NCAA Tournament regional preview

 (AP Photo / Tony Gutierrez)

(AP Photo / Tony Gutierrez)

SOUTH

The #1 overall seed went down & quickly thereafter went the team that took them down. The same can be said for the Tennessee Volunteers who advised they planned to head home early.

A set of twin ACC undid 2-seed Cincinnati transfers it couldn’t stop & Arizona, well Arizona’d. Calipari has to be salivating as he has plenty examples in his own region to keep his young unit focused & they believe in each other at the right time after winning the SEC Tournament.

Don’t think I’ve ever seen Calipari respond to a media report this quickly in his life & it’s likely because he sees an opportunity to steal a final four bid with a unit he never imagined being there in January.

It won’t be easy, whichever team wins the underdog matchup will be playing with house money & have nothing to lose. Kansas State’s chances of advances hinges on Dean Wade’s health as 69 & 50 points will not beat this young, athletic UK team.

Picks: Kentucky over Kansas State
Loyola-Chicago over Nevada
Kentucky to Final Four

WEST

 (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Xavier gambled & lost, opening the path for another team to steal a final four bid & Mark Few’s Gonzaga team seems perfectly poised to take advantage.

Florida State, the beneficiaries of the aforementioned collapse, haven’t played their best but also took advantage of a Missouri team without an identity or a healthy star player in the first round.

A&M-Michigan provides an intriguing matchup as the Aggies likely have the talent quotient to run the Zags off the floor but have struggled to defend the three this season.

Michigan, as a team is due for a hot night but most notably, Moritz Wagner has come out the other side clean with two subpar performance so far during the tournament.

The physicality & heightened stakes of this game seem like the perfect place for Wagner to relax & let it fly. But Mark Few likely still has his most confident group yet with Rui Hamichura getting better every night.

Picks: Gonzaga over Florida State
Michigan over Texas A&M
Gonzaga to Final Four

EAST

 (Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)

(Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)

The basketball world will wonder if Wichita State could’ve put some pressure on this Mike Carey West Virginia team at least until the tournament ends, thus far, they’re the only team not named Duke to score 85+ in both tournament games & really haven’t had to play their best. That will not bode well against Villanova, the college basketball equivalent of the Spurs the last few years. They do not beat themselves, usually find ways to win & don’t give a damn who gets the glory.

There’s an absurdly small number of teams that can say this honestly ever & Jay Wright has cultivated that culture as has Carey. Kudos to both. Texas Tech & Purdue are both teams that have dealt with injuries & not being at full strength all season. Unfortunately for the Boilermakers, Chris Beard will have his most important player in uniform & that will likely be the difference in the matchup.

Picks:Villanova over West Virginia
Texas Tech over Purdue
Villanova to Final Four

MIDWEST

 (Geoff Burke / USA TODAY Sports)

(Geoff Burke / USA TODAY Sports)

Be prepared for an absolute slugfest or a complete blowout in the Syracuse-Duke matchup. Both teams are at different points in their programs & the team with more to lose also has exponentially more talent. Healthy talent. To be honest, Duke could give Syracuse a few of its players & it should still win this game…. on paper. But that’s why we’re here. That’s why you play the games in March. If this Cuse team is going out, I hope its with a bang & Boeheim shows us some new tricks that are in the bag. If for no other reason than that these kids deserve it. They’ve battled all season to get to a place even their fanbase thought impossible yet, here they are.

The bottom half of this bracket was a lot tougher looking than it turned out to be & the top has featured several teams that were able to stay afloat in mediocre conferences (Kansas, Auburn,) mixed with a couple wildcards that had the capacity to shake things up, even in a minor fashion (Seton Hall, Clemson, NC State. In the end, Kansas has struggled with itself no matter who the opponent & could either use Clemson as a tune-up for the highest seed matchup possible or they could finally see the major inequities exposed to the extent of an L.

Picks: Kansas over Clemson
Duke over Syracuse
Duke to Final Four