In March, madness reigns supreme

Jacob Cocciolone Roar Pro

By Jacob Cocciolone, Jacob Cocciolone is a Roar Pro

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    Strap yourselves in, the upsets are coming.

    Two words.

    March Madness.

    There is something about the month of March that brings out the best and worst in athletes across the states of America.

    Beyond the bands, the adrenaline and the chaos of thousands of screaming fans, only one team can reign supreme in March.

    As an Australian sports fan looking from the outside in, March Madness has an aura about it, bringing together schools and cities across a nation to achieve the unthinkable - a Cinderella story.

    Australia has and probably will never see anything like it. Yes, there are university games, but the sport is taken to a different level in the United States.

    Everything is taken to a different level in the United States.

    With growing interest in US sports upon Australian shores – in particular, the NBA with the rise of Australian Ben Simmons – it is only natural that as the sports-hungry fans we are, we become familiar with arguably the most competitive sporting tournament in our modern-day world – March Madness.

    Australia loves an underdog. Think shots at the buzzer and games going down to the wire. Think players and coaches getting in each other’s faces, screaming at referees as their season comes to a dire conclusion.

    March really is mad.

    With the potential to whet the appetite of even the most unappreciative sports fan, the month of March leaves you on the edge of your seat, rooting for an 18th seed team from a city you cannot even pronounce - St. Bonaventure Bonnies, I’m looking at you.

    Trust me I was sceptical once, but beyond the intense levels of testosterone and adrenaline that comes with collegiate sports, you witness the rise of potentially the next biggest thing in the game, transcending through the ranks and taking that next step into professional basketball.

    Think of the hype surrounding UCLA and Lonzo Ball in 2017 or LSU and Ben Simmons in 2016.

    Lonzo Ball dribbles against Ben Simmons

    (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

    Scouting through future prospects, analysts draft big boards and predictions a year in advance. The competition is that intense.

    Players have the potential to transform their own lives as well as the lives of their families around them with big-time performances and paychecks dangling in front of their eyes.

    With that comes my three predictions for who will make the month of March their own, sending draft stocks soaring.

    Trae Young
    Oklahoma is probably, scratch that, definitely the team you want to watch just to see this guy play ball. PAC 12 freshman of the year Trae Young is averaging the highest marks seen over the past decade in the NCAA PAC 12 division, putting up 27.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 8.9 assists.

    Having gone 2–8 throughout February did not help the Oklahoma Sooners’ cause. This team is my flop, with Young looking to carry this team on his shoulders.

    Look to Young to lead the side in March putting up more outrageous numbers in a battle with fellow countrymen for top draft honours.

    Devonte Graham
    Leading the charge for the Kansas Jayhawks is the PAC 12 player of the year. Under Graham, Kansas has gone 21–7, which is pretty remarkable considering the loss of the likes of Josh Jackson and Frank Mason III, the first and second scorers for Kansas State throughout their NCAA run last year.

    Working in Graham’s favour is the cohesion created through a successful run this year, with Kansas State possessing arguably the best team and individual dynamics across the country.

    Michael Porter Jr
    Gordon Hayward-esque, when Porter Jr went down after some 127 seconds against Iowa State in Missouri Tigers’ first game of the season, he did not think he would play again this year, squandering chances of top prospect status in the 2018 NBA Draft.

    Thursday marked Porter Jr’s return for Mizzou, adding instant depth to a side who can only grow from fourth in the SEC conference. Watch out for this guy.

    Duke, Villanova, Xavier and Kentucky are all the usual candidates, ranked high every single year. Yet there is a change in the air and you could feel it with North Carolina last year, a team with consistency yet not your stereotypical success story, finally breaking the mould and taking the next step to achieve the penultimate prize.

    How do then teams like Oklahoma or even the likes of Saint Mary’s, who have been written off despite the talent they possess, achieve the penultimate prize?

    Upsets – after all, in March, they are inevitable.

    Getting hassled by a parent or partner about spending too much time playing video games? Now, you can tell them the story of how some ordinary gamers scored $225k for just seven weeks of work.

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    The Crowd Says (11)

    • March 12th 2018 @ 7:05am
      i miss the force said | March 12th 2018 @ 7:05am | ! Report

      there are very few upsets in March madness. LSU and simmons didnt even make the tournament. Australians dont take to loud mouths like Ball. they also will never take to a farce where hundreds of players receive zero payment while their schools and their coaches receive billions and millions. Australians watch the NBA which is superior in every way

      the reason the NCAA tourney is popular in USA is the obsession they have with their alma mater and hte opportunity to gamble. nowhere else in the world has this farce

      • March 12th 2018 @ 9:51am
        Aaron Callaghan said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:51am | ! Report

        You’re so negative all the time bloke, try and enjoy life occasionally.

        1. There is usually 2-3 upsets each tournament. It’s all relative however considering how the seeding is carried out.
        2. Lonzo Ball isn’t actually a loud mouth, he doesn’t say a whole lot and doesn’t say the right things but his father is the loud mouth.
        3. For the foreseeable future, college basketball will be confined to basketball fans, I don’t think it has any mainstream appeal.
        4. To call march madness a farce is completely illogical.

        March madness is great, pick a good team and follow along. Enjoy the ride. I’m going with Virginia.

        • March 14th 2018 @ 4:17pm
          i miss the force said | March 14th 2018 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

          march madness isnt a farce, the whole industry of college basketball is a farce

      • Roar Pro

        March 12th 2018 @ 9:58am
        Jacob Cocciolone said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:58am | ! Report

        You would be surprised at how many fans Lonzo Ball actually has in Australia – not because of his name, because he can actually play. The NCAA does pay out lots of money to schools. From the $1.05 billion in total revenues they reported in 2017, about $560 million got paid out to Division I schools. A lot of that money goes to scholarships and the funding of athletic programs in sports that do not get as much coverage as the likes of basketball. If the money really went to athletes, they’d be allowed to take it and spend it on what they wanted and would be bankrupt in a second. NCAA rules prohibit schools compensating players beyond scholarships and certain cost-of-attendance payments. There is enough enticement to work to get into the NBA or play professional basketball overseas, then receive that big pay check.

        The reason the NCAA tournament is so popular is because it brings together towns and cities who may not have many sporting teams other than College basketball. It allows players to show their worth on the big stage to NBA scouts and it presents opportunities for the future. Fans love a contest and the NCAA thrives off this thirst for sport, hence why it generates such a large amount of revenue, with tv rights being the significant factor, due to the popularity nationwide.

        Imagine in Australia if the NBL scored a major television rights deal that allowed millions to be pumped into the game. We would see much greater emphasis on Australian basketball, keeping fans with a close eye on the game within our own backyard. It would also entice more college and NBA prospects who go undrafted with the opportunity to come to Australia to not only witness our country, but further develop their game within the NBL.

        • March 14th 2018 @ 4:18pm
          i miss the force said | March 14th 2018 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

          yeah, dont pay the players because they cant be trusted with it. slave labour

          • March 15th 2018 @ 5:19am
            That Guy said | March 15th 2018 @ 5:19am | ! Report

            The players are most certainly compensated. The cost of a four-year scholarship can be upwards of a quarter million USD (granted, at more expensive schools), and it gives other intangible benefits.

            Consider all that it entails: tuition, out-of-state fees at public universities, room, board (which can essentially be unlimited food for those looking to put on weight), mandatory academic tutoring, books, laptop & other supplies, career counselors, and a small stipend of spending money, not to mention comprehensive health coverage (medical, vision, & dental), which by itself could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in case of a serious injury, and disability insurance.

            That doesn’t even factor the value of the teaching that they are receiving in their chosen sport, strength & conditioning coaches, athletic trainers, and weekly auditions in front of the pro scouts. And of course the value of the academic degree that they are pursuing is worth something, too!

            Would it make you feel better if the players were given a huge check which they would then immediately turn over to the university’s bursar’s office to pay for all of that?

            Calling the players slaves only damages your already thin argument. They know what they are entering when they sign the papers.

      • March 17th 2018 @ 2:48pm
        Aaron Callaghan said | March 17th 2018 @ 2:48pm | ! Report

        “there are very few upsets in March”

        Eat your words pal!

    • March 12th 2018 @ 12:48pm
      Ironmonger said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

      • Roar Pro

        March 12th 2018 @ 12:55pm
        Jacob Cocciolone said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

        ‘Penultimate’ as their are no other college sport prizes that surpass NCAA tournament honours. The only prizes that top this in the US is an NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB championship.

    • March 13th 2018 @ 10:25am
      Nate said | March 13th 2018 @ 10:25am | ! Report

      What are the odds on Grayson Allen doing something stupid like tripping or hip checking someone?

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