Let the NCAA madness begin

Ah!, let the dancing begin. It is the best time of the year for many sports fans.

It is the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament and it begins today with games galore in two of the four regions of the country.

Sixty four clubs have title aspirations. Only a select few really have a shot at the title.

But in the first round, anything and everything can happen.

For one event, the North Carolina-Asheville, San Houston State and Troy State teams of the world believe they can win a national title, even if most people would call them crazy.

Of all the regions in this tournament, the Midwest bracket seems the most turbulent.

Only top seeded Kentucky appears a sure lock to reach the elite eight.

From the middle of the bracket down to No. 2 Pittsburgh, upsets seem likely.

No. 12 Weber State, No. 13 Tulsa, No. 11 Southern Illinois and No. 10 Alabama look like they could make the region chaotic.

Weber State has 26 wins against suspect competition but has earned 17-straight victories and seems like a bad matchup for the methodical No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers.

Wisconsin’s fortunes rest on how well it imposes its tempo on opponents. The Badgers play good sound team defense and are disciplined in their half-court offense.

Tulsa’s game with Dayton sticks out as well. The Golden Hurricane finished second in the WAC regular season.

However, Tulsa won the conference tournament behind 23 points from leading scorer Dante Swanson in the title game against Nevada.

Dayton is a mystery to many people in the country.

The Flyers finished second in the Atlantic 10 West division behind Xavier. However, Dayton won 25 games and are ranked in the top 20 in the country (No. 16 according to the Associated Press).

Tulsa will not be intimidated by Dayton’s success and ranking.

Look for the Golden Hurricane to keep this game close throughout.

Southern Illinois is stocked with talent and finished first in the Missouri Valley Conference ahead of Creighton, which is also in the field of 64.

The Salukis did not win the MVC tournament but received an at-large bid based on their 24-6 overall record. Southern Illinois averages 75 points a game is shooting 38 percent from 3-point range.

The Salukis face a Missouri squad which advanced to the Big 12 title game. The Tigers ended the regular season with 21 wins and a fifth-place finish in the conference.

Missouri is averaging 72 points a game and was fifth in the Big 12 in scoring defense yielding just 66 points a game.

The Tigers were second in conference play in 3-point field goal defense. The Salukis will challenge Missouri’s team defense throughout the 40 minutes of play.

Finally, Alabama’s battle with No. 7 Indiana looks appealing.

The Crimson Tide’s entry into the field of 64 has shocked many people.

After all, Alabama finished with just 17 wins and ended up fourth in the SEC West division with a losing conference record.

Despite that, the Crimson Tide have something to prove.

Alabama shoots the ball at a clip of 42 percent and is averaging just 69 points per game.

However, the Tide’s athleticism may still be too much for the Hoosiers.

Indiana is a solid No. 7 seed and is playing in the friendly confines of Indianapolis in the opening two rounds.

It just appears as though the Tide and Hoosiers’ game is far from a certain lock.

If all of these upsets come to fruition, the biggest winner of the this region could be No. 3 Marquette.

The Golden Eagles could blaze to the sweet 16 without breaking much of a sweat before gearing up for a showdown with Pittsburgh.

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