TEAM TO BEAT: Duke. The Blue Devils may be the one team that can topple Kentucky and they'd have to get to the Final to do so. They have NBA talent, clutch guards and a nice mix of youth and experience ... and a guy name Krzyzewski ... to get it done.
TEAM THAT WILL WIN THE REGION: Gonzaga. I really think this is set up for a Duke-Gonzaga matchup in the region final and Gonzaga's ability to wear out Jahil Okafor will win out.
TEAM TO WATCH FOR (LESS THAN A NO. 3 SEED): SMU. I really like this team. They are a tough-nosed team that plays smart and has nice size and athleticism. Oh, and they have Larry Brown who has done it all and won't get cute during the tournament.
YOUR CINDERELLA: Stephen F Austin. As a rule, I tend not to pick the same Cinderella two years in a row. But SFA is good enough to upset Utah like they did VCU a year ago. The next step for them is getting to the Sweet 16. The Georgetown/Eastern Washington winner could be ripe for an upset as well.
WORST SEEDING ERROR: UCLA. Sorry, but I didn't see them in the tournament at all ... let alone not having to play in the First Four. I was genuinely shocked when this selection came up.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE: Duke. Well, for the first weekend, Duke (Charlotte) and Gonzaga (Seattle) have distinct home court advantages. If SMU (or Stephen F. Austin?) can get to the second weekend, they could have a nice gathering in Houston. Still, that's an advantage for Duke.
MUST WATCH GAME: SMU vs UCLA. Forget what you've read up there for a moment. UCLA, despite me not thinking they should be in the tournament, is and they have talented and athletic players. It will be fun to see them go against Larry Brown (who took UCLA to the title game in 1980) and his SMU squad.
MUST WATCH (POTENTIAL) SECOND ROUND GAME: Iowa State vs SMU. There could be some other nice matchups ... but this one should be the best game. The Cyclones are an extremely well coached team and I'd love to see Fred Hoiberg and Larry Brown play chess against each other.
South Region preview
East Region preview
West Region preview
Midwest Region preview