10 Things We Want to See Happen During Selection Sunday

  • Team celebrations

    For top teams and coaches, Selection Sunday is treated with a business-like “act like you’ve been here before” approach. However, for teams playing in smaller conferences, this is their shot to play with the big men on campus and they have every right to be excited. There’s nothing better than a lesser known school finding out its made the tournament and the camera cuts to take a wide shot in a non-descript gym while the team and its fans go nuts. The team may get blown out in round one but they’ll always have this moment.

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  • Kyle Wiltjer Gonzaga

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    Matchups of varying styles

    One of the best parts of college hoops is that teams rarely play the same style of play. The NCAA Tournament matches run-n-gun teams with squads that slow the pace down and wear opponents out defensively. Various zones and offensive schemes are on full display and there’s nothing better than getting an East Coast team that likes to slow things down against a West Coast team which likes to speed things up in the first round.

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  • Andrew Harrison Kentucky Wichita State

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    Balanced brackets

    Last year, No. 1 seed Wichita St. entered the tournament 34-0 and had a legitimate shot at making it to the Final Four. Unfortunately for them, they ran into a hot eighth-seeded Kentucky team who knocked them out in the third round. After winning the Big East Tournament, Providence was under-seeded at 11 and drew North Carolina, who beat them in a highly-contested game. Of course, these are the breaks of basketball and there are countless examples to point to but it would have been great to see Wichita make a run at an undefeated season and a Providence team that was playing really well get a better shake.

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  • "Who the heck is that?!"

    High Point University? Wofford? St. Francis? South Dakota State? Most can’t pick these schools out on a map. For a few days, these schools will be talked about ad nauseam during lunch breaks and water cooler conversations, if only so people can try to predict who’ll be the next Mercer. Remember last year?

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  • Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    5-12 matchups

    Like clockwork, the 5-12 matchup generates an upset every year. Because of that, the games become some of the opening weekend’s marquee matchups. Last year, three out of the four 12-seeds won and the trend continues to be one of the locks of the NCAA Tournament.

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  • Stanley Johnson

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Upperclassmen vs. freshmen

    One-and-done freshmen have led teams to amazing regular season success but the formula rarely works in the tournament. Outside of Carmelo Anthony at Syracuse and Kentucky in 2012, the eventual national champion is almost always led by an upperclassmen. Freshmen-led teams like Arizona, Duke, and Kentucky will be tested early and often by lower-ranked, senior-laden teams and players who have been to the Dance before. A quick look back to last year’s Duke team that featured future NBA pick Jabari Parker that got bumped by 14-seeded Mercer is further proof that top talent can be dismantled by experience and execution.

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  • D'Angelo Russell Ohio State

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    Potential top draft picks in tough matchups

    Duke’s Jahlil Okafor and Kentucky’s slew of projected top picks will have easy first-round matchups as No. 1 seeds but guys like Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell and Texas’s Myles Turner will be tested early thanks to their respective teams struggling this season. This will be a terrific opportunity for young players to prove that their hype is justified by performing on the game’s biggest stage. But, a bad game, loss or being shut down by the opposing team could spell trouble for their June prospects.

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  • Shaka Smart VCU March Madness

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    Young coaches with the chance to make noise

    Nothing better than an old guard vs. new guard coaching contests. VCU’s Shaka Smart shook up the college basketball landscape when his Havoc defense hit the Big Dance. Former Butler head coach Brad Stevens impressed so much with back-to-back Finals appearances that he earned himself a job with the Boston Celtics. Florida Gulf Coast’s Andy Enfield took Dunk City to a whole new level and became the darling of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Selection Sunday marks the first time a lot of these coaches are seen before they become household names. Who will it be this year?

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  • Demetrius Jackson, Bonzie Colson Notre Dame

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    Notable programs making returns to the Big Dance

    The Big Dance is always better when the NCAA’s premier programs are involved. This year should see the return of schools that have missed their chance to compete for a championship in recent years. West Virginia (2012), St. John’s (2011), Notre Dame (2013), and Arkansas (2008) should all hear their names called on Selection Sunday. (And ND is already in after winning the ACC postseason championship.)

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  • Tyler Ulis Kentucky

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    Duke and Kentucky in opposite brackets

    As much as everyone loves upsets and Cinderella stories, nothing beats having the two best (or in this case two most-hyped teams) battle it out for 40 minutes in the final. With both Duke and Kentucky sporting heavy NBA talent and likely both locking up No. 1 seeds, fans can only hope that they land on opposite sides of the bracket to set up a potential Duke-Kentucky final in Indianapolis.

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  • Penn State
  • Kyle Wiltjer Gonzaga
  • Andrew Harrison Kentucky Wichita State
  • Mercer Nae Nae
  • Stanley Johnson
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  • Shaka Smart VCU March Madness
  • Demetrius Jackson, Bonzie Colson Notre Dame
  • Tyler Ulis Kentucky

The NCAA Tournament is truly a sporting event like no other and it all starts with Selection Sunday, an event unique in its own right. Over the years, Selection Sunday has grown from simply drawing up matchups to a day that is prepared for throughout the whole season with sites and entities devoting jobs to tracking potential matchups with bracketology. It’s even been given its own television special, with lingo that’s specific to this specific event. This year, Kentucky is the odds on favorite but, as we all know by now, nothing is for certain once the calendar hits March — Kentucky itself was a No. 8 seed last year and made it all the way to the final. That unpredictability is the best part.

With the talent pool deep with freshmen and seniors lobbying for draft position — in what is turning into a very loaded draft — and hoping to go out on top before their careers are said and done, this year’s tournament will certainly live up to the hype. Not only is it a great moment for the trademark schools, it’s also a time for smaller programs to show that they have had great seasons and deserve the chance to give it a go against college basketball’s elite. Smaller programs like VCU, Iona, and Northern Iowa are built from the ground up and get their chance to shine each March. (Don’t forget about the kicks, either, as some of the top schools are rocking some ridiculous custom PEs.)

A week of exciting conference tournaments heavy with buzzer-beaters, close games, and breakout performances culminates tonight. Here are 10 Things We Want to See Happen During Selection Sunday.

Follow Peter on Twitter at @Peter_M_Walsh

image via Andy Lyons/Getty Images