March Madness Preparation Guide

Five weeks. Five weeks of complete and total madness.

The Summit League, along with other mid-major conferences, will officially kick off the college basketball postseason with conference championships this weekend.

The Summit League is a great example of what can go on in March. Any team can win on any given day. Just look at what Omaha did to North Dakota State last weekend, or either one of the NDSU-Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis games this year.

Remember, this was an NDSU side that was 2.5 games clear at the top midway through the conference schedule. The rest of the conference made them a target and shot them down to second behind South Dakota. Expect both teams to have targets on their backs this weekend.

The only thing for certain this weekend is someone will be heading to the NCAA’s.

Tickets to the Big Dance will start getting punched, and in two more Sundays, it will be Selection Sunday. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has had the Summit League leader (NDSU or USD) at a No. 15 seed.

Strap in, because this may be the craziest year in recent memory.

It is hard to get a beat on the men’s field. Gonzaga looked to be the unbeaten warriors, but a home loss to Brigham Young University struck that away from them. New No. 1 Kansas has three losses and had to fight back against Oklahoma on Monday.

Preseason favorite Duke has been the poster-boy for the craziness this year. Win a bunch of games, loss four of seven, win seven straight and get tripped up in the last two.

This has the feeling of a year where all the big names fall, or none of them do.

Looking at Lunardi’s latest predictions, it is hard to find a crazy amount of upsets, the exception being Florida Gulf Coast at No. 15. The committee surely knows better than that.

A team that won’t be falling is the University of Connecticut women. Their season finished with another zero in the loss column and 104 straight wins as it stands now. The only madness here is the margin of victory.

But, it serves as a reminder that there are other things going on in March.

MLS is back, and a new era of top-flight sports has entered the Midwest. Minnesota United begins play March 3 at Portland. March 12 will be the first home game against fellow expansion side Atlanta FC at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

NASCAR will hit full swing in its three-stage foolery. There is a changing of the guard happening, and the new youth movement has brought a much-needed energy.

NHL and NBA begin crunch time in the playoff chase. It is worth noting that the Minnesota Timberwolves are just 2.5 games out of the playoffs.

If you have nothing better to do March 24 and 25, the first rounds of the NCAA men’s hockey championships will be in Fargo at the Scheels Center. Should they make it in, UND will be there.

But honestly, this is the month of basketball. At least the good news is that the rounds of 64 and 32 are over spring break, so there is no watching in class.

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