By: Caden Kipfmueller
Note: This article was written before round 1 started
Mid March means the beginning of tournament season, which means several weeks of upsets, buzzer beaters, and busted brackets. Every year, so-called “experts” make big claims about knowing the outcome of games, but the reality is nobody really knows what they’re talking about and it’s useless to try to predict the future. The best way to have an enjoyable time watching during the tournament is to not care and root for teams with good vibes. Here are a few that best embody that ideal.
Oral Roberts and Colgate are two teams that are known for their dental themed names. They are also Cinderella’s in the making, although they both drew tough first round matchups in the form of Duke and Texas. That shouldn’t stop you from rooting for them however, as they are both incredibly exciting teams. Oral Roberts is led by Max Abmas, a dynamic and talented scorer who was present on the team’s last Cinderella run. Averaging 22.2 points per game, Abmas is unquestionably one of the best players in the tourney and could bust many brackets soon.
Colgate, on the other hand, is another double digit seed with lofty aspirations. Going 26-8 and winning the Patriot League for the third straight year and the fourth in the past five years. The raiders are viewed favorably by analytics, so perhaps the stars align and this turns out to be their year to finally make it out of the first round after coming close several times recently.
Iowa State entered this year’s tourney as a 6 seed, but many view that as an underseeding. In the 2023 season, the Cyclones logged quality wins against teams like Baylor and Kansas, proving they can beat tough opponents. The team’s X-Factor is Robert “Bobby” Jones, a 6’10’’ senior forward from Prior Lake, MN. Jones is one of the best players on the entire team, with a versatile defensive skill set and one of the best basketball IQs the sport has ever seen. Jones is getting a significant level of buzz from professional teams.
The seventh seeded Missouri Tigers boast the nation’s 10th best offense and a rather impressive resume. Unfortunately, they are not strong defensively, which typically does not bode well for a team’s tournament success. Their saving grace is their turnover margin. Missouri forces turnovers at one of the best rates in the country, playing safe offensively and opportunistic defensively. This strategy has led to some of the biggest upsets of the season and a narrow loss to Alabama in the SEC tournament.
The final team of note is the thirteen seeded Furman Paladins, fresh off of a six game win streak. Furman flies under the radar and has been all but written off by tournament “experts”, but the Paladins are exactly the type of unsuspecting team that can turn heads come March. They’re led by an elite guard who can score in bursts and lead the team on runs. They also have four players averaging at least 10 points per game. Furman’s high powered offense may surprise the casual March Madness watcher.