NCAA

Fresh Takes: So this is why they call it March Madness

Fresh Takes: So this is why they call it March Madness

The NCAA tournament kicks off in full on Thursday. For our new feature, Fresh Takes, Travis Thomas reveals his Final Four - and why this could be worthless or the most useful advice.

Every year I sit and stare at my bracket with a blank stare. I can never understand why I have such a brain fart when it comes to filling this piece of paper out.

I watch college hoops religiously, I bet games, I can rattle off projected lottery picks stats like nobody’s business.  

Yet, when it comes to filling out my bracket, the initial response in my head is always crickets. I think of every possible cinderella scenario, I think of great coaches, I think of the blue blood programs and traditions, I think of revisionist history and most of all, I think of having a perfect bracket. Usually by the time the dust settles and my ink dries, I’m always left with a 50/50 fallout.

Either I have a great bracket that elevates me to legendary status in my office pool or my prognostications are a complete and utter disaster zone.

Here's my Final Four:

Michigan State: Tom Izzo is the only mad scientist this side of Duke who can cook up a defensive game plan to naturalize Thanos AKA Zion Williamson.

Texas Tech: They are one of the best defensive teams in the nation. To beat the likes of Michigan and Gonzaga, you better be able to stop somebody. 

Tennessee: I don’t trust UVA’s slow pace and defensive style in this type of tournament format. Tennessee is the only team in this region that can push the pace and score enough to outclass and outlast Virginia.

UNC: This is the team I’m picking to win it all. They have star power, a great Coach and they’ve beat Duke twice.  

But will I win it all? Should you even listen to the predictions of me or any other person who is given access to a platform like this? No idea. I guess that’s why that call it March Madness after all. 

Click here to join NBC Sports Washington’s NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge and compete against Wizards analysts Drew Gooden and Jimmy Patsos for a chance at great prizes.

Grand Prize: if you have the highest-scoring bracket in the NBC Sports Washington Bracket Challenge, you will win a 3-night trip for four people to Universal Resort, including round trip airfare, lodging, admission to Universal Studios and tickets to Blue Man Group.

Secondary Prize: If your bracket scores higher than both Drew Gooden and Jimmy Patsos, you win a coupon code for a free Jersey Mike's sub!

MORE NCAA TOURNAMENT NEWS:

Two more Georgetown players transfer out of program as Hoyas remain in turmoil

patrick_ewing_usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Two more Georgetown players transfer out of program as Hoyas remain in turmoil

Freshman Myron Gardner and junior Galen Alexander are the latest players transferring away from Georgetown. 

Gardner and Alexander are the two other Hoyas, along with former Georgetown player Josh LeBlanc, who received restraining orders from a Georgetown student back in September. The restraining orders stemmed from an incident involving sexual assault, harassment and a subsequent burglary.

Alexander, who also played at Jones County Junior College and LSU, announced his decision on Twiter. In the announcement, he criticized the university for their handling of the incident and lack of support. He also professed his innocence of the allegations he is facing. 

"I have been publically shamed, threatened, and criminalized. I have been falsely accused and targeted by the media and my peers of crimes I did not commit. My character has been defamed and that needs to be cleared up more anything else. Very soon it will come to light that I am innocent and had nothing to do with the false allegations," Alexander wrote.

"In light of the situation, the University has allowed me to become a target and subjected to unfair treatment, with little or no support."

Playing in all nine games this season, Alexander averaged 4.2 points and 2.7 rebounds a game in just over 12 minutes a contest. This included considerable playing time in their wins over Oklahoma State and SMU after the allegations were made public. 

This is not the first time controversy has followed Alexander. While at LSU he only played in 9 games before being dismissed by coach Will Wade for disciplinary reasons.

Gardner told the Washington Post of his decision just hours before Alexander's announcement.  He will enter the transfer portal after scoring 25 points through eight games in his first collegiate season. 

As a result of these transfers, the Hoyas have seen four players leave their program in 11 days. LeBlanc and James Akinjo, who was not a part of the initial incident, announced their intent to transfer back on Dec. 2.

Only nine scholarship players remain on the Georgetown roster with over two-thirds of the season remaining.

Already the team was facing an identity issue for the allegations of their players. While all the players are now removed from the program, it is clear they were upset with how the university handled the situation. Either way, it is a bad look. 

In the aftermath of the complaints, Georgetown lost a high-value transfer from D.C. 

MORE NCAA NEWS: 

Syracuse comes to DC with drama swirling around Hoyas

ewing_boeheim_usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Syracuse comes to DC with drama swirling around Hoyas

Georgetown's season has flipped on its head. A once-promising season is now muddled in controversy and the unknown of what the future has in store.

But, as the Hoyas continue to navigate their way through troubled waters, there is one constant that remains: playing Syracuse. 

The Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry will enter it's 95th chapter on Saturday at Capital One Arena. One of the best rivalries in college basketball still burns despite how far apart the worlds of both teams are. 

Decades have come and gone - along with their once-great Big East conference - but once again Patrick Ewing is the leading face of the Hoyas and Jim Boeheim is coaching on the Orange's sideline. Both of whom are going through two of the toughest years during their time at their respective schools. 

Georgetown (6-3) is in the midst of turmoil within their program. Two of their top six players abruptly left the program in early December. One of which was their point guard, James Akinjo, the other was their sixth man off the bench, Josh LeBlanc. LeBlanc and two other current Hoyas are facing legal issues as they all have restraining orders from a Georgetown student. 

Despite the issues, the team has won two of their three biggest wins of the season since. Road wins over Oklahoma State and SMU gave Georgetown two top-100 KenPom victories that will go a long way for them in March. In Akinjo's absence, the current Big East Player of the Week Mac McClung has delivered masterful performances of 33 and 19 points respectively. 

Sputtering to a 5-4 (1-1 ACC) start, things have not been smooth for Syracuse either. All season the Orange have struggled to find their identity with no seniors and five freshmen on the roster. Their shooting has been inconsistent and ill-timed mistakes put them in early holes. Redshirt Junior Elijah Hughes and the coach's son Buddy Boddy Boeheim have provided most of the offense, accounting for 47% of their points this season. 

A rough start is not what Boeheim is accustomed to - before their win over Georgia Tech, 4-4 was their worst start in his 43-year tenure.

This won't be the Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry of the 1980s or have the importance the games did in the late 2000s in the old Big East. But when the Blue and Orange take the court the intensity will be there for both sides. Ewing will be erratic on the Georgetown bench and Boeheim, well is Boeheim. The fanbases' disdain for one other will fill Capital One and all that energy should percolate down to the players. 

This is the final big test of each team's nonconference slate, but another chapter in the great rivalry.

MORE NCAA NEWS: