To get everyone as prepared as I can for next week without actually having the bracket yet (it will be released Sunday March 16 at 6PM EST on the CBS network), I thought I would give some of you newbies a breakdown of terminology used during the Final Four. Veterans – don’t scroll all the way down to the Cheerleaders section just yet. I will also include some information to help you fill your brackets out next week such as teams and players to keep an eye out on, and maybe even a hint or two about who I like as possible Final Four teams.
Final Four Terminology
March Madness: the name for the postseason tournament for the NCAA Men’s Basketball league which takes place in March.
Cinderella: a higher-seeded team that upsets two or more lower seeded teams. Most underdogs in the tournament are referred to as Cinderellas.
Dickie V: Nickname for Dick Vitale, a famous commentator for college basketball games. Catch phrases like “Yeah Baby” and “Diaper Dandy” are commonly heard when Dickie V is calling a game. Side note: Dick Vitale is a huge Tampa Bay Rays fan, so you know I had to throw some love in for Dickie V!
Final Four: The last four teams left in the tournament.
Big Dance: Another name for the tournament. Teams that make the tournament are “going dancing.”
RPI: Ratings Percentage Index, which is a formula used since 1981 by the NCAA to rank teams. I use this a lot when filling out my bracket and I have a tough time picking between two teams.
Seeds: In each of the four divisions, teams are assigned a rank of 1-16, one being the highest. Their rank is called their seed.
At-Large Berth: A team that did not win their conference’s postseason tournament but makes March Madness receives an at-large berth.
Automatic Bid: A team that wins their conference’s postseason tournament is automatically placed in the tournament, which is called an automatic bid.
Cutting Down the Net: Teams that win the championship traditionally have different players or coaches cut down the nets from the baskets in the place where they win.
One and Done: Because the tournament is single elimination style, games are often referred to as “one and dones.”
Selection Sunday: The day when the teams for that year’s tournament and their seeds are announced. There is usually a televised program as well.
2014 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament
Alright let’s talk some college basketball. You cannot give a recap of this season without first mentioning what a shock the Wichita State Shockers were this season (see what I did there). I wonder how many times that will be done over the next couple of weeks.
They finished 31-0 and completed their perfect regular season by winning their conference tournament this weekend. They may be a small school but they are no Cinderella, proven by the fact that they were a Final Four team last year.
You have to take into account the traditional powers that all have great shots this year to win. Syracuse, Duke, Villanova, Kansas, Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona, North Carolina and Michigan State just to name a few that are more than capable of cutting down the nets. However, I want to help you uncover the teams that are not well known, but can certainly make some noise come tournament time. The first one you have to watch out for is Creighton. The Blue Jay’s are led by the dynamic scorer and playmaker Doug McDermott. He could be named the Player of the Year by the time the season is over.
Steve Fisher’s team at San Diego State is also going to be a tough out. They are lead by Xaiver Thames. While he may have a bad shooting night some games, he is the best in the country when he reaches his true potential. Next you have UMass who has not been relevant since John Calipari and Marcus Camby were there, but they look to be back this year as they are 23-6, 3-0 vs ranked teams, and have an RPI ranking of 11. They could be as high as a number 3 seed.
The last team I want you to be on the lookout for is a big school but not a traditional basketball power, at least not since Ralph Sampson left. Virginia is the ACC regular season champion this year, and they may not have great scorers, but they play the toughest team defense in the entire country, bar none!
My Top 8 Picks
Here are a couple of teams I would stay away from this year that are traditionally basketball powerhouses:
Ohio State – They may have bounced back from a bad start but I still don’t think this is a Final Four Team.
Kentucky – They may not even make the tournament at all. There are way too many freshmen who haven’t developed their skills yet.
UCLA – I just don’t see a tournament tough team. They need to be better on the defensive side of the court.
I hold the right to change this based on the seeding that is done by the tournament committee, but here are 8 teams (in no particular order) that I believe my Final Four will be coming out of when I fill out my bracket:
1. Wichita State
6. Michigan State
Those are my thoughts going into Selection Sunday. I always suggest watching the conference tournaments even if you have not watched a game all year. At least you will have a good idea of who is hot heading into next week.
Reminder: Don’t forget about registering for our Final Four Contest! I would hate to have to keep this Man of War humidor for myself.
Did I forget something this week? Oh yea, let’s see if these college cheerleaders can get in you in the spirit of this tournament.