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Bring on the madness: This won't be a boring month

Maybe tomorrow is just another Tuesday to you. Millions of college basketball fans around the world, however, know it's so much more than that.

Because March is here. Finally.

And it will feel like a monthlong birthday. Excuse us. For some, it may feel like a monthlong doomsday.

March builds the hope of entire fan bases and then, through frenzied conference tournament and NCAA tournament matchups, she slashes the bandwagon's tires. And exits always hurt, whether it's a first-round conference tournament loss by a young team or a missed opportunity by a veteran group in the Final Four. They'll both feel the pain for a long time.

But the joy within the journey from 340-plus programs to one is worth whatever heartache may arise.

So prepare for the excitement and brace for the agony.

Here are reasons we are sure this March will be mad:

68. Because so many doubt Villanova will solve its postseason problems
The Wildcats are as balanced as any team in the country, and Josh Hart guides a crew of elite talent that should make a deep run. But it's just difficult for a program that hasn't reached the second weekend since 2009 to convert its doubters.


67. Because we think Tom Crean will come to the Big Ten tournament wearing a white fur coat and smoking a cigar
Maybe he'll have a cane too. That's what you do when most assumed you'd get fired after this season but you instead led your Indiana squad to the top of the Big Ten. Hi, haters. Wait. We were haters too. So hello to ourselves, or something like that.


66. Because the nation might meet Kay Felder
Oakland's 5-foot-9 star leads the nation in assists and holds a top-five spot nationally in scoring too. He's a special player who will face his Horizon League foes in a conference tournament at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Felder's hometown. If Felder leads Oakland to a tourney championship, his fan club will expand.


65. Because Valparaiso won't let that happen
Bryce Drew's squad leads the nation in defensive efficiency (0.88 points per possession allowed this season) and Alec Peters (17.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG) is a 6-foot-9 dream-crusher who shoots 45 percent from the 3-point line. Warn your friends.


64. Because Louisville will miss the NCAA tournament and the ACC tournament
But that won't stop Rick Pitino from holding a media conference to remind everyone he's not pleased with his program's self-imposed postseason ban, the result of Katina Powell's sex-for-pay allegations.


63. Because SMU will miss the NCAA tournament and the AAC tournament
But the Mustangs could make the three-hour drive to Houston and ask the national champion to meet them at the playground.


62. Because Iowa State's Deonte Burton might snatch a rim off its foundation
You ever see him dunk?


61. Because Iowa State is one Jameel McKay outburst from imploding
It's never a good sign when a senior leader gets suspended in February.


60. Because Maryland fans can't handle this
The Terps include three players with potential NBA futures (Jake Layman, Melo Trimble and Diamond Stone) and a fleet of significant role players. They're a mismatch for most opponents. But who trusts them once they leave College Park? Put your hand down.


59. Because the projected No. 1 pick must lead his team to an SEC tournament title to earn a berth
And if that doesn't happen, Johnny Jones will face some tough postseason questions about the way he developed and utilized Ben Simmons.


58. Because the projected No. 1 pick could lead LSU to an SEC tourney title
The SEC ain't exactly Teflon. And everyone claims Simmons originates from the same freakish gene pool as LeBron James and other great players. Maybe he'll do something amazing in March.


57. Because Tubby Smith might wear a "How You Like Me Now?" shirt to the tournament
Texas Tech, 5-1 in its past six games, owns wins over Oklahoma, Baylor and Iowa State. The Red Raiders could reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007. Minnesota, it appears, made a mistake when it fired Smith in 2013. Looks like Smith will get the last laugh. And we hope he sells those shirts.


56. Because the Big 12 can't go bust again
The league will probably send seven teams to the NCAA tournament again. And the critics will hound the Big 12 if only two of those squads reach the second weekend again.


55. Because Cal looks dangerous
Cuonzo Martin's squad failed to match the preseason hype in the first three months of the season. But Cal, which features projected lottery picks Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown, enters the week on a seven-game winning streak. Who wants to play the Bears in the tournament?


54. Because Wisconsin could complete one of the season's best turnarounds
From a season-opening home loss to Western Illinois to a possible NCAA tourney berth? Bananas. Um, cheese curds.


53. Because Shaka Smart could end an impressive inaugural year with a great postseason finish
Texas could compete for the Big 12 tourney title in Kansas City and reach the second weekend in the tournament. Who thought that was possible in October? And why isn't Smart on your short list for national coach of the year?


52. Because an early North Carolina exit is inexcusable
The Tar Heels last reached the Final Four in 2009. They contain the pieces to compete for a national title. Everyone knows that. But an NCAA scandal, Roy Williams' age and health and a recruiting class that lacks superstars elevate the pressure on UNC. The Tar Heels might not put together another team this talented in Williams' final years. They have to win big now.


51. Because the WCC tournament is Gonzaga's only guaranteed ticket to the NCAA tournament
Weird to think a team that has reached every tourney since 1999 could miss the NCAA tournament without a WCC tourney championship.


50. Because Jim Larranaga reacts to foul calls with a unique, um, flair
He might toss a suit coat. Hurricanes officials should bring a few, just in case.


49. Because this is the last time we'll see Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet
Wichita State has a case for an at-large bid and will probably secure a berth barring any wild upset in the MVC tourney. Either way, we won't see one of the nation's most talented duos at this level again.


48. Because Jakob Poeltl is a monster you should fear
Trust us.


47. Because Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray could help Kentucky sneak into the Final Four
Yeah, it sounds weird. We know. Expectations for the Wildcats remain high. But this squad fell short of the standard last season's 38-1 team established and failed to match the obvious talent of the 2013-14 squad or previous Kentucky teams backed by NBA draft picks. In this season's field, however, Murray and Ulis could anchor another Final Four run for a Kentucky team that just needs its big men to protect the rim, run the floor and get easy buckets inside to uphold the possibility.


46. Because Andy Enfield is back!
He was the author of Dunk City when he coached Florida Gulf Coast in 2013 and he could return to the NCAA tournament with USC this season. Let's just hope the creepy in-game shots of his wife, a former model, will cease this postseason.


45. Because you're going to burn your bracket early
Like, Thursday. Yes. By Thursday.


44. Because a Final Four run would trump Kansas' Big 12 title
The Jayhawks need one more Big 12 title next season to match UCLA's streak of 13 consecutive conference crowns that started under John Wooden. That's remarkable. But the Jayhawks will enter the NCAA tournament as a No. 1 seed. And if they're upset early, a vocal "the Big 12 is overrated" crowd will pounce on the program. Its supporters would enjoy a trip to Houston, the team's first Final Four since 2012, maybe even more than the latest Big 12 title.


43. Because this is the first NCAA tournament with the new shot clock
The new rules improved the pace of the game by nearly four possessions per contest and increased the scoring average by five points per game. A 30-second shot clock was the right call. And now we'll see how it impacts the postseason.


42. Because a Boise State-Colorado State situation could ruin an NCAA tournament game
Officials ruled that James Webb III's game-winning 3-pointer at Colorado State earlier this month should have counted in a game Boise State lost in double-overtime. But NCAA rules do not allow the reversal of a final score. If the same situation affects a game in the NCAA tournament, however, a discussion about the validity of that principle could begin.


41. Because Tom Izzo leads the most dangerous team in America
Michigan State, which has won eight of its past nine, owns the No. 1 spot in Ken Pomeroy's ratings and its 43 percent clip from beyond the arc leads the country. Denzel Valentine has regained his Wooden Award-worthy swagger. And the Spartans could defeat any team in the country on a neutral court right now.


40. Because the Big East must prove it
To some, Xavier's nine-point loss at Seton Hall on Sunday, just days after the Musketeers defeated No. 1 Villanova and boosted their argument for a top seed, demonstrated the Big East's vast talent. To others, it backed their stance that the Big East ain't all that. The league is currently ranked fourth behind the Big 12, Pac-12 and the ACC by Pomeroy. But the Big East's 3-11 nonconference record against the BPI's top 25 ranks sixth among the seven major leagues, per ESPN Stats & Information research. The NCAA tournament should not serve as the only evidence of a conference's overall strength. That's not fair. If the Big East flops in the postseason, however, the doubters will say, "I told you so."


39. Because Hawaii isn't just a vacation hotspot
Stefan Jankovic (15.9 PPG) leads a Hawaii squad that could win the Big West tournament and secure a trip to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2002. It's an important moment for a program that's banned from the 2017 NCAA tournament because of former coach Gib Arnold's violations.


38. Because we don't know what to tell you about Dayton
Kendall Pollard, who missed four games because of a knee injury, returned Saturday and the Flyers still lost their third game in their past four matchups and their second consecutive home game. Saturday's home loss to Rhode Island turned the "Dayton will be fine" assumptions into "What's wrong with the Flyers, man?" concerns. This is a team with wins over Iowa and Vandy. They don't look like that team right now.


37. Because we don't know what to tell you about Oklahoma, either
On Feb. 2, Oklahoma had positioned itself to compete for the Big 12 crown. The Sooners had a 7-2 record in conference play, a stretch that followed a successful nonconference season (wins over Wisconsin and Villanova). Now, they're 10-6 after a 3-4 tally in their past seven games. They're no longer the best 3-point shooting team in the country and they're not tough in the paint. So Oklahoma's dream of sending its three seniors to the Final Four could end with a first-weekend, upset loss if its shooting and rebounding woes persist.


36. Because one of those seniors is named Buddy Hield
And the projected Wooden Award winner is averaging 25.3 PPG and shooting 48 percent from the 3-point line. So yeah, you wonder if Oklahoma will go cold and some team will upset the Sooners early. Then again, you know Lon Kruger has Hield. So you also can envision a Shabazz Napier-like rumble through the field for Hield and his teammates.


35. Because we spoke too soon on Kentucky, maybe
Saturday's loss at Vanderbilt magnified the flaws of this team. Murray scored 33 points and Ulis collected six assists and just one turnover, although he struggled from the field (5-for-20). They didn't have Derek Willis. That matters. But they're a two-man offense. That's a dangerous arrangement in March.


34. Because the entire American Athletic Conference is on the bubble
Well, not every team. But a bunch of them.


33. Because the Pac-12 might send everybody to the tournament
Well, not every team in the league. But seven bids ain't crazy. And eight is still conceivable.


32. Because we're not convinced any Pac-12 squad will reach the Sweet 16
So much balance in the league. But who stands out?


31. Because Utah just raised its hand and yelled, "We stand out!"
The Utes' victory over Arizona on Saturday was their sixth consecutive win. They've made 56.6 percent of their shots inside the arc, a top-five mark, and they have Poeltl (17.7 PPG, 8.9 RPG). As we stated earlier, he's a monster.


30. Because Arkansas-Little Rock (wins over San Diego State and Tulsa) is a mid-major you need to know
You don't want your squad to see them in the first round.


29. Because the glory will radiate from Mo Alie-Cox's hair
It's a majestic thing.


28. Because Frank Martin could lead South Carolina to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2004
And then we'll see him smile. Because he does smile. But the cameras usually catch him mid-scolding.


27. Because Rico Gathers' NCAA tournament could be an audition for the ... NFL?
Gathers, a 6-foot-8, 275-pound forward at Baylor, will pursue a career in football after his final trip to the NCAA tournament. Before you laugh, you should see him move. He's the size of a condo. Also, his brother was a high-school football All-American who starred at Georgia Tech. So NFL scouts probably will attend Gathers' postseason matchups.


26. Because the first team All-America squad is incomplete
Yeah, we know Hield and Valentine are on that squad. Now, fill the other spots. Kris Dunn? Ulis? Brice Johnson? Simmons? Poeltl? Jarrod Uthoff? Malcolm Brogdon?


25. Because something crazy will happen in a major conference tournament
Minnesota to the Big Ten tourney semis? Florida State to the ACC title game? Marquette wins the Big East tournament? That's crazy, right? Well, you haven't watched a lot of college basketball this season.


24. Because Duke haters around the world hope another Grayson Allen trip will cost the Blue Devils in the tournament
The sophomore only gave his critics more fuel when he tripped Xavier Rathan-Mayes in his team's win over Florida State last week. The ACC reprimanded Allen. And the haters called for a more severe penalty. That didn't happen. But they're hopeful Allen will make another mistake and the officials who will scrutinize his actions in the tournament will make him pay for his error in a crucial situation.


23. Because you don't know which Iowa will show up
And that scares everyone in Iowa City.


22. Because Saint Mary's could win the WCC tourney title
Now, your favorite squad is in the NCAA tournament matched against a team that, along with Duke, possesses the most efficient offense in America. Now, your favorite squad has a problem. That problem is named Gaels.


21. Because Florida State (7-10 in the ACC) just ended a five-game losing streak with a 21-point win over No. 23 Notre Dame
And that's really all you need to know about the 2015-16 season's chaos.


20. Because San Diego State will represent the Mountain West in the NCAA tournament
Unless the Aztecs suffer a bad loss in the MWC tournament. And that's wild.


19. Because we know North Carolina will win it all
Mark it down.


18. Because we know North Carolina will lose in the first weekend
Erase our previous thought. This will stick.


17. Because we might see a repeat of the 2011 NCAA tournament
An 8-seed (Butler) and an 11-seed (VCU) both reached the Final Four that season.


16. Because we might see a repeat of the 2014 NCAA tournament
Connecticut won the title as a 7-seed after heating up in the AAC tournament. Will another 7-seed pull off the feat? Is Shabazz Napier 2.0 here?


15. Because teams can't win unless they're home this season, it seems
Per ESPN Stats & Information research, No. 1 squads are 7-7 in true road games this season, a record in the AP poll's history. What happens when all of these teams face off on neutral courts?


14. Because Greg Gard is still an interim coach
And that should change in March. It must.


13. Because some key players could return from injury
Will Cam Ridley come back for Texas? Will Amile Jefferson play again for Duke this season? How healthy is Derek Willis right now? Will Tum Tum Nairns play major minutes for Michigan State now that he's back from a foot injury?


12. Because Virginia, at its best, can beat the best teams in the country
West Virginia, Villanova, Miami, Cal, North Carolina and Louisville all lost to Virginia this season. But the Cavs fell in matchups at Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Florida State. What does all of this mean? We're bullish on Brogdon's squad and do not think those road losses showcased its ceiling. Don't worry about January. Focus on Saturday's win over the Tar Heels.


11. Because we're still not sure about the "stars"
Will Wayne Selden show up for Kansas? Can Allonzo Trier handle the pressure at Arizona? Will Melo Trimble shake his slump in March? Will Kyle Wiltjer?


10. Because seniors matter so much right now
Perry Ellis at Kansas. The three seniors at Oklahoma. Brogdon and Anthony Gill at Virginia. Valentine. Brice Johnson at North Carolina. Seniors, not freshmen, dominated college basketball in 2015-16. Experience tends to diminish draft stocks in the one-and-done era. But we didn't care about that this season. The seniors were the most valuable players in the country.


9. And the postgame tears will be heavier because of it
This is the last chapter for an abundance of outstanding seniors.


8. Because we don't know how much longer Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim and Roy Williams will do this
They all say they'll continue to guide their respective programs in the coming years. But someday -- perhaps someday soon -- these legendary coaches will leave the game. This might not be the final page for the trio. But it's one of the last chapters.


7. Because the nation's top scorer will try to lead his team to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 24 years
Howard hasn't danced since 1992. But James Daniel (27.7 PPG) will try to change that in the MEAC tournament. And that's why we love March.


6. Because we'll watch first-year coaches grow
Will Wade and Michael White could take VCU and Florida, respectively, to the NCAA tournament. Avery Johnson's Alabama squad still has a shot. And even if Bama doesn't make it, an impressive showing in the SEC tourney could help Johnson on the recruiting trail this summer.


5. Because March is always crazy
We expect madness, right?


4. Because the top-10 frenzy and fluctuation suggest an off-the-radar squad could reach Houston and win there
So, Stony Brook called and ...


3. Because we're not sure how the tournament will be officiated
The hand-check foul emphasis has impacted the pace of the game. Offensive players have more freedom. The ugly action inside has decreased. But will that continue through the NCAA tournament? Or will refs "let them play"?


2. Because we've already imagined a dozen Final Four scenarios
We question all of them too.


1. Because we're probably wrong about everything we just said
And we're fine with that. We're just happy it's March. You should be too.