Lo and behold, the committee has once again slighted the Buffs with an 8-seed in the South Region. Many projected the Buffs to receive a high-end 7-seed, not the lowest 8-seed. And considering Oregon State inexplicably got a 7-seed, this stings. Now the Buffs are stuck in the loaded South Region, which is most definitely going to be the region that ruins your bracket.
Colorado will play Connecticut in the first round. Connecticut is 24-11 on the season and won the AAC Championship earlier today. Buzzer-beaters and all, the Huskies are scorching hot right now and pose a massive threat to the Buffaloes. A preview on this game will be posted on Ralphie Report later this week.
The top seed in the South Region is former Big XII foe Kansas. The Jayhawks are ranked No. 1 in the nation and swept the Big XII regular season (surprise, surprise) and tournament championships. They're also ranked first in RPI and in Ken Pomeroy's rankings. Kansas may be the best team in the nation, but they're not unbeatable. If Colorado gets past Connecticut, they have a shot at the upset in the first meeting between these teams since Askia's shot.
The Jayhawks will face Austin Peay in the first round. The Governors finished 18-17 (7-9) in the Ohio Valley Conference, and that's really all you need to know. There's no chance Kansas can lose this, but let's go Peay!
The matchup between 4-seed Cal and 13-seed Hawaii will be one of the best games of the first round. We all know how good Cal can be and how much talent they have, but this is no cakewalk. The 27-5 Rainbow Warriors, one of the best mid-majors in basketball, were thisclose to upsetting Oklahoma (2-seed in the West) in the Diamond Head Classic. They also nearly beat Texas Tech (8-seed in the Midwest) in Lubbock. If I had to choose any 13-seed to pull off an upset, this would be it.
The Maryland-South Dakota State 4-12 game also appears to be great. Maryland is led by sophomore guard Melo Trimble, one of the truly elite guards in college basketball. In support of Trimble, the Terrapins have an excellent supporting cast powered by Jake Layman, Rasheed Sulaimon, Robert Carter and freshman phenom Diamond Stone. Only a handful of teams are more talented then them. However, Maryland battle consistent as much as anybody.
South Dakota State Jackrabbits, powered by a three-pronged offensive attack, are rather dangerous and have shown in the past that they shan't be overlooked ('sup Nate Wolters). Before anyone makes this joke, this game will finally settle the dispute between the tortoise and the hare.
On the other side of the bracket, 2-seed Villanova is set to take on UNC Asheville in a surefire bloodbath. Nova just lost to Seton Hall in the Big East Championship, but no one should be surprised if they end up as NCAA champs.
Miami (3) and Buffalo (14) will be a much better than the one prior. Led by Sheldon McClellan and coached by the immortal Jim Larranaga, the Canes are for real. Just for a quick feel of how good they are, the Canes blew out Utah (neutral site) and criminally underrated Notre Dame in South Bend. Oh, and they beat Virginia a few ago.
Buffalo is in the tournament because they upset a very talented Akron squad. Not many people will pick the Bulls because of their mediocre MAC performance, but they have the potential to frighten Miami more than NCAA sanctions.
As a 6-seed, Arizona will await the winner of the Vanderbilt-Wichita State First Four matchup. You know Arizona and you know they are much better than a 6-seed. The committee made another questionable decision here.
Vanderbilt and Wichita State were both preseason Top 25 teams who have both disappointed. Despite playing well down the stretch with star point guard Fred VanVleet playing stellar ball, Wichita State lost to UNI in Arch Madness, a middling result that almost saw them get left out from the tournament.
Vanderbilt, led by potential lottery picks Wade Baldwin IV and Damian Jones, similarly disappointed. With only 19 wins on season in a decent conference, the Commodores' loss to Tennessee in the first round of the SEC Tournament was seen to be the nail in their coffin, but the committee surprised by including them. However this First Four game shakes out, Arizona should be worried about having to play such a talented team.
The 7-10 game here between Iowa and Temple is an interesting one, to say the least. The 21-11 Temple Owls (10) are in this tournament because they only lose to top-60 RPI teams (and Memphis) and because they've swept Connecticut and Cincinnati. With a schedule as difficult as their's, the best word for the Owls would be battle tested. And calling Owls battle tested reminds me of Legend of Guardians, a kid's movie about owls with an A+ voice cast and music from the one and only Owl City. Shut up, my little brother was 3 when it came out. And it's a really good movie.
Anyhow, Temple is rather good at basketball.
Iowa wasn't expected to contend for anything other than the bubble this season, but they surprised many with incredible play throughout the first half of the season. After sweeping Michigan State and Purdue, the two Big Ten finalists, Iowa found themselves No. 3 in the polls. People started talking about their Final Four potential and the Naismith Award chances of Jared Uthoff. Alas, the Hawkeyes proceeded to lose seven of their next ten games, which included a four-game skid and an ugly loss to 12-seed Illinois in the conference tournament. If the first version of Iowa shows up, they could make a deep run. If not, they could be one-and-done.