March Madness: nothing short of insanity

March Madness: nothing short of insanity

Jaime Green/Wichita Eagle/MCT

Syracuse University's Scoop Jardine celebrates a shot made by a teammate in the final minutes of the game against Kansas State in the NCAA Tournament at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Saturday, March 17, 2012. Syracuse beat Kansas State, 75-59.

Mary Green, Editor-in-Chief

As the Sweet Sixteen weekend approaches, college basketball fans around the nation hope that the madness provided by this year’s NCAA Division I tournament does not subside. Though the all four number-one seeds have remained in the tournament, despite a few scares, many top teams have fallen and some Cinderellas have emerged.

Even though they faced some early adversity, the Syracuse Orange showed America that they deserved their number-one seed in the East Region. The team started off the tournament with the quick declaration of ineligibility of Fab Melo, the Big East Defensive Player of the Year and a shot-blocking machine.

However, the Big East regular-season champs fought back and tightened its trademark 2-3 zone with strong defensive coverage balanced by a quick scoring game and successful fast-breaks. The Orange earned wins over UNC-Asheville and Kansas State in the first two rounds and plays Wisconsin on Thursday. Behind the leadership and selfless play of Scoop Jardine, along with the unbridled talent of Big East Sixth Man of the Year Dion Waiters, the Orange have demonstrated their overall depth as a team, a factor that has help championship teams in the past.

The Kentucky Wildcats, the tournament’s number one overall seed, have also impressed during their journey to the Sweet Sixteen. Playing in the South Region, the Cats have easily overcome their first two matchups, Western Kentucky and Iowa State. Anthony Davis, a favorite for the Naismith Award, leads this uber-talented team in just about every category, including points per game, rebounds per game, blocked shots, and steals. Flanked by teammates Doron Lamb, Terrence Jones, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Anthony has established himself as an unstoppable force in the paint, wreaking havoc on opponents. The Wildcats hope his power can fuel them to Coach John Calipari’s first NCAA Championship.

Florida teams made a splash in the tournament scene as well. Though only the Florida Gators remain of the Sunshine State’s tournament entries, the USF Bulls and FSU Seminoles had impressive performances while their respective runs lasted. Florida State escaped a scrappy St. Bonaventure team in the first round before falling to Big East Tournament-runner up Cincinnati Bearcats in the second.

The hometown USF Bulls capped off their best season to date with a tourney bid, only the second time the school has reached the Big Dance. After beating the Cal Golden Bears in a play-in game, the team earned a convincing victory over the Temple Owls. However, Stan Heath’s squad fell in a close match with Ohio State in the second round, leaving the UF Gators as the last Florida team in the tournament.

The 2012 tournament is one of the most exciting to date, with gamechangers such as Davis, Waiters, and UNC’s Harrison Barnes vying for Outstanding Player accolades. The intense action is sure to continue through Thursday’s and Friday’s eight Sweet Sixteen games and until the championship matchup on April 2nd.