Figured I'd put my entire preview in one post, I'll go through each region, giving you which teams are better than thought, which are worse and picks for the Final Four and Championship. One things for sure, this field is probably as hard as I can remember, only one team I felt any confidence in going to Houston. Maybe that means I'll win big, when if I had all the confidence in my Final Four, I'd probably lose it by Friday. Anyway, here's the regions.
This is with the West as the toughest region, a little more because of the name schools North Carolina, Syracuse and Kentucky are playing like their reputation, making it harder for number 1 overall Ohio St. Doesn't help that Washington, Xavier, West Virginia and George Mason play here too.
-Potential Cinderella: We have two, Marquette and Washington. The Huskies have Isaiah Thomas, who's capable of starting a long tourney run, while Marquette is one of the better coached teams in the Big Dance.
-Potential Pumpkin: North Carolina. I know they won the ACC and have Harrison Barnes, but they scared me in the ACC Tourney by trailing big in every game. Also, this year seems too soon for a Final Four Tar Heel team.
-Picks: OSU, Kentucky, Syracuse and Washington in Sweet 16. Kentucky and Cuse in Elite 8 and the Wildcats to win region. No one is picking Kentucky and I like how they're playing now. Plus, the early struggles I think will help them at this of year.
This is the other tough region, talent-wise, the top 4 seeds can each make the Final Four. Kyrie Irving will be back for Duke, Duke haters can only hope he doesn't transition seamlessly back into the flow for the Blue Devils, or you're looking at back-to-back titles.
-Potential Cinderella: This bracket is full of Cinderellas, as Oakland, Temple and Missouri all could outperform their seed; at least are the trending upset picks. Missouri gets that moniker because of Mike Anderson's pressure style, Oakland also plays uptempo and has an NBA-caliber big and Temple plays well in the halfcourt. Other possible Cinderella; Bucknell catching a tired UConn squad.
-Potential Pumpkin: UConn only because they are spent from the Big East Tourney (though it would have to be Kemba Walker who's spent), but Texas is a team I never like in the NCAA's. Rick Barnes is someone you should always pick against in the tournament; hell he couldn't even get the Longhorns to the Sweet 16 when Kevin Durant was playing there.
-Picks: Duke, Arizona, UConn and San Diego State reach Sweet 16 (Zona after beating Oakland in the "third round"). Duke and UConn face in the Elite 8 with Kemba taking the Huskies to the Final Four. Now don't sleep tomorrow against Bucknell.
This bracket seems like it should go to Kansas. It's not too weak like we'll see in the Southwest, as Notre Dame, Purdue and Louisville are legitimately good. The Jayhawks, of course, will try to right the wrongs of last year's first round exit.
-Potential Cinderella: Richmond is good and can advance far, both VCU and Georgetown can outperform their seed. The Hoyas in particular are a potential Final Four team if Chris Wright is healed from his hand injury. Otherwise, they will be one and done.
-Potential Pumpkin: We outlined Georgetown, but Vanderbilt also stands to be an early loser. They probably are the most nondescript five seed that I can remember.
-Picks: Richmond gets the upset over Vandy, loses to Louisville in the second round (calling it third round before was sarcasm, we'll call the rounds correctly from now on). Louisville is joined by Kansas, ND and Purdue; with a Kansas/Purdue Elite 8 and Kansas heads to Houston.
A horror show of a region that includes the worst 2 seed, the worst 3 and a 4 who lost their last game 36-33. All signs point to Pitt cleaning up this region, but if you know the history with the Pitt Panthers, you know that you can't make that assumption.
-Potential Cinderella: There are Cinderellas everywhere; Utah St, Belmont and Gonzaga as first round potential upset winners, with St. John's, UCLA and Michigan St as potential surprise Sweet 16's at the very least. Even Old Dominion is getting upset talk, the only 8/9 seed who's I think is getting that talk this year.
-Potential Pumpkin: Also littered, as Florida was overseeded at a 2 (unless you tell my Al Horford is coming back). BYU would have been the potential Final Four team, until they threw Brandon Davies off the team, now it's up to Jimmer to carry the Cougars as far as he can. Meanwhile, both Wisconsin and Kansas State are capable of losing early, the shame is the Wildcats probably could go far like last year, but get a tough draw in Utah State.
-Picks: I have Utah State over Belmont to go to the Sweet 16, joining Pitt, BYU and UCLA. Then the Panthers head to the Final Four with a win over the Bruins.
UConn over Kentucky
Kansas over Pitt
Kansas over UConn