At a time when everybody from college basketball experts to those who don’t know the difference between Michigan and Michigan State has an opinion on the NCAA tournament, here’s one look at what could happen over the next three weeks.
The bracket breakdown (winners in all caps):
MOUNT ST. MARY’S vs. Albany – Both teams won the automatic bid on an opponent’s home court but you have to go with a team that has a leading scorer (17.7) named (Rashad) Whack.
CAL POLY vs. Texas Southern – At 13-19, the Mustangs are the only sub-.500 team in the field and they will keep the great story going for one more game.
NORTH CAROLINA STATE vs. Xavier – A matchup of two outstanding players in Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year T.J. Warren and unanimous All-Big East pick Semaj Christon.
IOWA vs. Tennessee – The Hawkeyes will be so glad not to face another Big Ten team that their offense will return.
(1) FLORIDA vs. (16) Mount St. Mary’s – The Gators start their run with a defensive gem.
(9) PITTSBURGH vs. (8) Colorado – The Panthers have started playing well and Talib Zanna’s rebounding has been the key.
(5) VCU vs. (12) Stephen F. Austin – The Rams created enough havoc to reach the Atlantic 10 title game and they will end the Lumberjacks’ 28-game winning streak.
(13) TULSA vs. (4) Ucla – This is Danny Manning’s first tournament as a head coach and he should be able to give a great pregame speech about his last as a player when he led Kansas to the title in 1988.
(6) OHIO STATE vs. Dayton – A game a lot of people in the Buckeye State have wanted to see during the regular season should be a win for OSU.
(3) SYRACUSE vs. (14) Western Michigan – The Orange might not get back to the way they were when they were 25-0, but the zone should be a problem for the Broncos.
(7) NEW MEXICO vs. (10) Stanford – The Lobos took two of three from San Diego State and should come in irked about being seeded lower than the Aztecs.
(2) KANSAS vs. Eastern Kentucky – Freshman center Joel Embiid’s back injury won’t be much of a problem for this game.
FLORIDA vs. Pittsburgh – The Gators’ experienced backcourt will be the advantage.
VCU vs. Tulsa – The Rams know all about surprise runs to the Final Four so they will be on their guard against the Golden Hurricane.
SYRACUSE vs. Ohio State – These teams met a few years ago with a Final Four berth at stake. There are fewer future NBA players on the roster this time, but the matchup of Orange freshman point guard Tyler Ennis against Ohio State’s veteran Aaron Craft should be one of the best of the tournament.
KANSAS vs. New Mexico – Andrew Wiggins will come up with his breakout game in his only NCAA tournament.
FLORIDA vs. Vcu – The Gators will be able to handle the full-court havoc unleashed by the Rams.
KANSAS vs. Syracuse – This could be the game Embiid makes his return and even if he doesn’t the Jayhawks have enough wing players to be able to handle the Orange’s zone.
FLORIDA vs. Kansas – The Gators have plenty of size up front to make it tough on Wiggins even if Embiid is back.
(1) VIRGINIA vs. (16) Coastal Carolina – The Cavaliers play the kind of defense that could make this a rout.
(9) GEORGE WASHINGTON vs. (8) Memphis – The Colonials have some veteran transfers including center Isaiah Armwood who will do enough inside to offset the Tigers’ frantic pace.
(12) HARVARD vs. (5) Cincinnati – The Crimson are a chic pick for a reason: They are good.
(4) MICHIGAN STATE vs. (13) Delaware – The Spartans are healthy and are one of the hottest teams in the country.
(11) PROVIDENCE vs. (6) North Carolina – The Friars showed a zone defense that forced Creighton into one of its worst games of the season and the Bluejays are a much better shooting team than the Tar Heels.
(3) IOWA STATE vs. North Carolina Central – The Cyclones are an offensive juggernaut. Watch for Melvin Ejim to have one his monster games.
(7) CONNECTICUT vs. Saint Joseph’s – The Huskies have one of the quickest backcourts in the country and they should be able to limit Langston Galloway from breaking out from 3-point range.
(2) VILLANOVA vs. (15) Milwaukee – The Wildcats are eager to get back on the court after being upset by Seton Hall in the Big East quarterfinals.
VIRGINIA vs. George Washington – The Cavaliers should still be riding high on their selection as a No. 1 seed and their defense will show why.
MICHIGAN STATE vs. Harvard – The Spartans are just too big and strong up front for the Crimson.
IOWA STATE vs. Providence – Depth will be the difference.
VILLANOVA vs. Connecticut – In an old-fashioned Big East matchup the Wildcats use their 3-point prowess to offset the backcourt of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright.
MICHIGAN STATE vs. Virginia – The Spartans have enough both up front and in the backcourt to score against the Cavaliers.
IOWA STATE vs. Villanova – The Cyclones have a big point guard in DeAndre Kane and being able to keep the Wildcats from hitting 3s will be the key.
MICHIGAN STATE vs. Iowa State – Tom Izzo is due for another visit to the Final Four.