“Selection Sunday” for this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament was this past Sunday, and 68 outstanding teams made the cut for this year’s “Big Dance.” Four play-in games were played on Tuesday and yesterday (Wednesday), which narrowed the field to 64 teams. The No. 1 seeds in this year’s tournament include undefeated Kentucky, Villanova, Duke and Wisconsin.
Most of the first-round games will be played today (Thursday) and tomorrow (Friday), which will cut the number of teams involved in the tourney down to 32. More than likely, the favored teams will win the first round games, but you can also probably expect an upset or two.
Teams that I expect to win their first round games in the Midwest Regional include Kentucky, Purdue, West Virginia, Maryland, Texas, Notre Dame, Wichita State and Kansas.
In the West Regional, I look for Wisconsin, Oregon, Arkansas, North Carolina, Baylor, Ohio State and Arizona to win their first-round games.
In the East Regional, I predict that Villanova, North Carolina State, Northern Iowa, Louisville, Oklahoma, Providence, Michigan State and Virginia will all be first-round winners.
Last, but not least, in the South Regional, I look for Duke, San Diego State, Utah, Georgetown, SMU, Iowa State, Iowa and Gonzaga to get out of the first round.
Many people are looking for Kentucky to make a strong run and to possibly finish the season unbeaten. However, I seriously doubt they’ll be able to navigate the tournament without falling along the way somewhere.
Kentucky will probably make the Final Four, but that might be as far as they get. Don’t be surprised if Kentucky faces either Wisconsin or Arizona in the Final Four round, which will be played on April 4. Wisconsin and Arizona stand a strong chance of beating Kentucky.
Interestingly, Sports Illustrated agrees. In last week’s issue of SI, Dan Greene predicted that five teams have a good shot at upsetting Kentucky. In addition to Wisconsin and Arizona, he also predicted that Virginia, Duke and Northern Iowa stand a chance of beating Kentucky.
Of course, we’re talking about the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and if anything can be said about that annual sporting event, it’s that it’s highly unpredictable. It’s nearly impossible to pick a perfect bracket, so you can bet some of the teams you think will go far, will get sent to the house early.
Personally, at this point, I look for the Final Four to include Kentucky, Wisconsin, Virginia and Gonzaga. From there, I expect Wisconsin to upset Kentucky and for Gonzaga to beat Virginia. In the finals, which will be played on April 6, I look for Wisconsin to beat Gonzaga.
With that said, this time next week, I’ll probably have a totally different opinion as soon as some bracket-busting underdog makes short work of millions of brackets across the country. Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure, we’ve got a lot of great college basketball to look forward to in the next few weeks.