A kid’s-eye view of March Madness


Likewise, Virginia Commonwealth guard Rob Brandenberg, inset, wants his team to continue playing smart basketball. (Steve Helber/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

It’s that time of year again: The NCAA basketball tournaments. March Madness. The Big Dance. I love looking over the teams, the brackets and the players to try to figure out which teams will make the Final Four. It’s like trying to put together a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle.

After all my studying, here are some serious — and not-so-serious — thoughts about this year’s men’s and women’s tournaments.

Local teams: I think the local team that has the best chance at the Final Four is the Maryland women’s team. They have the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) player of the year in sophomore forward Alyssa Thomas as well as a solid group of seniors. The Terps won their conference tournament, so they are playing well. Fear the Turtle!

But I don’t think either of the Georgetown teams will go very far. The Hoya men and women play hard, but they can go cold shooting the ball.

What’s in a name: Some team nicknames are so cool. My favorites include the Loyola Greyhounds, Long Island University Blackbirds, the Murray State Racers and the Lehigh Mountain Hawks. Speaking of names, it’s tough to have a better basketball name than that of Syracuse guard Scoop Jardine. And the Virginia Commonwealth University coach has a perfect name for a coach, Shaka Smart. Shaka must be smart: VCU is back after last year’s surprise visit to the Final Four.


Maryland guard Laurin Mincy is among the players hoping to make the Terrapins No. 1 in the NCAA tournament. (Toni L. Sandys/THE WASHINGTON POST)

Teams to watch: My picks for this year’s surprise team are Murray State and Wichita State. Murray State lost only one game and has lots of seniors and juniors. Wichita State’s experienced team has six players who averaged at least eight points a game. The Shockers — another great nickname — may be ready to do just that.

Player to watch: One player you should definitely watch is Elena Delle Donne. The 6-foot-5-inch do-everything forward led the Delaware Blue Hens to a 30-1 record while leading the country in scoring with almost 28 points per game. Delle Donne could have gone to a big-name school such as Connecticut, but she chose to stay close to home to be near her sister, who is blind and deaf.

Geography lesson: Someone should give the NCAA tournament selection committee a lesson in geography. They put Florida, Virginia, Long Island University and Norfolk State in the West Region. Norfolk, Virginia, is almost in the Atlantic Ocean!

Okay, it’s time to get serious. Here are my picks for the Final Fours.

For the women’s tournament: Maryland, Baylor, Stanford and Connecticut.

For the men: North Carolina, Wichita State, Missouri and Ohio State.

But I should warn you: I’m not that good at puzzles.

Fred Bowen writes the weekly sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 17 sports books for kids. His latest basketball books are “Hardcourt Comeback” and “Real Hoops.”

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