When you hear people talking about who got snubbed, complaining about seeds, and trying to convince their friends why they have Cornell in the Sweet 16 you know that it's official. The NCAA Men's Basketball tournament is here.
The brackets have been announced and the field of 65–the winner of Tuesday's play-in game between Arkansas Pine Bluff and Winthrop will play Duke–will get under-way Thursday.
Unlike last year, where from the beginning when North Carolina was the overwhelming favorite to win the title, this tournament brings more uncertainty.
While it is easy to pick the top teams to advance in the tournament, there are flaws with the top seeds in each region.
Here are some things to look for in this year's tournament. The regions are ranked by how difficult they are.
Top Four seeds: 1. Kansas, 2. Ohio State, 3. Georgetown, 4. Maryland
Best chance for 1st round upset: 10 Georgia Tech over 7 Oklahoma State. You will be hard pressed to find an upset in this bracket because the top six seeds are the strongest of any region. Georgia Tech has a NBA Draft lottery pick in Derrick Favors and could ride the momentum of making it to the ACC Tournament Final.
Analysis: Kansas is the overall number 1 seed in the tournament, but there were not given any favors by the selection committee. They drew the toughest region which makes no sense at all. The could potentially have to go through, Maryland who has Greivis Vasquez, Ohio State who has Evan Turner who could potentially be the National Player of the year. Both of which are NBA Lottery Draft Picks who can carry a team on their back. All of the top four seeds could advance and it would not be a surprise.
Prediction: Ohio State over Kansas. Although Kansas has the experience with Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins, Evan Turner is a special player that will help the Buckeyes advance to the final four.
Top 4 Seeds: 1. Syracuse, 2. Kansas State, 3. Pittsburgh, 4. Vanderbilt
Best chance for 1st round upset: 11 Minnesota over 6 Xavier. Minnesota made it to the Big Ten tournament final and has a good guard in Lawrence Westbrook and much improved Ralph Sampson III. Do not underestimate the coaching matchup between veteran Tubby Smith, and first year Xavier Coach Chris Mack.
Analysis: Syracuse comes in the tournament with some health issues. The status of Arinze Onuaku is in question and even if he returns it is doubtful he will be 100 percent. The orange are by no means a deep team either. Butler comes in as the 5 seed and could make a run in this tournament behind Matt Howard. Pittsburgh lacks a consistent go to guy that can carry a team on his back. Kansas State is the interesting team. They are coached by the always intense Frank Martin and have a go to guard in Denis Clemente.
Prediction: Kansas State over Butler. With Syracuse's lack of depth and injury issues they will have trouble advancing. Kansas State will be able to knock off Butler with their tough, athletic style.
Top 4 Seeds: 1. Kentucky, 2. West Virginia, 3. New Mexico, 4. Wisconsin
Best Chance for a 1st round upset: 12 Cornell over 5 Temple. Count me in on those who watched Cornell take Kansas in to the final minutes at Fog Allen Field house. They made me a believer there as a team that could do serious damage in the tournament.
Analysis: Kentucky and it's all everything freshman class have steam rolled through the SEC and are sitting in the #1 spot. John Wall, another candidate for player of the year, has been as good as advertised coming in as a freshman. West Virginia and Coach Bob Huggins play a tall lineup that features De'sean Butler who hit two game winning shots to propel the Mountaineers to the Big East tournament title. New Mexico at the 3 seed is lead by Coach Steve Alford who was a good coach at Iowa was a star player for Bob Knight at Indiana's national championship team in 1987.
Prediction: West Virginia over Kentucky. What a coaching matchup this would be, the always cordial (sarcasm) Bob Huggins and the brash and cocky John Calipari. Great play by Butler and Devin Ebanks help the veteran Mountaineers to the final four.
Top 4 Seeds: 1. Duke, 2. Villanova, 3. Baylor, 4. Purdue
Best Chance for a 1st round upset: 13 Siena over 4 Purdue. The Boilermakers have fallen fast after the loss of Robbie Hummel and if they play at all like they did against Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament where they had 11 points at the half, not only will Siena win they will blow out Purdue.
Analysis: Duke should be pretty happy with what they got in their bracket. Villanova and Purdue, two of the top four seeds, come in on losing streaks and have questions of if they will survive the first weekend. Baylor could pose a challenge, but the Blue Devils by far got the easiest path to the final four.
Prediction: Duke over Baylor. If you put Duke in the other three brackets I do not think they make it to the final, but I just can't see them losing in this region. With go to players John Scheyer and Kyle Singler Duke will prevail over the Bears.