ATLANTA, GA – With The Big Dance right around the corner, it’s time to talk some college basketball! Granted, at this point in the season it’s anybody’s guess who will win the April 8th National Championship in the Georgia Dome. Further, with the conference tournaments only starting next weekend (for some schools), there is still no clear favorite. Hey, this could even be the year Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference bottom-feeders Siena Saints, led by the nation’s top rebounder O.D. Anosike, win it all. So today, I’m here to give you my March Madness Dark Horse Final Four teams for this year’s Men’s Tournament.
#12 Syracuse Orange (22-7 Overall, 10-6 Big East): Early in the season the Orange were one of the nation’s hottest teams, but lately they’ve struggled. Led by legendary coach Jim Boeheim and an extremely strong core of senior guard Brandon Triche, junior forward CJ Fair and the nation’s 3rd best disher Michael Carter-Williams. However, Syracuse’s true weakness is a big man. Though ‘Cuse do have great length, they don’t have the best size and weight in the nation. Either way, the Orange are still a big threat at a National Championship run. They have the nation’s best sharp-shooter James Sutherland and the most reliable player in the nation in Fair. Don’t believe me? Sutherland made nine threes at Arkansas in November and shot four threes in one possession at the end of the game last week in a loss at Marquette. When a team gives you the ball for four shots in one possession and it takes you the fourth shot to make it, it shows how much faith the team has in you. One more point: Syracuse is the only team to beat Arkansas and Louisville in their respective domes.
#17 Wisconsin Badgers (20-9 Overall, 11-5 Big Ten): Wisconsin is down-right tough. They have quality wins (at Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan, and Illinois) and they’ve won all their games they should have. Wisconsin is the definition of a Tournament Team. In the past two NCAA Tournaments, Wisconsin has lasted until the Sweet 16. This year the Badgers will be leaning on senior big man Jared Berggren who is a bruiser down low, as they focus on the Big Dance. And to top it off, they have one of the best coaches in the college game; Bo Ryan.
Minnesota Gophers (20-9 Overall, 8-8 Big Ten): The Gophers got off to a hot start this season but their flame started to fade as the calendar turned to a new year. Luckily for Tubby Smith and his squad, that flame is back at the right time! Minnesota took down the #1 team in the nation at home last week, Indiana. The Gophers followed up the four-point upset with a blowout victory against Penn State, who beat Michigan coming in. Ultimately, success in March Madness comes down to the quality of coaching and Minnesota has a 500-game winner. If Minnesota can win their next two games to finish the regular season, they will be carrying some swagger into the Big Ten tournament and the NCAA Tournament!
Temple Owls (21-8, 9-5 A-10): There’s finally something to cheer about in Philly! Let’s face it, the Eagles and 76ers are not cutting it…But the Temple Owls are having a magical season and after defeating Syracuse in the Orange’s second home, Madison Square Garden (sadly I was there and it did not go so well,) an early season win at Villanova and a double digit victory over Top 25 Ranked St. Louis, they may already have sealed their invitation to The Dance. They still has a big game ahead against VCU, which will could still play a big role in the Owls making the tourney cut. If they do make it watch out – they are lead by senior guard Khalif Wyatt and that kid can straight ball!
Evan “Pickles” Achiron, tomorrow.
Filed in: DJ Eberle