After an incredibly eventful and unpredictable regular season, we’ve reached the true madness of March and one of the exciting sports weeks of the year.
With the official announcement and release of the tournament field, people can vigorously begin studying and filling out their brackets with hopes that this will finally be the year that they figure everything out.
Considering how this season has gone, good luck with that.
We’ll provide much more in-depth coverage of Duke’s opening round game with Mercer over the next few days, but let’s first take a broader look at the entire bracket as a whole.
Here are my initial thoughts on the four regions.
East Region – New York
Top 4 Seeds
3. Iowa State
4. Michigan State
The East (New York) Region features two ACC teams in No. 1 seed Virginia and No. 6 seed North Carolina. The Cavaliers appear to have a relatively easy path to the Sweet 16, but will potentially face a very difficult opponent in Michigan State if both teams can advance to the second weekend. In the bottom half of the region, Iowa State stands out to me as a strong candidate to reach the Sweet 16, and UNC’s opening round game against Providence should be very interesting. Although Tar Heel fans probably don’t know much about the Friars, they enter the tournament on a streak after winning the Big East Championship and Bryce Cotton is one of the most underrated guards in the country.
Potential Upsets – Providence over UNC, Harvard over Cincinnati
South Region – Memphis
Top 4 Seeds
Florida was named the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, but the selection committee didn’t do the Gators any favors with the rest of this bracket. The South (Memphis) Region features four of the blue-blood programs in present day college basketball in the top four seeds and some very dangerous lower seeded teams in VCU, Ohio State and New Mexico. This is also the spot for No. 10 seed Stanford as Johnny Dawkins led the Cardinal to his first NCAA Tournament appearance. I like the Gators to emerge out of this section of the bracket to reach the Final Four, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if there’s chaos in the bottom half of this region.
Potential Upsets: New Mexico over Kansas, Ohio State over Syracuse
Midwest Region – Indianapolis
Top 4 Seeds
1. Wichita State
The Midwest (Indianapolis) Region features three of the four teams that played in the 2013 Final Four. Add in Duke as the other team of the top four seeds and you’ve got quite a region. Although the selection committee rewarded Wichita State with a No. 1 seed, things won’t come easy for the Shockers with a potential second game against Kentucky or Kansas State. Kentucky as a No. 8 seed is the frightening prospect for a No. 1 seed that experts had been predicting for the past few weeks. In the other half of the bracket, I happen to like this set up for the Blue Devils. I said earlier today that I hoped Duke would face teams that liked to play at a faster, up-tempo pace. Duke will certainly get that in its opener against Mercer and could see more of the same against UMass and Michigan.
Potential Upsets: Kentucky over Wichita State
West Region – Anaheim
Top 4 Seeds
4. San Diego State
While Florida may be the official No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, Arizona fans should probably feel like the Wildcats have the best layout of any team to reach the Final Four. Aside from a potential Round of 32 matchup against Oklahoma State, the rest of the West (Anaheim) Region sets up very well for Sean Miller’s club. In the bottom half of this region, there should be some fascinating matchups and contrasting styles if the chalk holds. Oregon and Creighton are two teams that love to play fast, which is something Wisconsin hardly ever allows an opponent to do. Seeing Bo Ryan try to shut down Doug McDermott would be a chess match that I’d love to see.
Potential Upsets: Nebraska over Baylor, North Dakota State over Oklahoma
The Blue Devils do not have an easy path to the Final Four. Do you think they’ll make it Dallas? Vote in our poll below!
What do you think about the different regions? Who do you see emerging to the Final Four? Let me know in the comments section!