Well Kansas is the No. 1 overall seed, and while I do think the Jayhawks should’ve been sent to St. Louis, I don’t think anyone should worry about if Kansas and its fans will get to Des Moines. The first round could be in Auckland or Iceland and Jayhawks are going to get there. It will be an upset if Kansas doesn’t get to the Final Four. After that, anything can happen. I do think that having no freshmen in the rotation can help the Jayhawks. This group is experienced, talented and, of course, well-coached. I honestly don’t think anyone else in the South is capable of winning four straight, especially if Kansas is the fourth. Want a sleeper? The winner of Miami-Arizona if they both reach the second round.
Taking a look at the West, a number of teams could make a run. Oregon is playing as well as anyone, but in order to get there the Ducks might have to face Atlantic-10 tournament champion St. Joseph’s, who won 15 games away from home. Next up could be Coach K and Duke, followed by Oklahoma and Lon Kruger. Baylor is in play as the five seed, and I didn’t even mention SEC top seed Texas A&M and Shaka Smart’s Texas Longhorns. That is a lot of talent and coaching experience.
It’s interesting out East
I love UNC in the East Region, but following Kentucky will be fascinating. A win over Stony Brook means a potential matchup with Indiana, and then a week later could bring North Carolina. Want more? West Virginia or Xavier are also in the East. Remember this about North Carolina this year – the Tar Heels went 7-0 in neutral site games. On an even court, there are not many better. The sleeper? Sixth-seeded Notre Dame.
Out there in the Middle West
I am not sure who made this up but I love the phrase… January, February, IZZO, April. Virginia is the top seed, but as long as Michigan State is in a bracket, it will be the favorite. The past two years Virginia has been eliminated by Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament. There are other really good teams in play here, and if Seton Hall or Utah gets a crack at Sparty it will give them all they can handle.
It’s been a wonderful year of college basketball and I can’t wait to keep an eye on all the action this weekend from Westwood One’s New York studios. Jason Horowitz and I will jump you around from game to game so you don’t miss any of the best action. 48 games in four days! And four more from the First Four starting tonight. Wichita State versus Vanderbilt could be very good with the winner going to Providence to face Arizona. Let’s get it started!
– Bill Frieder
Former Michigan and Arizona State head coach Bill Frieder is an analyst for Westwood One’s coverage of NCAA Basketball. In his weekly blog Boxed Out, Bill scours the box scores to bring you interesting stories from the world of college basketball.