The college basketball world will pause, as the brackets will be unveiled this Sunday for this year’s NCAA Tournament field. Sixty-eight of 351 teams advance, 32 teams via automatic conference bids and 36 at-large selections.
The team to beat is Kentucky, who have become the first Power-5 conference team to finish the regular season undefeated since the 1975-76 National Championship Indiana squad. Kentucky is hoping to advance to its fourth Final Four in the past five years. The Wildcats are the nation’s top defensive team with a balanced offensive attack. College basketball has never witnessed such depth and balance with nine players averaging over 15 minutes per game, each contributing at least five points. Aaron Harrison leads the team in scoring at 11 points per game. Karl-Anthony Towns is playing like the No. 1 in this June’s draft.
Who can knock off Kentucky? Best equipped to beat the ‘Cats are Virginia, Wisconsin and Arizona. The NCAA Tournament is the best three-week roller coaster ride in all of sports; it’s unpredictable and exhilarating at every turn.
With Selection Sunday upon us here is your score sheet of schools carrying big city hoop dreams:
In the Big Apple, it’s been over a decade since a New York school won an NCAA Tournament game. That's a lot of angst.
Last year, Manhattan pushed then-defending national champion Louisville to the brink before succumbing. The Jaspers have the last New York City tournament victory, from 2004, when they upset Florida. They are the first New York school to punch their ticket to the Dance.
Manhattan has won seven of their last eight games, powering their way to the MAAC Tournament championship with their swarming turnover forcing defense. They do a great job initiating contact and getting to the foul line, where they have scored the fourth most “free” points in the nation. Head coach Steve Masiello’s squad is comprised of a core of juniors and seniors. Maryland transfer Ashton Pankey has provided a rim protector and inside presence to complement All-MAAC selection Emmy Andujar.
The Red Storm are one win away from locking in an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament. Seniors Sir Dominic Pointer and DeAngelo Harrison have brought the excitement back to New York with spirited play. It’s been since 2000 since the Red Storm have won an NCAA Tournament game. This team has the guard play to advance. Coach Steve Lavin’s team protects the rim with the best in the land as they are ranked third nationally in blocked shots, led by 6-foot-9-inch Chris Obekpa.