March Madness preview

By: 
Eric Moore
Staff Writer

Midwest Region
Louisville, Ky
1 UK
16 HAM / MAN
3/19
9:40
8 CIN
9 PUR
3/19
7:10
Columbus, OH
5 WVU
12 BUFF
3/20
2:10
4 MD
13 VALP
3/20
4:40
Pittsburgh, PA
6 BUT
11 TEX
3/19
2:45
3 ND
14 NE
3/19
12:15
Omaha, NE
7 WICH
10 IND
3/20
2:45
2 KU
15 NMSU
3/20
12:15
Most Intriguing First Round Match Up
Butler v. Texas
Texas was a preseason top 10 team and much was to be expected out of the longhorns. They boast one of the strongest front lines in college basketball outside of Kentucky. They have a legit 7 foot lottery bound player in Myles Turner. This all sounds great, but they did not live up to expectations. Can they figure it out against an always smart Butler team that is built on fundamentals and shooting?

Dark horse
Wichita State
The shockers return Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker from last year’s team that had an undefeated regular season. They only lost 4 games this year. Some would say they got the shafted by the committee with a 7 seed despite consistently being ranked in the top 10 all year long. Kansas will have a world of trouble with their in-state rival in the 2nd round.

That’s Cute
The committee got clever and put all 5 teams that made the tournament from the state of Indiana in the same region. We are all excited to hopefully see a 2nd round matchup between Notre Dame and Butler.
Who wins the region?
Kentucky
Kind of surprising we haven’t even mentioned the most talked about team all year. They haven’t dropped a game all year and don’t look for the loss to come in regional play. These guys have everything. This team has so much size, only the Portland Trailblazers of the NBA are larger than them. Best of luck to all, but this tournament is Kentucky’s to lose.

Omaha, NE
1 WIS
16 CCAR
3/20
9:20
8 ORE
9 OKST
3/20
6:50
Jacksonville, FL
5 ARK
12 WOF
3/19
9:50
4 UNC
13 HARV
3/19
7:20
Jacksonville, FL
6 XAV
11 BYU / MISS
3/19
4:10
3 BAY
14 GAST
3/19
1:40
Portland, OR
7 VCU
10 OSU
3/19
4:40
2 ARIZ
15 TXSO
3/19
2:10
Most Intriguing First Round Match Up
VCU vs. Ohio State
VCU has become a yearly tournament fixture thanks to Coach Shaka Smart and his havoc defense. The rams apply pressure to ball handlers for the full 94 feet. Ohio State features a top 5 pick in next year’s draft with guard D’Angelo Russell. This guy is smooth; we will see how smooth he is when someone is in his pocket constantly. The Buckeyes have Russell, but his supporting cast isn’t strong and it shows with their 10 seed. Ohio State draws an Atlantic 10 team for the second straight year. Last year Dayton beat them on a buzzer beater that jump started their elite 8 run.

Dark Horse
Arkansas
There is a lot to like out about this team, namely Bobby Portis and Michael Qualls. Both of these guys can score and rebound. Portis is an athletic power forward who can score just about any way you can think of inside the 3 point arc. Qualls is a big guard who can shoot and take you off the dribble. They could be a tough draw for a number of teams. They even played Kentucky tough.

Who wins the region?
Arizona

Nobody is talking about the Wildcats after they only lost 3 games all year. The funny thing is Arizona will potentially meet Wisconsin in the elite 8, the same team that eliminated them in the elite 8 last year. Both teams return a good portion of their core. However, Brandon Ashley of Arizona did not play in last year’s game. He was injured. Look for some revenge for the tough Wildcats.

Pittsburgh, PA
1 VILL
16 LAF
3/19
6:50
8 NCST
9 LSU
3/19
9:20
Seattle, WA
5 UNI
12 WYO
3/20
1:40
4 LOU
13 UCI
3/20
4:10
Columbus, OH
6 PROV
11 BSU / DAY
3/20
9:57
3 OKLA
14 ALB
3/20
7:27
Charlotte, NC
7 MSU
10 UGA
3/20
12:40
2 UVA
15 BEL
3/20
3:10

Most Intriguing First Round Match Up
NC State vs. LSU
These teams are really scrappy. LSU is so scrappy they got into a near fist fight with Auburn in the SEC tournament. NC State has some quality wins in the ACC. They even beat Duke on the road. LSU has some marquee wins over Arkansas and West Virginia. They also gave Kentucky all it could handle as they only lost by 2.

Dark Horse
Michigan State

Coach Tom Izzo’s teams usually aren’t in the Dark Horse category because they are typically highly seeded teams. This is not the case this year as his team has experienced an up and down year. At times they look great, other times it looks as if they are actively trying to lose games. However, Tom Izzo always has his teams prepared for March. Just last week he took his team to the finals of the Big 10 tournament. They looked poised to win it and Wisconsin had to play catch up just to force overtime.

Who wins the region?
Virginia

This was the hardest choice to make as this region is wide open and balanced. It wouldn’t surprise us to see any team seed 1 through 9 come out of this region. When in doubt, pick the team that plays the best defense. Virginia’s offense can go on 5 minute scoring droughts, but during that same time they might give up only a bucket or two to their opponent. Opponents average just 50 points per game against this defensive juggernaut. They also just got back Justin Anderson, one of their best players who had been out for about 6 weeks.

Charlotte, NC
1 DUKE
16 UNF / RMU
3/20
7:10
8 SDSU
9 SJU
3/20
9:40
Portland, OR
5 UTAH
12 SFA
3/19
7:27
4 GTWN
13 EWU
3/19
9:57
Louisville, KY
6 SMU
11 UCLA
3/19
3:10
3 ISU
14 UAB
3/19
12:40
Seattle, WA
7 IOWA
10 DAV
3/20
7:20
2 GONZ
15 NDSU
3/20
9:50
Most Intriguing First Round Match Up
Georgetown vs. Eastern Washington

Georgetown was eliminated from the Big East tournament by a decent Xavier team. They have beaten Villanova and Butler this year. They also have 10 losses. Their resume would better relate to a 6 seed. Not the 4 they were kindly handed. Whats not so kind is they have to travel cross county Portland, Oregon to face a tough Eastern Washington team that is less likely to have sea legs thanks to their short travel distance. Eastern Washington also pushes the pace. They will play fast and aren’t scared of major programs. They beat Indiana @ Indiana this year. This one could be an upset special.

Darkhorse
SMU

Southern Methodist comes out of the same league as UConn who shocked everyone last year. They denied the returning champs an opportunity to defend their title as they beat them in the American Athletic Conference Tournament Final. Let’s also not forget they are coached by one of the all-time greats, Larry Brown. Brown is still the only coach in basketball history to win an NCAA and NBA title.

Who wins the region?
Iowa State

Iowa State comes out of the Big 12 conference where they played a ranked team almost every week. They are one of the most battle tested teams in the country. They can hurt you from inside or outside. Georges Niang is looking for redemption after getting injured in last year’s tournament. They also have a pretty favorable draw to get to the elite 8. This team is for real and everybody better watch out.

Conclusion

For the next few weeks, we are about to go on one of the most exciting roller coasters. There will be highs, lows and a whole mix of emotions. Strap in because it will be worth the price of admission. We will recap each week of tournament games and give predictions as we go. As much as we hate being a front runner, we cannot argue with selecting Kentucky as our champion this year. They are simply too good and too deep to not win this!

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