The Big Dance is finally here. All the debate about who is in and who is out is over (thankfully!). The snubs are being talked about, but who cares. The brackets have been revealed. Here's a quick look at my thoughts on each region plus the Final Four and national championship games.
#1 Seed: Kentucky - While everything else in the tournament seeding was up for grabs with the exception of Villanova getting a #1 seed as well, this was the lock of all locks. The only undefeated team in the nation takes it seat as the #1 seed in the tournament.
#2 Seed: Kansas - This was the #2 seed no one wanted. Kansas probably could have avoided it by beating the Cyclones in the Big 12 championship, but with the loss things went from bad to worse. This team suffers from having no star power. They aren't a bad team, but don't have a superstar to carry them.
#3 Seed: Notre Dame -The newly crowned ACC tournament champs get the #3 seed. Their question mark will be defense but they have beaten a several tournament teams this season and winning the ACC tournament has never been easy so this team should have some confidence no matter who they play.
#4 Seed: Maryland - They finished up their first season in the Big 10 in second place during theregular season. Mark Turgeon's midseason rant aside, this is a good team. They are a middle of the road team offensively and defensively though and eventually you can't overcome that.
Bracket Buster: Wichita State
Elite 8 matchup: Notre Dame vs. Kentucky
Region Winner: Kentucky
#1 Seed: Villanova - Villanova was the other team that everyone knew was locked into a #1 seed prior to the bracket reveal. I feel like they are flying a bit under the radar. They lost only 2 games all season, but the Big East isn't to be so that is a little bit of a hit to resume. Jay Wright knows how to get his team to perform in tournament so it should be an interesting ride for them.
#2 Seed: Virginia - The regular season ACC champ is #1 in the nation in scoring defense. That alone should be enough to have the rest of this region worried.
#3 Seed: Oklahoma - If you believe the tournament is about guard play, then you should buy stock in Oklahoma. They have great guard play and rebound really well.
#4 Seed: Louisville - Similar to their ACC brethren in the East Region, Virginia, Louisville is a really tough defensive team. They are 3-5 versus ranked teams this year. I think they are good enough to make a little run, but not quite good enough to be a Final Four team.
Bracket Buster: Providence
Elite 8 matchup: Virginia vs. Louisville
Region Winner: Virginia
#1 Seed: Duke - This was one of the biggest question marks after the conference tournament. Who were the last 2 #1 seeds? All of them had a good story to tell and the resume to stake their claim but it was the love them or hate them Blue Devils who snagged one of the spots. Duke will be a tough out, but I don't think they are a strong enough team to contend for the title.
#2 Gonzaga - Gonzaga played 2 ranked teams all season, SMU and Arizona. The beat SMU and lost to Arizona by 3 on the road. I think this is a slightly above average team with a great record and great stats based on a soft schedule.
#3 Iowa State - This team is one of the most offensive balanced teams in the nation. I love balanced teams to don't lean to heavy on one or two facets of the game to win. They are really athletic and score in bunches.
#4 Georgetown - This is a pretty nondescript team in my opinion. Similar to a few others I have mentioned, they don't blow you away offensively or defensively and you have to be able to do something well in the tournament to pile up wins.
Bracket Buster: Stephen F. Austin
Elite 8 matchup: Iowa State vs Duke
Region Winner: Iowa State
#1 Seed: Wisconsin - In my estimation this is the team that can give Kentucky fits. They are really good defensively, shoot the ball well and don't commit turnovers. That seems like just the right potion to beat the Wildcats.
#2 Seed: Arizona - The Pac 12 champs suffer from a lack of respect and a tough #1 seed in their region. This is a good team offensively and they shoot it well. I am not sure it will be enough to get past Wisconsin though.
#3 Seed: Baylor - This seems like a spot or two high seed for this team but with the Big 12 being the toughest conference, I guess they were given the benefit of the doubt. They are long and athletic but if they aren't shooting well the Bears can be beaten by even the bad teams.
#4 Seed: North Carolina - Since the end of February, this team seems to be playing better, beating both Louisville and Virginia during the month of March. They will have to be better defensively to make a deep run into the tournament.
Bracket Buster: Xavier
Elite 8 matchup: Wisconsin vs. Arizona
Region Winner: Wisconsin
Final Four Predictions:
Kentucky vs. Wisconsin
Virginia vs. Iowa State
I wish Wisconsin versus Kentucky could the national title game, because I think it is going to be an excellent game. I am picking Wisconsin to end Kentucky's dream of a perfect season. I think Virginia beats Iowa State.
Wisconsin vs. Virginia
I love this match up almost as much as the Kentucky versus Wisconsin matchup. I will take Virginia. I think they have the easier path to final, while Wisconsin's game with Kentucky will drain them. I think they run out of gas before the finish the line. There's no shame in that. I think Wisconsin is the better team and would win this game on a typical night, but this isn't a typical night.
National Champ: Virginia Cavaliers