March Madness is finally back! By now there have been endless analyses discussing which teams are in, which teams are out, and which teams should have made it. But we’re presenting the tournament in a way that cuts down the useless stuff and highlights the good stuff. Let’s get to it.
Looking at all of the teams from the 1 seed (North Carolina) all the way down to the 16th seed (Florida Gulf Coast), the East Region is hands down the toughest region in the tournament, and according to some, may be the toughest region of all time. It almost seems like the tournament committee wanted to see some tough match-ups between schools —ahem, Indiana vs. Kentucky— that would never schedule each other during the year. This region is also filled with future NBA players, which should make for some must see face-offs. Each top team has legit concerns, though. Can top seed North Carolina shoot well enough from the outside? Can Kentucky play consistent enough with a young team? And West Virginia could play spoiler in this region with their pressing style of play.
Potential matchup everyone wants to see: (1) North Carolina vs. (4) Kentucky
Team that no one wants to play: (3) West Virginia
Upset that could really happen: None
Region’s best players: Kris Dunn, Providence; Tyler Ulis, Kentucky; Brice Johnson, North Carolina; Yogi Ferrell, Indiana
The Midwest Region is the region that could technically have a 1 seed (Virginia) and a 1b seed (Michigan State). Virginia comes into it having lost in the ACC tournament, but still was granted a 1 seed by the committee. Michigan State has a legitimate beef by being named the 2 seed, because they actually won the Big Ten Championship outright. Nevertheless, this is one of the weaker regions of the tournament and Virginia and Michigan State (should) see each other down the road to settle it. Syracuse is a team to watch out for, as well. Even though they barely made the tourney, they are talented enough to make some noise. Look for this region to have the most “upsets,” as a lot of quality teams have “questionable” low seeds.
Potential matchup everyone wants to see: (1) Virginia vs. (2) Michigan State
Team that no one wants to play: (2) Michigan State (obviously)
Upset(s) that could really happen: (14) Fresno State over (3) Utah; (13) Iona over (4) Iowa State; (11) Gonzaga over (6) Seton Hall
Region’s best players: Denzel Valentine, Michigan State; Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia; Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga; Michael Gbinije, Syracuse
Out of all the number 1 seeds in the tournament, Oregon comes in as the most unknown entity. You can call it a West Coast bias. Not many people (even basketball heads/watchers) can name a player off this Oregon team. With that said, the West Region is theirs for the taking. You have more “known” teams, such as defending champs Duke and a Oklahoma team that features the “college version of Steph Curry,” Buddy Hield. A team that could have spoiled everything is Baylor, but they’ve already been knocked out of the tournament. They have a rugged inside game that features a teammate who will be playing NFL football this time next year – Rico Gathers Jr. – and they play at a frenetic pace that causes teams to rush and turn the ball over.
Potential matchup everyone wants to see: (4) Duke vs. (1) Oregon
Team that no one wants to play: (1) UNC
Upset(s) that could really happen: (13) UNC Wilmington over (4) Duke; (10) VCU over (7) Oregon State
Region’s best players: Buddy Hield, Oklahoma; Brandon Ingram, Duke; Greyson Allen, Duke; Rico Gathers Jr., Baylor
After winning the Big 12 tournament for a record 12 straight years, Kansas comes into the NCAA tournament as the overall number one seed. They have a deep, experienced (some would joke that Perry Ellis is too experienced…seems like he’s been at Kansas for 10+ years now) team that should be on its way to the Final Four in Houston. There are a couple of teams that can raise a challenge (Villanova, Maryland), but Kansas is definitely the strongest team here. Villanova has probably the most to prove coming into the tournament after being a presumed number 1 seed for most of the year. Similar to the Midwest Region, a lot of upsets can happen here.
Potential matchup everyone wants to see: (2) Villanova vs. (10) Temple
Team that no one wants to play: (9) Connecticut
Upset(s) that could really happen: (10) Temple over (7) Iowa; (13) Hawaii over (4) California; (11) Wichita State over (6) Arizona
Region’s best players: Perry Ellis, Kansas; Jaylen Brown, California; Ryan Arcidiacono, Villanova; Wayne Selden, Kansas
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty