SB Nation Minnesota
Stay connected for news and updates Follow @sbnminnesota
Like us to subscribe
The winner of our final bracket, the Southwest Regional, will take on the winner of the Southeast Regional in the Final Four in Houston. The Kansas Jayhawks sit atop this bracket, as they won both the regular season and tournament titles in the Big 12 Conference.
Who's overseeded? I'd have to say West Virginia, who has never been particularly good outside of Morgantown. They're lucky to have gotten the benefit of playing the winner of a play-in game in their first match-up. At the very least, I think the Mountaineers should have had their seedings flip-flopped with Vanderbilt. Of course, if those two teams meet in the Round of 32, I suppose it won't matter much.
Which team has "Danny Manning" potential? How's about we take a Big Ten team here and say the Purdue Boilermakers, thanks to JaJuan Johnson? Remember how much trouble everyone thought Purdue was in when Robbie Hummel got hurt (again)? Well, part of the reason they weren't was because of Johnson, the Big Ten Player of the Year and a first-team All-American.
Potential first-round upset: I'm not sure why the Richmond Spiders wound up with a No. 12 seed, but Vanderbilt had better be on their toes. Also, Georgetown's fate against either Southern Cal or Virginia Commonwealth may depend on the health of forward Chris Wright, who has been cleared to play in the tournament after breaking his hand, but nobody knows how effective he'll be at this point. Lastly, if Morehead State's Kenneth Faried. . .who passed Tim Duncan this year as college basketball's all-time leading rebounder. . .can have his way with Louisville's small-ish forwards, Rick Pitino's bunch could find themselves heading home early.
Sweet 16 Picks: Kansas vs. Richmond, Purdue vs. Notre Dame
Elite Eight Picks: Kansas vs. Purdue
Predicted Southwest Bracket Winner: Kansas
So, this gives me three number one seeds in the Final Four. Will it actually play out that way? Probably not. . .but that's part of the fun of March Madness, isn't it?
Let's move on to the Southeast Regional, where the Pittsburgh Panthers claimed the top overall seed by being the best team in the Big East Conference during the regular season. Yes, they got knocked out early in the Big East Tournament, but their body of work was impressive enough to get them a top spot, and with little argument.
Who's overseeded? Look no further than the region's second seed, the Florida Gators. Being a number two seed implies that you're one of the eight best basketball teams in the country. While Florida is a good team, I'm not sure if that's a heading they fall under.
Which team has "Danny Manning" potential? As the young lad in the wheelchair from South Park might put it. . .JIMMER! JIMMER JIMMER JIMMER! Even with the loss of Brandon Davis because BYU is, apparently, run by the town elders from Footloose, Jimmer Fredette could easily carry the Cougars a long way in this tournament. Guy dropped 52 in a Mountain West Tournament game, for crying out loud.
Potential first-round upset: Man, this bracket is just full of them, in my opinion. I think the strongest chance for an upset lies in the 5/12 game between Kansas State and Utah State. The Aggies are close to home, and the Wildcats have been terribly inconsistent. Also, now that D.J. Kennedy's season is done, don't be surprised if Gonzaga takes down the Red Storm of St. John's.
Sweet 16 Picks: Pittsburgh vs. Utah State, BYU vs. UCLA
Elite Eight Picks: Pittsburgh vs. BYU
Predicted Southeast Bracket Winner: Pittsburgh
The Panthers were the best team in the best conference in America during the regular season, and I think this is going to be the year that coach Jamie Dixon gets his team to the Final Four.
The winner of the East Regional, which you can see the preview for right here, will match up with the winner of the West regional in the 2011 Final Four in Houston. The Duke Blue Devils are the top seed, as they reached up and took the one top seed that had been a bone of contention in the days leading up to Selection Sunday.
Who's overseeded? If I had to pick a team from this region to give that label to, it might be the Cincinnati Bearcats, who were last seen losing in the Big East Tournament by thirty-eight points. Yes, I know that they're out of the Big East and all that, but still. . .thirty-eight points? Really?
Which team has "Danny Manning" potential? Seriously, did you watch the Big East Tournament? How ridiculous was Connecticut's Kemba Walker? Absolutely, positively, freaking ridiculous, that's how ridiculous. As scary as this might sound, the Huskies may have an easier road in the West regional than they did in the Big East Tournament, and Walker has shown himself to be as clutch as it gets in this year's field.
Potential first-round upset: I like Missouri to take down Cincinnati, as I mentioned in the first paragraph there, and look for the Oakland Golden Grizzlies to at least give the Texas Longhorns a battle, if not beat them outright.
Sweet 16 Picks: Duke vs. Arizona, Connecticut vs. San Diego State
Elite Eight Picks: Arizona vs. Connecticut
Predicted West Bracket Winner: Connecticut
Hey, if you want to bet against Kemba Walker at this point, you go right ahead and do that. I won't be joining you.
Since the East Regional is the home of the tournament's top overall seed, that seems like as good a place as any to start. The Ohio State Buckeyes have spent the better part of the season at the top of the NCAA Men's Basketball polls, and with good reason. . .they're the most talented team in college basketball, in my opinion, and I'm not just saying that as a Big Ten homer. But this region is going to be tougher than it might appear at first blush.
Who's overseeded? Well, to be honest, it doesn't appear that anyone in this region is overseeded. It looks like the committee got this one right, and that means this region is going to be a tough one for the Big Ten champions.
Which team has "Danny Manning" potential? "Danny Manning" potential is where one guy carries a team on a huge run, much like Manning did for the Kansas Jayhawks in 1988. For this region, I think that guy could be Xavier guard Tu Holloway, who has a lot of Stephen Curry in his game. If he can get hot, he can shoot the Musketeers past a lot of teams, much like Curry did for Davidson in 2008.
Potential first-round upset: This is going to sound strange, but don't sleep on the Blackbirds of Long Island University. Yes, they have a very tough match-up against North Carolina in the first round, but LIU is fourth in the nation in scoring, and could give the Tarheels fits.
Sweet 16 Picks: Ohio State vs. Kentucky, Xavier vs. North Carolina
Elite Eight Picks: Ohio State vs. North Carolina
Predicted East Bracket Winner: Ohio State
Yes, this might be the toughest region on the board, but it's hard to pick against the Buckeyes. If they play to the level of their talent, there's no reason for me to believe they won't find themselves in Houston.
Now that Selection Sunday is in the books and we know which teams are playing where and against who, bracket fever is once again sweeping America. The first ever field of 68 will begin play tomorrow with the "First Four" (which you can see the schedule for right here), and the first days of real action will be this Thursday and Friday.
Since everybody else figures that they can get into the bracket prediction business, there's no way that we wanted to let ourselves feel left out of things. So, over the course of the next couple of days, we'll be giving you some predictions on how we think the field is going to shake out. We'll predict the Sweet 16, the Elite Eight, and the Final Four, region by region.
We'll also have full coverage of the tournament for you here at SB Nation Minnesota, so be on the lookout for that.
So, with that having been said, let's get to some of the predictions!