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March is here, let the Madness begin

By Reese Williams and Travis Politakis

March is an exciting time for college basketball due to the arrival of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, or as most call it, March Madness.

The Tournament consists of 64 schools, ending with the Final Four in Minneapolis. The tournament is a great opportunity for powerhouse schools like Duke and North Carolina to assert their dominance.  Players like freshman guard Ja Morant from Murray State and junior forward Grant Williams from Tennessee are able to showcase their talents to the world.

One team that is expected to do great things this tournament is Duke. Duke has been dominant all year, as they’re ranked third in the nation with a 29-5 record. Duke has a star-studded team with freshmen forward Zion Williamson, guard RJ Barrett, forward Cam Reddish and guard Tre Jones, all four of which are expected to go high in the 2019 NBA Draft this coming summer.

RJ Barrett leads the Blue Devils with 22.9 points per game with the versatility to shoot and handle the basketball.

Additionally, Williamson averages big numbers with 22.1 points per game, 8.9 rebounds per game and 2.2 steals per game. Williamson also won 2018-19 ACC Player of the Year. The Blue Devils won the ACC Tournament and are looking to bring home the National Championship to prove their historic reign.

Another team that can go far this tournament is the University of Tennessee. The Vols are ranked sixth in the nation with a 29-5 record. They are hungry for revenge in the tournament as they lost to Loyola-Chicago on a game winning shot in the 2018 tournament.

The Vols are led by forwards Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield and guards Jordan Bone and Lamonte Turner. They are an experienced team with most of their roster being third or fourth year players. Experience can be an advantage in the tournament because of maturity and team chemistry.

The University of Tennessee are a very physical team on defense their height poses a tough task for opponents. Williams won 2018-19 SEC Player of the Year, averaging 19 points per game and 7.6 rebounds per game. Williams also plays stellar defense and can knock down a jump shot when called upon.

Schofield is a key piece for the Vols, averaging 16.2 points per game and 6.1 rebounds per game. Schofield has been a nightmare in the post and can shoot three pointers. The Vols finished second in the SEC and are looking for revenge in the 2019 Tournament.

The one thing that is unique about the tournament is the fact that small schools that are equally talented have the chance to prove their worth against the established powerhouse schools.

The first team is UC Irvine. They have won 16 straight games going into the tournament including winning the Big West title to get the automatic bid into the Big Dance. This team plays with a slow, methodical pace and that could help them take out bigger opponents early on.

The second team is Murray State. Murray State is led by top 3 pick in the NBA draft, Ja Morant. The Racers come into the tournament on an 11-game win streak and are right at the top of the field with points scored per game. If Morant and the Racers get hot they could make it really far in this tournament. Not only are they a popular upset pick for the first round, but they could be a popular pick for the entire tournament.

The third team is Wofford, which isn’t a true underdog because they entered the tournament as a 7-seed but boy are they exciting to watch. The Terriers are led by Fletcher Magee. Magee is averaging 20.6 points a game and is shooting an astounding 43 percent from three. The Terriers are also on a 20-game win streak in which they won the Southern Conference Tournament and got an automatic bid into the tournament.

Travis Politakis and Reese Williams can be reached at travis.politakis@theminaretonline.com and reese.williams@spartans.ut.edu

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