25 years and I never remember the Tar heels being this bad.

Sunday March 15, 2020 is Selection Sunday, that’s a little less than 3 weeks away. This in my mind means that there are 3 more weeks of just pure chaos on the court, and more to come during the Tournament. There is no clear cut #1 team in the nation this year. This Tournament will be wide open, and may bring the Maddest Tournament in a very long time.

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