I have broken down the two toughest regions so far with not too many upsets and going with almost chalk to reach the Sweet 16. In the Midwest region it is setup to be a clash between the former Roy Williams coached school (Kansas) vs. the current Roy Williams coached school (North Carolina) in the Elite 8. However, there will be a couple of upsets in the early rounds.
In the 1-16 matchup it will be North Carolina versus either Lamar or Vermont. I am pulling for Lamar to beat Vermont for one reason and one reason only: Lamar head coach Pat Knight. If you have not seen the rant that coach Knight went on a couple of weeks ago go immediately to YouTube and watch the rant. He called out his team saying this was the worse group of seniors he had ever coached etc. Since the infamous rant, Lamar is undefeated and won their conference tournament to qualify for the Big Dance. Even if they get past the Catamounts, there is no chance that they beat the Tar Heels. The Tar Heels in my opinion are the best team in the tournament.
The 5-12 matchup is between Temple and the winner of Cal/South Florida. If Cal can beat South Florida, I love for them to beat Temple. Cal played in the weakest Pac 12 in history and was barely able to squeeze out an at-large bid. Expectations aren’t very high for the Golden Bears but they are good with their shot selection. They don’t take very many bad shots.
Temple was once known for its 2-3 matchup zone under legendary coach John Chaney. The Owls are now more offensive orientated. Not being able to play a high caliber of defense will cost them a victory in the second round and will continue the trend of a 12 seed upsetting a 5 seed. 4th seeded Michigan takes on 13th seeded Ohio. If there is one team who relies on the 3 point shot it is Michigan. Ohio is a very bad matchup for Michigan as they defend the 3 point shot as well as anybody in the country. I will go with the Bobcats to upset the Wolverines setting up a 12-13 matchup in round 3. Call it a west coast bias and believe me I know better than most that when St. Mary’s is the best basketball team in the west that it is suffering but I think that Cal will make it to the Sweet 16.
The 6-11 matchup is the Aztecs of San Diego State v the Wolfpack from NC State. Steve Fisher has done a magical job in leading the Aztecs this year. Losing 4 starters from last year’s Sweet 16 team, SDSU were tied for the MWC regular season title and lost to New Mexico in the tournament final. Jamaal Franklin leads the Aztecs in scoring and rebounding. The Aztecs like to run a lot of motion sets on offense and love the pick and rolls. Mark Gottfried has done a tremendous job in his first season in Raleigh.
He has a rapidly improving CJ Leslie at his disposal to attack the interior of most frontcourts. NC State should have beaten their in state rivals last week in the ACC tourney, but a crucial no call in the final seconds sent them to a defeat. I think that these two teams are going in opposite directions and I like NC State to pull off an upset to reach round 3.
The 3-14 matchup features the inexperienced but talented Georgetown Hoyas vs. the experienced Belmont Bruins. Georgetown the last 3 years have gone out against a double digit seed. They run a hybrid style Princeton offense predicated on timing. Belmont loves shooting the threes. In the biggest upset of the 2nd round I will pick Belmont to up end the Hoyas. The always popular 11-14 matchup for the right to go the Sweet 16 will be determined by if the Bruins can stop Leslie on the inside. I think Belmont shocks the world and makes it to the Sweet 16.
The 7-10 matchup features the St Mary’s Gaels v the Purdue Boilermakers. As I said earlier, I believe St Mary’s is the best basketball team on the west coast. They finally got over the hump in the WCC by knocking off Gonzaga to become the new kings of the league. Randy Bennett has done an excellent job and probably will get an offer to coach in one of the power 6 conferences very soon. They are led by creative PG Matthew Dellavedova. They won’t wow you with their athleticism but they play very good team basketball. Purdue is led by Robbie Hummel. He is the feel good story of the tournament. He is coming off of back to back ACL injuries and is their best player on the interior.
Purdue really isn’t that good in my opinion. I think St. Mary’s win rather easily. The 2-15 matchup pits Kansas v Detroit. Kansas is led by POY candidate Thomas Robinson and veteran PG Tyshawn Taylor. Kansas has all the pieces to win the tournament but they do have a habit of losing to mid major teams. Detroit is led by father-son duo Ray MaCallum Sr and Ray McCallum Jr. McCallum Jr was at Indiana before transferring to play for his father at Detroit. He is there main guy.
So I like two double digit seeds from this region along with the 1 and 2 seeds to advance to the Sweet 16. That is it for today. One more region to go: The West. I hope you guys are enjoying my previews as much as I am writing them. Till next time, have a wonderful and prosperous day.
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