Kentucky is clearly the nation’s best, deepest team. However, the Big 12 got seven teams into the dance.
Oklahoma (3), Iowa State (3), Baylor (3), Oklahoma State (9), Kansas (2), Texas (11) and West Virginia (5) are in the field of 68. The Sooners are the lone XII team in the East Region, featuring No. 1 seed Villanova and played in Syracuse, matched up with Albany in the round of 64 on Friday in Columbus, Ohio. Albany reached the tourney on a miraculous 3 in the America East title game by Peter Hooley against Stony Brook.
Continuing through the XII, Iowa State is the conference’s lone team in the South Region with Duke atop, played in Houston. The Cyclones will face UAB in the “second” round in Louisville on Thursday. The Cyclones have a favorable draw and the capability to make a deep run into the tournament.
The West Region features Wisconsin sitting atop and will be played in Los Angeles. Oklahoma State will face 8-seed Oregon on Friday in Omaha in the second round. The Pokes aren’t likely to make a run, it’s a Travis Ford team in the postseason. On the bottom half is Baylor who will face Georgia State. The Bears are a talented team, but not anything special.
Three Big 12 teams will play in the Midwest Region which features the top overall seed, Kentucky, and is set for Cleveland. Kansas sits as the No. 2 seed and gets a red-hot New Mexico State team in the second round in Omaha on Friday. Texas is the 11-seed and got paired with a solid Butler team. West Virginia sits at No. 5, arguably the most dangerous seed, to play a Buffalo team making their NCAA Tournament debut. The Mountaineers are among the nation’s most dictating teams and can beat a lot of the teams in the tournament. Unfortunately WVU gets Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen.
Below I have broken down the tournament with anything you may want to know.
First Four Picks
No. 16 Manhattan over No. 16 Hampton – Tues. – Winner plays Kentucky
No. 11 BYU over No. 11 Ole Miss – Tues. – Winner plays Xavier
No. 16 North Florida over No. 16 Robert Morris – Wed. – Winner plays Duke
No. 11 Boise State over No. 11 Dayton – Wed. – Winner plays Providence
Round of 64 Upset Picks
No. 9 LSU over No. 8 NC State
No. 11 Boise State/Dayton over No. 6 Providence
No. 11 UCLA over No. 6 SMU
No. 10 Ohio State over No. 7 VCU
No. 11 Texas over No. 6 Butler
No. 9 Purdue over No. 8 Cincinnati
Advancing to the Round of 32
No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 9 Purdue
No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 4 Maryland
No. 11 Texas vs. No. 3 Notre Dame
No. 7 Wichita State vs. No. 2 Kansas
No. 1 Wisconsin vs. No. 8 Oregon
No. 5 Arkansas vs. No. 4 North Carolina
No. 6 Xavier vs. No. 3 Baylor
No. 10 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Arizona
No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 9 LSU
No. 5 Northern Iowa vs. No. 4 Louisville
No. 11 Boise State-Dayton winner vs. No. 3 Oklahoma
No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 2 Virginia
No. 1 Duke vs. No. 8 San Diego State
No. 5 Utah vs. No. 4 Georgetown
No. 11 UCLA vs. No. 3 Iowa State
No. 10 Davidson vs. No. 2 Gonzaga
No. 1 Kentucky over No. 5 West Virginia
No. 3 Notre Dame over No. 7 Wichita State
No. 1 Wisconsin over No. 4 North Carolina
No. 2 Arizona over No. 3 Baylor
No. 4 Louisville over No. 1 Villanova
No. 3 Oklahoma over No. 2 Virginia
No. 1 Duke over No. 5 Utah
No. 3 Iowa State over No. 10 Davidson
Final Four & National Championship Picks
Kentucky over Wisconsin
Duke over Louisville
Kentucky over Duke
The tournament is set up beautifully for competitive games, although, in the end a lot of the higher seeds have shown great resiliency over the year.
Hopefully it delivers.