The days following Selection Sunday are chock full of analyzing and over-analyzing until the Round of 64 mercifully begins early Thursday afternoon. Before filling out your bracket, check out my breakdown of each region here at KMOV.com.
Best first-round game: #5 Kentucky vs. #12 Davidson
In any other region, against any other 5-seed, I’d have Davidson advancing as a 12-seed without giving it a second thought. As it is, the Wildcats are matched up in the first round with another group of Cats, Kentucky. These Wildcats just won the SEC Tournament, and appear to be the strongest 5-seed in the field. Davidson will have a tough time slaying Goliath, but the A-10 Tournament champs are sure to put up a fight, which should make for a fascinating opening round game.
Upset alert: #11 Loyola-Chicago over #6 Miami (FL)
After enjoying a double-bye in the ACC tournament, Miami was promptly blasted out of Brooklyn in an 82-65 defeat to North Carolina. Meanwhile, the Ramblers of Loyola dominated the Missouri Valley tournament just as they did the regular season slate. Differing from past years, this March’s bracket seems to be lacking in obvious seed-based upsets—no lower seeded team opened as a favorite in Vegas, which is remarkably rare for an NCAA Tournament. That said, Porter Moser has his Ramblers in a groove that could lead them to be one of this year’s Cinderellas in an 8-team pod without clear hierarchy.
Bold prediction: Georgia State won't go away easily against Cincinnati, and will hold a lead at some point in the second half.
Great draw: #2 Cincinnati
Look at where Virginia sits in the top half of this bracket—then glance your gaze down to the pods on the bottom half of the region—and then tell me with a straight face that the Cavaliers wouldn’t rather switch spots with the Bearcats. the AAC tournament champs don’t reach the Elite 8 out of the South region, they’ll have nobody to blame but themselves.
Tough draw: #4 Arizona
There was an argument to be made for Zona as a 3-seed. Instead, the Cats are a 4-seed in the same pod as a Kentucky team fresh off a championship run through the SEC tournament. If Arizona can survive that potential second-round game, it’ll likely be rewarded with a Sweet 16 battle with top-seeded Virginia, the #2 overall seed in the tournament. The Wildcats have a strong team—and one of the best players in the nation in DeAndre Ayton—but the committee did them absolutely zero favors here.
Sleeper: #7 Nevada
As beneficial as it is for Cincy to be locked into this pod, the inverse could be said for Nevada. Cincinnati isn’t the most battle-tested 2-seed, having played only a handful of game against RPI top 50 teams in the AAC. If Nevada can get by Texas with a healthy Mo Bamba, there’s a chance they could give Cincy a run on their way to a Sweet 16 appearance.
Potential game I’d want to see: #5 Kentucky vs. #4 Arizona
Kentucky is loaded with NBA talent like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Kevin Knox. Arizona has a top-3 NBA lottery pick in DeAndre Ayton. Kentucky won the SEC tourney. Arizona won the Pac-12. The committee set this up to be a possible Round of 32 game, which is bracketing malpractice. But would we like it to happen? Yes, please.
Regional Final Prediction: #1 Virginia 68, #3 Tennessee 61