So what are the highlights? Let’s take a look.
South Region: Memphis, Tenn.
We’ll start with K-State’s region, the South. The top half features a 5-12 game where the 12 seed may well be favored, as Middle Tennessee State takes on Minnesota. Butler draws the always-dangerous Winthrop, and top-seeded North Carolina is faced with a squad familiar with knocking off Power 5 teams in Texas Southern.
The bottom half is where we find the Wildcats, with their play-in game against Wake Forest inexplicably on Tuesday even though the winner doesn’t play Cincinnati until Friday. That may be a nod to the long travel to Sacramento. Cincinnati, of course, is an old-school tournament nemesis of the Cats; the two teams played a series of epic contests back in the 1950s and 60s. Should K-State get to the second round, they’d likely face another team that the old-time Wildcats had history with, UCLA.
The other side of the bottom half features an absurdly unfair first-round game between Dayton and the woefully under-seeded Shockers, and Northern Kentucky’s reward for their first NCAA Tournament appearance is to face their in-state rival for whom all their students probably cheer, Kentucky.
Midwest Region: Kansas City, Mo.
That School Down the River, as expected, drew the top seed in the Midwest. They should have no problem advancing, where they’ll face the winner of an intriguing game between Miami and Michigan State. On the other side, Iowa State faces a 5-12 challenge with Nevada, and Purdue probably isn’t enjoying seeing Vermont looming.
The big news here, of course, is that if both Kansas and Iowa State advance to Kansas City, there will be riots.
They aren’t the only Big 12 schools who could end up at the Sprint Center, however. Oklahoma State also lurks in the region, taking on Big 10 tournament champs Michigan. To get to Kansas City, however, the Cowboys will also have to vanquish Louisville. Marcus Foster and Creighton are on the other side of the page, drawing the surprise Atlantic 10 tourney winners Rhode Island; Oregon and Iona complete the picture.
So the Big 12 got six teams in the field, and they stuck half of them in one region. Brilliant.
West Region: San Jose, Calif.
Gonzaga grabbed the top spot out west, and they’ll meet former Wildcat Michael Orris and the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in the opener. Next to them, we find a NERD FIGHT, as Vanderbilt meets... wait. That can’t be right. Northwestern? Yes, the other purple cats remove themselves from the Forgotten Five club, finally making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in history.
West Virginia grabbed a four seed, and they’ll take on KU’s old nemesis Bucknell in the first round. Notre Dame and Princeton occupy the 5-12 slot, and as always one cannot rule out the upset here.
Another first-timer in the field is North Dakota, tasked with getting past Arizona. The winner of that one will meet the winner of another unfair first-round game as Virginia Commonwealth and Saint Mary’s face off. Maryland takes on Xavier, and Florida State will try to avoid being the victims of yet another Dunk City Uprising. (Protip: FGCU is underseeded.)
East Region: New York, N.Y.
And that brings us to the top overall seed, the defending champion Villanova Wildcats. They grab the winner of the play-in between Mount Saint Mary’s and New Orleans, then the winner of an intriguing contest between Wisconsin and Virginia Tech. Virginia and Florida are facing problems, as both UNC-Wilmington and East Tennessee State are pretty good hoopybucket programs.
The final play-in game features Providence and Southern Cal, the winner getting a trip to Tulsa to meet Southern Methodist. The next game down the road will likely be against Baylor, although New Mexico State is always a bit scarier than you’d think. Frank Martin gets to take on Marquette to kick things off, while Duke shouldn’t have issues with Troy.
So, there you have it. Thoughts? Complaints? Anger? Let us know what’s on your mind.