March Madness: Gonzaga, Florida look solid heading into tournament

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

It’s official, March Madness has arrived. The NCAA basketball tournament began yesterday (Tuesday, March 19) and continues today when eight teams face each other for the chance to make it into the main bracket of 64 teams vying for a national championship in Atlanta early next month.

Millions of college basketball fans and millions more who know absolutely nothing about the game or the teams involved only have a few hours left to fill out their bracket sheets. Some of those people will treat it as a science, hence the term “bracketology.”

Most people have a variety of reasons for picking and choosing their teams. It ranges from tournament seeding, to team nicknames, to conference affiliation, to uniform colors and team nicknames, and almost any other reason humanly imaginable.

This year’s tournament has all of the perennial powerhouses such as Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, Georgetown, UNLV, Memphis and Louisville. Those teams always seem to find their way into the “Big Dance.”

The one team from this area that may have surprised college hoops fans this season is Marquette University from Milwaukee. Not because they are in the tournament, but because of their seeding by the selection committee. The Golden Eagles earned a 3 seed with a 23-8 record. They will open up against the 14 seed Davidson Wildcats. They bring a 26-7 regular-season record into the tournament.

Other teams from around our region hoping to play their way to a spot in the final four include Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa State, Michigan and Michigan State.

I say keep an eye on the Gonzaga Bulldogs. They come into the tournament with a 31-2 record and always seem to peak during tournament time. They’re my pre-tournament pick to be one of the two teams that will find their way into the championship game. I won’t be shocked if the Florida Gators happen to be their opponent.

So, whether you’re in a pool with some co-workers looking to claim bragging rights, or you’ve gone online and signed up for a chance to win a million bucks in a national contest, it all boils down to a couple of things. You have to get lucky by picking that one 12 seed that always seems to upset the 5 seed and also knowing which teams are wearing this year’s lucky color.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at

From the March 20-26, 2013, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!