Let the Madness Begin!


Image made by Avery Fies through Canva

Villanova holds up the trophy after winning the NCAA March Madness Championship

After a long regular basketball season, March Madness is finally here! We are up and rolling as of March 14 with the two 16 seeds and two 11 seeds playing each other in the first four to set up the final bracket. Let’s take a look at the top 5 best matchups for the round of 32. 


Texas A&M vs. Penn State is one of the best matchups of the first round because they are two of the hottest teams in the NCAA currently. When breaking it down, A&M thrives on turning teams over and scoring in transition while slowing down the pace of offense. However, Penn State ranks third in the country with only 8.8 turnovers per game, in other words, the Aggies need one of their best defensive performances to advance to the next round. No. 7-seed Texas A&M vs. No. 10-seed Penn State is set for 8:55 p.m. CT on Thursday, March 16. 


Coming in second, No. 8-seed Arkansas Razorbacks vs. No. 9-seed Illinois is going to be one heck of a game. Both teams entered the NCAA season hyped up until the Razorbacks lost two players to injuries and the fighting Illini couldn’t keep up their consistency. Illinois is 4-6 over its last 10 games and Arkansas 1-4 over its last 5. However, both these teams have beat highly ranked teams that make us question their skill going into this year’s tournament. 


No. 8-seed Iowa vs. No. 9-seed Auburn is going to be a game you’ll wanna watch. The Hawkeyes are a high energy offensive team led by a potential first-round NBA draft pick, Kris Murray. However, Auburn’s backcourt of Wendell Green and K.D. Johnson is consistently making huge defensive plays that will challenge Murray. One thing we are looking out for, is the emotional aspect of the two coaches, who are known to be thrown out of the game when things don’t quite go their way. 


To my surprise, the No. 4-seed Indiana vs. No. 13-seed Kent State is one of the most exciting games to watch. While this matchup may seem obvious, it’s actually much more complicated. Kent State had lost to Houston and Gonzaga, two top rated teams, but both by under 8 points. Senior guards Sincere Carry and Malique Jacobs are both players that you need to watch out for. Jacobs is second in the nation with 89 steals this season and Carry averages 17.6 ppg. These guys are crazy on defense and will make it tough on Indiana star freshman guard Jalen Hood-Schifino. 


Two years ago Oral Roberts took down No. 2-seed Ohio State in the first round behind star guard Max Abmas. Now, they take on the 5-seed Duke Blue Devils. Abmas looks to take down the Blue Devils, who have won nine straight games with a full rotation of talented freshmen. However, No. 12-seed ORU takes over the nation’s longest winning streak with 17 games and is a potential underdog once again. 


We all know the best part of March Madness is obviously the madness. While it is nice to see your number one team make it all the way, underdog moments are ones we live for. Last year, it was No. 15-seed Saint Petersburg who took down No. 2-seed Kentucky, No. 7-seed Murray State, and No. 3 Purdue to reach the Elite 8 and become the first No. 15-seed to make it that far.


This year, the teams to look out for are No. 10-seed Utah State, No. 10-seed Boise State, and No. 12-seed Drake. Utah State plays on March 16 at 1:40 p.m. Boise State plays on March 16 at 7:35 p.m. Drake plays on March 17 at 7:25 p.m. These teams are ones you won’t want to miss! 


This year’s March Madness tournament is not one that will upset the fans. Fill out your own bracket now at ESPN to see if your picks will go all the way!