Around the Top 25: March Madness Edition
March Madness is right around the corner, and the Top 25 begins to lose its significance.
However, let’s break down some of our favorite teams receiving Top 25 votes, and how their odds look going into the first round of the tournament.
We’ll begin in the South region, as 9-seed West Virginia takes on 8-seed Maryland.
The Mountaineers and Terrapins kick off the Round of 64 in exciting fashion, and the projected winner is up in the air. West Virginia is being given a 50.1% chance of victory by ESPN’s matchup predictor.
The Mountaineers will rely on senior Erik Stevenson to lead the way, averaging 15 points a night. Stevenson shoots 43.6% from the field on the year, and nearly 80% from the line— so keeping him in check will be the top priority for Maryland.
The Terps sport one of the Big 10’s most exciting guards, Jahmir Young. The 6-foot-1 senior from Upper Marlboro showcases elite speed and athleticism, notching nearly 16 points and five rebounds a contest. This matchup will be decided by a difference in guard play, and which team’s veterans can step up to the task.
The late evening matchup that many will be tuning in for is a classic 5-12 bout, between the 5-seed Duke Blue Devils and the 12-seed Oral Roberts Golden Eagles.
This will be one of the more highly anticipated matchups between two teams coming off conference tournament championships. The Golden Eagles won the Summit League, completing an unbeaten season within the conference itself. Oral Roberts went 18-0 in conference, and capped it off with an automatic bid.
Duke also won its respective conference, defeating the likes of current 4-seed Virginia and 5-seed Miami to capture their ACC crown. The Blue Devils come in blazing hot, winners of nine games in a row.
That could all come to an end Thursday, as many are picking the 30-4 Golden Eagles to pull off the upset. They are spurred by talented guard Max Abmas, who is ranked seventh in the country in scoring, averaging over 22 points per game.
Duke presents a challenge for the Golden Eagles inside, as they start a bigger lineup with forwards Kyle Filipowski and Dereck Lively II. The 7’ freshman Filipowski is in the running for ACC Freshman of the Year, and for good reason— he’s putting up 15 points and nine boards a night.
Thursday’s night cap displays an intriguing 7-10 battle, between 7-seed Texas A&M and 10-seed Penn State. ESPN’s matchup predictor is giving the Aggies the edge in this one, with a 64% chance of victory.
Similarly to the West Virginia-Maryland game, this one will be decided by guard play. Penn State presents a very small lineup, and the Nittany Lions typically start four guards and a center. The man to watch for is senior Jalen Pickett, who’s 18-7-7 season statline earned him All Big-Ten honors.
On the other hand, the Aggies have a premier guard of their own in Wade Taylor IV. The 6-foot-0 sophomore from Dallas has turned Texas A&M around in the second part of the year, leading them all the way to the SEC Championship. He’s averaging 16.5 points per game.
Let the madness begin!
Parker Silverman is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email email@example.com.