This is a STACKED BRACKET. Kansas was the #1 overall seed. Then Connecticut is riding a big time hot streak. Then Maryland could be top-notch team when they are playing right. Cal is just hitting their stride. Vandy/WSU is the best KP play-in ever. Miami is having a great year. Iowa has been so up and down. And then Villanova. Will ‘Nova finally make an appearance past the first weekend? We’ll find out. The best first round matchup to me is Arizona vs. the winner of the play-in game. Both of those teams will pose a big threat to the Wildcats and I think it will be interesting to see how WSU or Vandy plays on just a day of rest.
Players to watch in this region: Perry Ellis (Kansas), Josh Scott (Colorado), Danny Hamilton (Connecticut), Melo Trimble (Maryland), Diamond Stone (Maryland), Ivan Rabb (California), Kaleb Tarczewski (Arizona), Damian Jones (Vanderbilt), Fred VanVleet (Wichita State), Angel Rodriquez (Miami), Jarrod Uthoff (Iowa), Ryan Arcidiacono (Villanova).
Bold Prediction of the region: Miami will not make the Sweet Sixteen.
Regional Champion Prediction: Kansas.
Click Read More to see my analysis for each game. All times are eastern.
8 Colorado vs. 9 CONNECTICUT, Thursday 1:30pm on TNT – I really like Danny Hamilton for Connecticut. I think he can do it all, and he will take over in this game, much like he did against Cincinnati. Also, their adept free throw shooting should carry them over the Buffs.
5 MARYLAND vs. 12 South Dakota State, Friday 4:30 on TBS – Maryland has struggled taking care of the ball as of late and the weak play of Melo Trimble has hurt their offensive and defensive efficiencies. South Dakota State seems to be good team, but it doesn’t seem like it will be enough to beat the Terps.
4 California vs. 13 HAWAII, Friday 2:00pm on TBS – I love Cal right now. They are playing confident and showing their potential. Both of these teams play a stifling defense, but I think the injury to Ty Wallace will be enough to allow the Rainbow Warriors to get the W.
6 Arizona vs. 11 WICHITA STATE, Thursday 9:20pm on TNT – I think it’s fair to say that the Shockers belonged in the field. Convincing beating SEC opponent Vanderbilt in the first four builds momentum for them going into this game. And with VanVleet and Baker, it is conceivable to say that this team can beat anyone in the country, and that includes Arizona. If the backcourt duo can knock down shots and dictate the pace against ‘Zona, I see the Shockers moving on once again.
3 MIAMI vs. 14 Buffalo, Thursday 6:50pm on TNT – Angel Rodriquez takes care of the basketball and that is key against Buffalo. Buffalo has shown improvement throughout the season and is riding a hot streak into the tournament, but I just do not see them pulling off the upset. Therefore, the Hurricanes move on.
7 Iowa vs. 10 TEMPLE, Friday 3:10pm on TruTV – Personally, I thought Temple was over-seeded, plus they got an awesome draw. Iowa has been super shaky this season and we’ll see what kind of team we get. Sure, Jok and Uthoff have been great, but Woodberry and Gesell have not been good. Given this, I’m going Temple.
2 VILLANOVA vs. 15 NC-Asheville, Friday 12:40 on TruTV – ‘Nova is strong. They have shown struggles in the past couple years in the early tournament stages, but they aren’t going to show up in the first round. Wildcats will move on.
And that’s all I have for now, so this is me…signing off. -Lukas.