March is almost upon us, and with all three major local programs in play for March Madness, the KC metro is buzzing (Sorry UMKC, maybe next year...) With the Big 12 tournament AND March Madness Regional matchups coming up in the city as well as KU, Kansas State, and Missouri all more than likely heading for the tournament, there's plenty reason to. It will be interesting to see where these programs end up, in a perfect world they all land in the Midwest so they can play in KC. Only in a perfect world though more than likely, so let's analyze where exactly the three programs might end up.
Kansas, if all goes well for the rest of the season, may very well make a bid for the overall 1 seed. In all honesty, everything could go horribly wrong, Kansas could LOSE every game from here on out, and STILL be at worst a 4 seed. This team is good and they are hitting their stride at the exact right time. This is a very typical Bill Self coached team, and they have found their rhythm right when it matters most. Kansas has found their bench play, their big post player in Ernest Udeh, an all-around point guard in Dajuan Harris, their superstars in Jalen Wilson and Gradey Dick, and overall are managing a balanced offense and feisty team defense. They will be hard to stop, not impossible, but very, very hard. If Kansas can win out and do some damage in the Big 12 tournament, they will be the #1 overall seed, or if Houston and Alabama get thrown into a tailspin while KU stays the course. Shoot, KU could just win the Big 12 regular season title and I'd put them #1 overall given how tough the Big 12 has been this year (Let's be honest, Houston is in for a WAKE-UP call come next year.) You probably could have guessed this if you know me, but bias aside, KU controls their own destiny in regard to the #1 overall. I am picking them as #1 overall for that reason alone.
Prediction: #1 Midwest (Kansas City), #1 Overall
Kansas State hit a slide there for about 4 or 5 games before recently turning it around against Baylor this past week. This being said, Kansas State is still in a very good spot. Jerome Tang is a prime candidate for Coach of the Year, Keyontae Johnson and Markquis Nowell have been dominant and right up there with the best of not only the Big 12, but the nation, and many key players have dug out a role for themselves on a roster full of transfers and new faces. I don't think anyone expected this from KSU before the year, and even in the eyes of a Jayhawk, I am proud of this Kansas State team. It makes the rivalry fun and thrilling again and could lead to a great finish in Kansas City come Big 12 tourney time. Currently ranked 14th and predicted a 3 seed but have been ranked as high as 5th and bordering predicted 1 seed status, if the Wildcats can have a good finish and win the Big 12 championship in KC, they could vault themselves into high 2 status. Depending on what happens if that happens for Kansas State, they could even sneak into the 1 seeds. For now though, I think Kansas State will certainly keep to their winning ways, but will need some stuff to happen to hit those high 2 seeds/low 1s potentially. Taking a realistic approach, I have the Cats as a 2nd 2 seed.
Prediction: #2 Seed East (New York), #6 Seed Overall
Missouri has had their ups and downs this year, and when I say ups and downs, I mean higher than Everest ups, while having Marianas Trench downs. I'm talking beating their fair share of highly ranked opponents, not having a single loss outside of Quad 1 along with having 5 Quad 1 wins, having a first-year head coach with plenty of transfers and still managing 20 wins and more than likely will manage more highs, to getting beat by unranked Auburn and Texas A&M by over 20 points each, getting embarrassed in your own building by your most fierce rival in Kansas, and clinging onto a ranking EVEN though you have that kind of record against Quad 1 but STILL having it ripped away and kept from you. It may be a new day with more wins, but this is still Missouri basketball. Still causing heartbreak in their loyal fandom while still giving them glimpses of hope. However, this glimpse could actually be something. If Missouri can show what made them so good in December and January, spreading the scoring, rebounding efficiently, turnover prevention, and overall team play leading the way, Missouri can be insanely dangerous in the bracket. If they can hit their stride, in which beating a really good, also more than likely tourney bound Mississippi State is a good start, then Missouri can make a name for themselves as a 6, 5, or even 4 or 3 seed if they can manage to win the SEC tournament. For now though, most projections have them at a 10 seed, which me talking about them potentially being as high as a 3 seed should show you just how close to greatness, and just how roller coaster, this Missouri team is. I think if Missouri can build off this win and translate it into winning out and winning the SEC Championship even, then they will be a 3 or 4. For me, they can hit their stride, but how long does this one last? That will determine where Missouri will end up.
Prediction: #7 Seed South (Louisville), #25 Seed Overall
Mind you, these are very rough predictions. Anything could happen between now and Selection Sunday. College basketball is such a whirlwind this year anything WILL happen between now and Selection Sunday. What's most important for all three of these teams is to just keep winning and put yourself in the best position to be a juggernaut in the tournament. It's why hitting your stride in late February is so crucial, because it could define your postseason play as well. I hope for the best for all three squads, the tournament is meant for squads such as what we've seen with these teams. Teams that at their best, are the best in the nation, but achieving your best is easier said than done. We shall see what comes, stay tuned for more bracket news.
Burn Notice: 10/10 Now is the time to get hot.