The do’s and don’ts for March Madness
by Patrick Stevens, USA TODAY Sports
BUY: Shaka Smart
The Virginia Commonwealth coach is 20-5 in his career in the postseason, be it in a conference tournament, the NCAA tournament or the CBI in his first season with the Rams. Smart’s teams have never lost a tournament opener of any kind, so bank on VCU making at least a multi-round run.
The Tigers haven’t won an NCAA tournament game in the three years since John Calipari left, and a limited resume (their only three top-50 wins came against Southern Mississippi) makes you wonder how much their 30-4 record reflects how viable they are to make a deep run.
The Bulldogs have reached 16 consecutive NCAA tournaments, winning at least one game in each of the last four years. Even though they’ve been stuck plowing through the West Coast Conference schedule the last two months, this is a talented, deep, veteran team capable of reaching the program’s first Final Four.
SELL: New Mexico, if you believe past performance is indicative of future results
Was there some bad Lobo mojo in the past? Perhaps. It’s shocking to think New Mexico, long a solid program with a history of stellar support in Albuquerque, has never won consecutive NCAA tournament games. Six of New Mexico’s last seven NCAA appearances have ended in the round of 32, but one thing is different now: This might be Steve Alford’s best Lobos team, and certainly one of the finest in school history.
BUY: At least one 12 seed
Someone out of the group of No. 12 seeds will make it to the weekend; at least one No. 12 has advanced to the round of 32 in all but one of the last 12 years, with at least two of them moving along at least twice. That’s the easiest place to look for an upset.
SELL: Pac-12 powerhouses
In the last four NCAA tournaments, only three Pac-10/Pac-12 teams have escaped the first weekend: 2009 Arizona, 2010 Washington and 2011 Arizona. Of that group, both the ’09 Wildcats (No. 12) and the ’10 Huskies (No. 11) were double-digit seeds. That’s not a great recent history for the likes of Arizona, Oregon and … [For more on NCAA tournament buy or sell: The do's and don'ts for March Madness, click here.]