By Ethan Marsh, Reporter
UNCW’s journey to the Big Dance was all in the making. It really started when Coach Keatts was hired in the Spring of 2014. Keatts was hired off off Rick Pitino’s assistant coach staff at Louisville that produced the NCAA Championship in the 2012-13 season. Louisville went 1-1 against Duke that year, beating them convincingly in a 85-63 thrashing in the Elite eight and a close 76-71 loss in the regular season. Keatts experience serving under Pitino in the Championship season and in the 2 games versus Duke that year will serve UNCW well in its matchup versus Duke Thursday. Duke is the current defending National Champions as they won the 2014-2015 Championship. Coach Krzyzewski is in his 36th season at Duke and has won 5 Championships, including last season's. UNCW is excited to be the first team to have a chance at dethrowning the defending national champions from last season.
West part of the Bracketology The West part of the Bracket has our very own UNC Wilmington in it at the No. 13 seed going against the Duke Blue Devils, the defending 2015 National Champions at the No. 4 seed. The Oregon Ducks have had the 5th best season in their history at a 28-6 record which earned them the No. 1 seed in the West. Ivy League School Yale has been posted at the No. 12 Seed versus No. 5 Baylor. Yale is coming off a 22-6 season and has the potential to upset Baylor due to the fact of having big and great players. The winner of this Ivy-Baylor matchup will play the winner of UNC Wilmington and Duke. The Oklahoma Sooners are at the No. 2 Seed after posting a 25-7 record and coming off a sweet sixteen finish last season. The Texas Longhorns are sitting at the No. 6 seed in its 17th straight NCAA Tourney appearance and will play No. 11 Northern Iowa.
Midwest part of the Bracketology The Midwest features Virginia as the No. 1 seed with a 26-7 record while the No. 2 Seed Michigan State Spartans have a 29-5 record. The Syracuse Orange posted a subpar 19-13 record in Jim Boeheim's 40th year as Head Coach and still earned a No. 10 seed. Syracuse will play No. 7 Dayton which has posted an impressive 25-7 record of their own. The midwest will most likely be the most unpredictable part of the Bracket as it features teams such as Virginia, Michigan State, Syracuse, and Utah who have not been the most recent successful teams such as Duke, Uconn, or Kentucky. Teams such as Dayton, Texas Tech, Gonzaga, Butler, Fresno State, Purdue, or Little Rock could produce a run. The Midwest looks like it has the least potential of producing a higher seed in the Final Four as the teams in the top do not have as much of a proven history record and so the lower seeds have more of a chance to beat the higher seeds.
East part of the Bracketology The East part of the bracket features a fellow North Carolinian team to UNC Wilmington and Duke in North Carolina at Chapel Hill as the No. 1 seed at a 28-6 record, which is their best season since the 2011-12 season and has starred in the top 10 for the majority of the season except for a week in December. The Kentucky Wildcats, who have John Calipari in his 7th season and is coming off a final four appearance last season and a National Championship in the 2011-12 season and a runner up in the 2013-14 season, is at the No. 4 seed after posting a 26-8 record which included the SEC championship. The Wildcats will play the No. 13 seed Stony Brook, who posted a 26-6 record. Notre Dame has had one of their best seasons at a 21-11 season and is the No. 6 seed. The Fighting Irish will play the winner of Michigan and Tulsa. The Wisconsin Badgers, who is coming off their runner up finish in the Championship game last year, is at the No. 7 seed and will play No. 14 S.F. Austin in the first round. Xavier is at the No. 2 seed and will play No. 15 Weber State.
Possible Cinderella's this season The discussion of possibility of Cinderella’s is done every year. Cinderella teams are teams that are normally lower seeds and are not seen as likely to go far in the tournament but go far in the tournament or at least win against a higher seed team unexpectedly in the first round or deliver an upset. No. 13 Hawaii in the south part of the bracket is being seen as an upset against No. 4 California as Hawaii has posted an impressive 27-5 record, which is better than California’s. Hawaii is in a relatively low seed for their record and this is probably due to being in a not very competitive conference while California is in the PAC-12 under the No. 1 Oregon Ducks. Yale is being seen as an ivy league school that could possibly perform an upset.
Final Four Predictions Predictions for March Madness can be bold and completely wrong in the end because it is hard to predict what can happen. It is easy to think that the higher seeds will go far and possibly win. Predicting this type of tournament takes some realistic thinking but also thinking of all the possibilities. As being a student at UNC Wilmington, I would like to see the Seahawks go as far as the Sweet 16, if possible. I predict that Kansas will make it to the final four out of the South Bracket as they have had an impressive season and there is not any teams in the south that appear to be poised to upset them besides the Miami Hurricanes. Out of the West Bracket, I predict that Texas, UNC Wilmington, or Duke will make it to the Final Four. It is a hard decision in the West. Out of the Midwest Bracket, I believe Gonzago, Dayton, or Syracuse will make it to the Final Four. Out of the East Bracket, I believe Kentucky will make it back to the Final Four because I believe North Carolina will be beat at some point and Wisconsin is not as strong as last year.