Jamming into the Madness

Mohamed Bafakih, Sports Editor

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It is that time of the year again.

Brackets will be busted, girlfriends and wives will be forgotten, and best of all — having the March Madness Live app on your phone to watch games live in class while your professor rants about how bad your midterm scores were (it won’t be me, cough cough).

Every year, it’s hard to imagine who will be that mid-major program to come out of nowhere and upset the Duke’s of the world… you know, Lehigh, Mercer.

You gotta love the underdogs. Dunk City (Florida Gulf Coast) in 2013 when they came in as a 15-seed and reached the Sweet 16, or Butler nearly winning the National Championship over Duke in 2010 on a halfcourt heave by Gordon Hayward that rimmed out.

Yes, Kentucky is clearly favored to win and if I wanted to play it safe in Vegas I’d have them going 40-0 and cutting the nets down in Indianapolis – a city where an hour away in Bloomington Bob Knight and the 1976 Hoosiers completed college basketball’s last perfect season.

What is the importance level of playing at the highest level of any postseason in all of college sports?

I got some insight from current Bakersfield Jam forward and former Miami Hurricane Adrian Thomas who was part of the madness in 2008 when the seventh seed Hurricanes reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament only to lose to number two Texas in Houston 75-72.

Also part of that team — Thomas’ roommate — Jimmy Graham. Yes, the newly acquired tight end for the Seattle Seahawks who played basketball for Miami from 2005-09.

Miami never really solidified itself as a basketball school due to the attention surrounding their long history of football success, but in 2008, the focus around Coral Gables was strictly basketball.

Thomas on heading into the Big Dance: “It was big. We got a lot of love around campus… everybody knew us.”

It was just Miami’s sixth trip to the tournament in nearly 50 years. This is what you love to see from a school that despite being in the ACC and gets overlooked by North Carolina and Duke get a shot to make some noise.

This year Miami will be a two-seed in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) – a tournament that Thomas says “is another chance to keep playing basketball, and its fun… especially if you’re a senior.”

However, for the main pool, it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Who has the best chance to actually beat Kentucky? Who will be the next merging small school?

I’ll be Joe Lunardi, or better yet, Moe Lunardi and give you a rundown of my bracketologist expertise.

Kentucky is in the Midwest region as the one seed and will roll over into the Sweet 16 but struggle a bit with Big-Ten newcomer Maryland. However they will pull it out and face even a bigger test in Notre Dame.

The ACC Champions, Fighting Irish, are playing their best basketball of the season and it will show, but it won’t be enough.

The “Diaper Dandies” or freshmen as Dickie V calls it, will take that next step closer to a title.

Finally I see John Calipari and the Wildcats play the Wildcats of Arizona in a game for the ages with UK winning and eventually completing a perfect season in the Hoosier State on April 6 against Virginia.

Sleeper teams: (14) Albany, (12) Buffalo, (12) Wofford

Teams that may go deep: (3) Iowa State, (4) Maryland, (5) Utah, (8) Oregon, (12) Wyoming

Feel free to chime in on ESPN’s Tournament Challenge by searching the group name “BC Rip.”

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