How the teams are shaping up for March Madness

How the teams are shaping up for March Madness
With Selection Sunday and the First Four games just weeks away, college teams across the region are preparing themselves for the 2019 NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament, known universally as March Madness. In most cases, this means that they’re out on the road, playing regular games that will not only let them hone their strategy but will also keep their players in good shape and give them the practice they need to be on top form in March and April.
However, the regular-season games ahead of the tournament also let pundits, fans, bookmakers and commentators get an idea of how the different teams are looking at the beginning of a new year. Indeed, January and February provide a veritable logbook of statistics to justify any predictions of just where a particular team is likely to be seeded, or indeed which teams are most likely to make it through to the finals. You can get a good idea by checking out the latest March Madness betting lines, but here’s a closer look at how the primary contenders are shaping up.
Dancing with the Devils
The most tournament-ready team has to be Duke. With a grueling schedule that shows no let-up as March approaches, they’ve been showing everyone what they’re made of all season. They’ve stayed solidly in the top four rankings, and Zion Williamson’s spectacular slam dunks have almost become a fixture of every game. It’s no secret that the Blue Devils have their eyes firmly on the championship, and they’ve got a phenomenal roster this year, with not just Williamson but also RJ Barrett leading the scoring. Sure to be a number one seed, Duke are a pretty obvious contender for this year’s tournament crown.  
Volunteers step up
Another team likely to be a number one seed this time around are the Tennessee Volunteers. For the Vols, it’ll be the first team in their history that have achieved such an honor. The Southerners have been chasing that accolade hard, but their 19-game winning streak was broken when they lost to neighbors Kentucky. That said, they still showed the same excellent form that has seen them rise from underdogs to serious contenders this season. The Vols are working hard and have a lot of fans rooting for them. 2019 could very easily be their year.
A Cavalier approach
The same could also be said of Virginia. Of course, the same was said of Virginia last year, when they entered the tournament as overall number one seed, only to be quickly knocked out by Maryland-Baltimore County, the overall number 16 seed. The Cavaliers are determined to live down that ignominious defeat, and in 2019 they’ve got the team to do it. De’Andre Hunter, Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome are the standout players in an impressive squad bolstered by Alabama transfer Braxton Key – a squad that’s been steadily notching up one victory after another. At the time of writing, the Cavaliers’ only significant loss has been to the Blue Devils, which is pretty impressive given the top-notch opponents they’ve been facing.
The Bulldog spirit
The other team almost certainly set for a number one seed is Gonzaga. The Zags have their critics, but the fact is that they’ve had an incredible season so far against an impressive roster of talent in the West Coast Conference. They’ve had to play hard, and no one will be able to honestly say that the Bulldogs haven’t earned their number one seeding, if they get it. Will that form carry them on through the tournament? The answer is that it just might.
The Outsiders
Away from the big names, what about the colleges battling to be selected at all? Texas have beaten firm favorites such as North Carolina and Kansas this season, and while their record isn’t exactly spotless, their wins have been impressive. Ohio have a tough schedule, but the squad has been battling it out, and one hopes that the selection committee has been paying attention. The Baylor Bears have struggled with injuries, losing both King McClure and Makai Mason for several games, but they’re still in with a good chance. Washington should also make the selection with enough solid wins to the Huskies’ credit to ensure a tournament place.
All the teams are doing their best to make the grade, and they know that they’re under close scrutiny. Of course, making the selection is one thing – staying in to the finals is quite another. Keep an eye on those odds and look forward to another round of absolute March Madness.