|Memphis' famed Beale Street|
TEAM TO BEAT: North Carolina. The Tar Heels won the nation's toughest league, the ACC, by two full games. They have all the parts to win the whole thing: they are the top rebounding team, are shooting threes much better than past years, are deep and have experience.
TEAM THAT WILL WIN THE REGION: North Carolina. This is kind of a glamour region with North Carolina, Kentucky and UCLA in it but the Tar Heels have the advantage of not having to face both the Wildcats and Bruins. This is a tough bracket and could be a must-see Sweet 16 round but I think Carolina is the more complete team in the bunch.
TEAM TO WATCH FOR (LESS THAN A NO. 3 SEED): Butler. The Bulldogs are being overlooked in this region. Maybe the roster and coach are different, but this is a program that went to consecutive championship games earlier this decade. Plus, they gave top overall seed Villanova two of their three losses. They won't be scared going up against any blue blood.
YOUR CINDERELLA: Middle Tennessee. Much of the same team that upset Michigan State in last year's tournament is back this year. As much as that was a huge moment in program history, Syracuse trashed them by 30 in the following round. The Blue Raiders want more and are capable of it. They get a somewhat favorable matchup with Minnesota then could surprise Butler.
WORST SEEDING ERROR: Wichita State. Look, there are a lot of seeding gripes in this region. UCLA is a 3? How is Minnesota a 5? But Wichita State sitting at a No. 10 is tough. The odd thing is that I saw them as a No. 7 seed so, actually, they are in the right part of the bracket but Dayton should be a bit peeved.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE: Kentucky. The games could be played in Australia and Wildcat fans will attend. Still, they just travel up the way to Indianapolis for the first weekend and then down to Graceland for the second. Not a huge haul for those fans. Still, wouldn't Memphis be fun with Kentucky, North Carolina and UCLA fans in the crowd?
MUST WATCH GAME: Cincinnati vs Kansas State. The 'Bob Huggins Used To Work Here' bowl. Both are feisty defensive teams who, this season, have learning to fill up the bucket. Kansas State showed well against Wake Forest in the First Four and will get the rare opportunity of two days off to prepare for Mick Cronin's Bearcats squad. We could either see a good offensive shootout or a scrappy defensive game. Either way, it should be a treat.
MUST WATCH (POTENTIAL) SECOND ROUND GAME: Kentucky vs Wichita State. A couple of years ago, the roles were reversed. Wichita State was the No. 1 seed who had to stare at a criminally mis-seeded No. 8 Kentucky team that would eventually make it to the title game. Kentucky will have to work for it if they want to get out of this one.