The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Bracket was released today, marking the official start of the 75th anniversary of March Madness. I have not studied the bracket in detail yet, so I am just going to give some first impressions and thoughts on the bracket, region by region.
After winning the Big East tournament, Louisville was able to grab the number one overall seed. One of the best defensive teams in the country led by Peyton Siva and Russ Smith, Louisville is definitely among the teams contending for a national title. A potential upset in this region could be #12 Oregon over #5 Oklahoma State. Oregon won the Pac 12 conference and has been playing well of late. Saint Louis grabs the 4 seed after winning the Atlantic 10 and could be a dangerous team in this region. Duke is the 2 seed for the second straight year, and will try to forget last year’s stunning loss to Lehigh as they try to make a deep run. Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee lead the way for the Blue Devils. Creighton grabs the 7 seed as coach Greg McDermott and his son Doug look to make a run to the Sweet 16 after falling to North Carolina in the third round last year.
After finishing their best season in school history as the number one team in the nation, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, led by player of the year candidate Kelly Olynyk, earn the number one seed in the West region. A potential upset in this region could be #11 Belmont over #6 Arizona, which has been struggling as of late after a strong start to the season. Ohio State takes the 2 seed in this region, looking to return to the final four for the second straight year after winning the Big 10 tournament. Many people like the Buckeyes as a favorite in this region. Pittsburgh takes on Witchita State in the 8-9 matchup. The Panthers have a history of getting upset early in the tournament, but nevertheless this is a tough team from the Big East that could definitely win a few games. Wisconsin earns the 5 seed, and could easily make it to the regional final in a rematch of the Big 10 championship with Ohio State.
After winning the Big 12 tournament, the Kansas Jayhawks own the number 1 seed in the South region. VCU is the 5 seed, and has been known to make deep runs in the tournament. With their solid defense and a potential rematch with Kansas from a couple of years ago in the Sweet 16, VCU could be a team to look out for. Michigan has the 4 seed, and I feel like they could either get upset early or make a deep run. Led by Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., the Wolverines have been battle tested throughout the year in the Big 10 and have the experience against top teams to get it done. Otto Porter and Georgetown get the 2 seed, looking to avenge last year’s early loss against NC State. Florida has the 3 seed, and despite getting upset in the SEC tournament, has the talent to be a Sweet 16 or Elite 8 team.
The Indiana Hoosiers round out the last of the number one seeds. As the number one ranked team in the nation to start the season, the Hoosiers, led by Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo, are one of the top contenders for the national championship. After falling short against Kentucky in the Sweet 16 last year, coach Tom Crean and Indiana will be looking to make a much deeper run this year. One of the surprise teams of the entire season is the 2 seed in this region: the Miami Hurricanes. They became the first team other than Duke or North Carolina to win the ACC regular season title and tournament title since the 1970s. Although there is no tournament experience on the team, the Hurricanes can definitely be a factor in this region. Syracuse takes the 4 seed, in possibly coach Jim Boeheim’s last season. The Orange, after beating Georgetown, led Louisville for most of the Big East championship before eventually falling short. They could be a tough out in this region. #12 California over #5 UNLV could be a potential upset as well.
Those are my initial thoughts on this year’s bracket. Much more analysis and recaps will be coming throughout the tournament so stay tuned. In the meantime, thanks for reading this post and please like, comment, and share with others.
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