The Road to March Madness


Cherokee LeBeau

College hoops season is upon us. The normal blue bloods are at the top of the rankings as usual. As of November 19, the AP top 5 goes as follows: Duke, Louisville, Michigan State, Kansas, and North Carolina. It is early in the season, and we could be in for a few surprises.

The Duke Blue Devils come in at the top of the pack and have big expectations. The freshmen have big shoes to fill. After losing the number one and three picks in the NBA draft, Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett, the Blue Devils brought in a class of young but talented freshmen. Tre Jones has returned to Duke for his sophomore season after declining to enter the NBA draft. He brings the necessary leadership and experience to help guide the young devils to a deep post season run. Cassius Stanley, the freshman guard from California, looks to be the teams X-factor this season.

The Louisville Cardinals come in at number two and are one of the most experienced teams in college basketball this season. They are led by Jordan Nwora, a 6’ 7” forward, who is averaging just over 20 points a game. The senior Ryan McMahon will play a huge role for the Cardinals this year as he brings a lot of valuable experience to the court.

Michigan State has the top player in college basketball, Cassius Winston. The senior has been dominant in his career at MSU, and he’s shown no signs of stopping this season. Last year he led the Spartans past the Blue Devils to advance to the Final Four. Winston will be playing with a heavy heart this season after the death of his brother, who was struck by a train on November 9th. You can imagine Cassius will dedicate the season to his brother, and it could make for some story if he can lead the Spartans back to the Final Four in March.

The team to watch for that currently sits outside of the top 5 is the Kentucky Wildcats. UK lost their top three leading scorers for last year’s squad to the NBA draft, but to no one’s surprise they have reloaded with a top recruiting class. Tyrese Maxey headlines the star-studded Wildcats. In the team’s opener against Michigan State he dropped 26 points and lead UK to a victory. After losing to Evansville on November 12, the Wildcats have critics scratching their heads wondering what is in store for this season. I believe the Wildcats have what it takes to make a run deep into March and cut down the nets at the end of the season.

There is always a Cinderella story that shocks the world and makes a run in the tournament. Last year we had two teams make their first Final Four appearance in program history, Auburn and Texas Tech. We will have to wait till March to see which team will surprise us this year. The top of the field seems to be much more balanced than in past years, with the normal blue bloods at the top. One thing you can expect is that we are in for a show this season, and we all can’t wait for March madness.