The Bracket Busters

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Nevada’s Caleb Martin will look to dominate and lead his team on a deep run in March Madness. (Photo courtesy of John Byrne, Nevada Communications)

One of the most anticipated sporting events of the year has arrived. Every year, March Madness provides a perfect showcase of the best basketball teams in the country while also giving a platform to the smaller schools who, while they are the best of their respective conferences, are often overshadowed. But sometimes, the perfect amount of chaotic energy is injected into the tournament and upsets happen left and right.

Here’s a list of teams that could wreak havoc and bust a lot of brackets.

Buffalo

One of five teams in the state of New York that will be playing in the tournament, Buffalo has been one of the most dominant teams in the NCAA this season with only three losses in 31 games during the regular season. Head coach Nate Oats is in his fourth year coaching the team, and his winning percentage is his best yet going into the NCAA tournament.

The team is made up of plenty of great talent, with the standout player being senior guard C.J. Massinburg. He averaged 18.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and three assists per game and won Mid-American Conference Player of the Year honors. Senior guard Jeremy Harris has also played a leading role on this team with a 14-point average and 2.9 assist average while senior forward Nick Harris, off the bench, has scored 14.4 points per game and leads the team in rebounds. The offensive-heavy team ranks fifth nationally in points per game and 15th in points total. Their ability to run up the score will be a test for any higher ranked team that has weaknesses on defense.

Murray State

If you follow college basketball but don’t look too much into the mid-major teams, this year’s Murray State team might be relatively unknown to you. The Ohio Valley Conference where the team resides has been one of the better lower conferences in basketball this season, and the Racers have been able to compete with almost everyone. They rank seventh in the nation in field goal percentage, 12th in points per game and 22nd in points total.

The star of the show has been Ja Morant, who was named OVC Player of the Year. He leads the nation in total assists, assists per game, total points produced, points produced per game and assist percentage. He’s eighth in the nation with 24.6 points per game. The sophomore guard will be hard to stop when the tournament gets underway.

Nevada

(Editor’s Note: Following the publishing of this article in print, Nevada lost to Florida in the first round)

Although it has slowed down as of late, Nevada is still a tough team to deal with. While the team isn’t statistically among the best teams in the league, they have only four losses on the season. They had a 14-game winning streak to start the season and didn’t lose again until late in February. The balanced attack the Wolfpack presents to opponents makes it harder to beat them.

Senior forward Caleb Martin, 2018 Mountain West Player of the Year, has once again had a great year for the team leading them with 19.2 points per game. His range as a shooter has helped the team build insurmountable leads that opponents can’t come back from. Meanwhile, senior forwards Jordan Caroline and Caleb’s twin brother, Cody Martin, bring their own specialty to the table, with Caroline being the best on the team in rebounds while Cody has been the team leader in assists.

Wofford

If this team didn’t win their conference championship, they would’ve gotten an at-large bid into the tournament. That’s rare for mid-major schools to get that opportunity, but Wofford is special. The team hasn’t lost a game since December and was undefeated in Southern Conference play this year. The team is ranked third nationally in total points and second in total field goals.

The player to watch on this team is senior guard Fletcher Magee, who just won his second conference player of the year award in a row. His 20.5 points is among the best in the nation, but he’s specifically great at shooting three-pointers. His 151 successful three-point attempts is the best in the nation, with 135 being second-best. Senior forward Cameron Jackson leads the team with 7.5 rebounds per game, making him a perfect complement for a centerpiece like Magee.

No team has been able to stop this team in more than three months, and that’s why the prospect of playing them in March Madness should be terrifying.

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