TODAY marks the start of the 2019 NCAA Tournament with 68 teams all in the running to win college basketball’s ultimate prize. Over the next three weeks, 67 games will determine who is crowned national champions and it’s going to be hard enough to keep up with your favourite team – let alone watch every game. For that reason, I’ve highlighted the five squads that you need to watch to maximise your basketball enjoyment during March Madness.
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Tennessee Volunteers (29-5)
LET me get this out of the way early, I think the Vols are going to win it all in 2019. Grant Williams has a case as the National Player of the Year, they bat deep throughout their lineup with plenty of talented scorers and most importantly they’ll avoid Duke until a potential championship game. Even though they fell short in the SEC tournament game to Auburn, the Volunteers reeled off 19-straight W’s at one point this season, failing to lose for three straight months. I have a hunch they can do that again for three straight weeks and put a ton of points on the board at the same time.
Murray State Racers (27-4)
TWO words, Jah Morant. The projected top-3 lottery pick is having himself a SEASON, capturing attention around the globe for his sophomore antics. The buzz surrounding Morant has many experiencing déjà vu from a season ago when Oklahoma guard and now Atlanta Hawk Trae Young wowed with his own scoring/passing prowess. Racers’ fans will be hoping that Morant can lead the newly crowned OVC tournament champions further than Young did after Trae fell in the first round to Rhode Island in last season’s subsequent tourney. A tough matchup against scoring sensation Markus Howard and 5th seeded Marquette might be Morant’s only chance to prove his worth against a higher level of competition. If you watch one first-round matchup this tournament, make it this one.
Belmont Bruins (26-5)
IN just 12 short hours the Belmont Bruins will tip off this year’s tourney against Temple as they vie for a win in the First Four. Technically speaking the OVC tournament runners-up face a harder task than any other team in the nation with the chore of winning a play-in game, just to qualify for the big dance. They have a potential NBA prospect of their own in Dylan Windler who’s 21.4 points has helped transform the Bruins into the second highest scoring team in all of Division-1 behind only Gonzaga with 87.4 points a night. An offense that can catch fire that like that makes for a fun team to follow, should they top Temple after earning an at-large bid.
Duke Blue Devils (29-5)
DO I really need to point this one out? I mean the Duke Blue Devils are consensus favourites to win it all for a reason. With Zion Williamson back in uniform their ceiling is the roof in 2019 and they have the chance to go down as one of the best collegiate teams in recent memory should they complete the feat. Williamson may be the most exciting college player since, well ever, and a chance for him to enhance his legacy on the big stage is one you can’t miss. As soon as their run ends there’s little doubt that he, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish will quickly declare for the upcoming Draft, so make the most of them while you can.
Buffalo Bulls (31-3)
THE Buffalo Bulls have only played four tournament games in school history, but they picked up their first win ever 12 months ago. You may laugh at their lack of experience, however, Nate Oats’ men took on an Arizona team that boasted current NBA players like DeAndre Ayton and Allonzo Trier and beat them convincingly 89-68, almost a year ago to the day. Two of the top scorers from that game are still in a Bulls uniform, helping them to average nearly 85 points a game this season and right now, they tick all the boxes as a Final Four Cinderella story.
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