NCAA March Madness preview and predictions

It’s that time of the year again, when 68 college teams try to conquer the March Madness tournament. The first round consists of 8 different teams qualifying to enter. Once that’s over, all 64 teams are placed in a division ranked one through sixteen. The divisions/sections are called: Midwest, West, South and East. The 16 teams in each section battle it out to get to the final four. The best team in the South plays the best team in the East, and the same goes for the Midwest and West.

The selection day for the 68 teams is Sunday, March 12th. The first four (8 qualifying teams) games play on Tuesday and Wednesday, the 14th and 15th. The official 64 team bracket starts Thursday, March 16th, and goes to the second round on Saturday, the 18th. The first and second rounds both last 2 days. The 2 day format also applies to the Sweet Sixteen (3rd round) and the Elite Eight (4th round). The Final Four round is Saturday, April 1st, and the championship game is Monday, April 3rd.  

This year’s top teams include: Kansas, UCLA, Gonzaga, and last year’s winner Villanova. Kansas is currently ranked number 1 in the top 25. They have beaten 5 teams in the top 10. Kansas is carried by senior point guard Frank Mason the Third, and freshman superstar Josh Jackson. They for sure will get a number one seed in the bracket. UCLA will be a major threat with freshman point guard Lonzo Ball. He’s one of the most athletic guards in the NCAA this year. He’s also accompanied by TJ Leaf and senior Bryce Alford. These 3 players combined average 47.7 points a game. Their team altogether averages an NCAA best 91.3 points per game. They are more than likely to receive a number one seed.

Gonzaga looked to be a real threat after starting 29-0, but they lost to BYU by 8 points, and that loss sent them from ranked number one to four. Their biggest problem is that they don’t play in a good enough conference, which might prove why they had such a good record until they played BYU. They finished 32-1 and won the West Coast Conference Championship. Their team is led by junior guard Nigel William-Goss, who averages 16.9 points per game and 5.7 assists per game. They are more than likely to lose early in the tournament. They would be lucky to receive a number one seed, as the number two seed fits them better.

One last team that’s being talked about, coming into the tournament, is the reigning champs, Villanova. They defeated North Carolina in the championship last year after Kris Jenkins hit a buzzer beater three for the win. He’s now in his senior year and playing well, but the star player for Villanova is senior guard Josh Hart who leads the team in points per game with 18.7 and with 6.5 rebounds per game. Villanova has a great chance of winning the tournament in back-to-back years. They will have a number one seed.  

My one sleeper team is SMU. They are ranked 12th with a 27-4 record. They haven’t played many ranked teams, and their free throw shooting is only at 69%, but they have won 13 straight games. They have also won 23 of their last 24 games, only losing by 2 points to 22-ranked Cincinnati. Senior Ben Moore has been a lot of help for SMU; he has 11.8 points per game and standing at 6 feet 8 inches, he grabs 8.2 rebounds per game. SMU could go deeper than people may expect as they’re likely to be a 4 or 5 seed in the South section of the tournament.

Upcoming concerts

It seems like we’re being constantly bombarded by increasingly alarming or unsettling news, but here’s a happier note to balance it out: Spring and Summer of 2017 are definitely going to be good times for live music in Minnesota.

First, in less than a week, on March 12th, Panic! at the Disco, a popular alternative band, is going to be at the Xcel Energy Center on their Death of a Bachelor Tour. Just a few days later, on March 14th, pop princess Ariana Grande will be performing at the same venue for her Dangerous Woman tour,  and the day after that will see Miranda Lambert, a country singer-songwriter, there on her Highway Vagabond tour.

A lot of bands from the seventies, eighties, and nineties will be stopping by to play the Xcel as well: Eighties rock band Bon Jovi will be performing on the 27th, and on April Fool’s Day, Green Day, a punk band first formed in the nineties, will be there for their Revolution Radio tour. Iconic rock band Def Leppard will perform on April 21st, and May 11th will see the music of eightie’s bands Hall and Oates and Tears for Fears, who are currently touring together. On July 14th, Queen (with the addition of Adam Lambert) will be playing, and Roger Waters, from Pink Floyd, will be performing on July 27th.

The Xcel can’t have all the great performances though: at the end of July, on the 30th, Guns and Roses will be playing US Bank Stadium on their Not in This Lifetime tour, the first tour since 1993 to have the three classic members of the band (Axl Rose, Slash, and Duff McKagan) perform together. Shortly after that, on August 12th, Coldplay will play the same venue.

In conclusion, go get tickets before they’re gone!

College student crudely arrested for swastika vandalism

A University of Minnesota student was arrested Thursday, February 16th, and is accused of vandalizing a desk in the common area of his residence hall with a swastika. University police said they arrested the student,  identified as Matthew Gruber, on suspicions of vandalizing part of the 17th Avenue Residence Hall. The University student has not been charge with a crime yet, but they are holding him for suspicion.

The swastika was noticed by a University student, who reported that they found a swastika in their Pioneer Hall dorm room.

According to http://www.jta.org, the campus police told the local ABC affiliate, KSTP, “UMPD takes incidents and reports of bias related crime very seriously. These cases are comprehensively and completely investigated.”

Since December, there have been seven reports of swastikas, neo-Nazi propaganda and other anti-Semitic graffiti at the University, according to the University’s Bias Response and Referral Network.