Bracket basics: A breakdown of each NCAA regional tournament

Bracket basics: A breakdown of each NCAA regional tournament

March 16th, 2015 by Mark Wiedmer in Sports - College

Looking for some tips for your office pool? Times Free Press sports writer Mark Wiedmer breaks down each regional tournament.

EAST REGION

Syracuse, N.Y.

* Best team: Top-seeded Villanova, which has won its last nine games by an average of 18.7 points.

* Best first-round game: No. 7 seed Michigan State vs. No. 10 Georgia in Charlotte, N.C. on Friday. Two well-coached, physical teams that prefer the score remain in the 60s.

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2015 NCAA Final Four logo.

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Document: Men's NCAA Division I bracket

Download the bracket for the 2015 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship.

Source: The Associated Press

* Most likely Cinderella (No. 5 seed or worse): Seventh-seeded Michigan State, which led Wisconsin by 11 points in Sunday's Big Ten Tournament title game before eventually losing to the Badgers in overtime.

* Player to watch: N.C. State point guard Cat Barber, who might be gone after Villanova in the second round but is arguably the most athletic, creative quarterback in the regional.

* Most overrated team: Fourth-seeded Louisville. The Cards can guard, but they can't shoot well enough (43 percent from the field overall and just 30 percent from the 3-point line) to full-court press as much as needed.

* Scariest potential match-up for a top seed: Eighth-seeded N.C. State in the third round. The Pack overpowered Duke in January and won at Louisville in Feb. They have enough talent to beat anyone in the field.

* Regional final prediction: Villanova over second-seeded Virginia.

SOUTH REGION

Houston

* Best team: Top-seeded Duke. The Blue Devils won at fellow No. 1 seed Wisconsin, knocked off Virginia on the road and swept North Carolina. Hard not to be a No. 1 with that resume.

* Best first-round game: Fifth-seeded Utah versus No. 12 Stephen F. Austin (12) in Portland on Thursday. S.F. Austin's Lumberjacks are first in the NCAA in assists (17.8) and ninth in scoring (79.4). Conversely, Utah is 11th in points allowed (56.9). The irresistible force against the immovable object.

* Most likely Cinderella (No. 5 seed or worse): Sixth-seeded SMU. The Mustangs are long and agile and coached by the only man to ever win both an NCAA title and NBA crown in Larry Brown. If they don't fall to Iowa State in round of 32, they could reach regional final.

* Player to watch: Iowa State forward George Niang, who stands 6-8, but is most dangerous from deep. A difficult match-up for everyone.

* Most overrated team: Fourth-seeded Georgetown. The Hoyas have 10 losses overall, including five of their last 12. Other than a win over Villanova in early January, it's hard to see why they aren't a No. 9 seed at best.

* Scariest potential match-up for a top seed: Third-seeded Iowa State. When they're on, as they were in double-figure comebacks throughout the Big 12 tourney, the Cyclones have the speed and athleticism to test Duke's relative lack of depth.

* Regional final prediction: Top-seeded Duke over No. 3 Iowa State.

MIDWEST REGION

Cleveland, Ohio

* Best team: Top-ranked, undefeated Kentucky. The Wildcats are like Noah's Ark. They've got two McDonald's All-Americans for every position.

* Best first-round game: Seventh-seeded Wichita State versus No. 10 Indiana on Friday in Omaha, Neb. Wichita State isn't as good as last year -- when they entered this event with a 34-0 record -- but they're smart and they guard. Indiana isn't either of those things, but they can score on anyone.

* Most likely Cinderella (No. 5 seed or worse): No. 11 Texas. The Longhorns lead the nation in blocked shots, they barely lost at Kansas three weeks ago and led Iowa State by 17 points in the Big 12 tourney before losing.

* Player to watch: Maryland's senior small forward Dez Wells, who's quicker than big players and stronger than small players. As complete a wing as there is in college basketball.

* Most overrated team: Second-seeded Kansas, which has been besieged by injuries, NCAA trouble with freshman forward Cliff Alexander and not the typical cohesiveness and fire that normally defines Bill Self teams.

* Scariest potential match-up for the top seed: Fourth-seeded Maryland in Sweet 16. The Terrapins are tall and have a NBA first-round pick in point guard Melo Trimble. Kentucky has struggled to stop quickness off the dribble, and there aren't many players quicker than the Terps' Trimble and Dez Wells.

* Regional final prediction: Kentucky defeats Texas.

WEST REGION

Los Angeles

* Best team: Second-seeded Arizona, which crushed Oregon in the Pac 12 final, outlasted Gonzaga early in the year and has won 11 straight -- eight of those by 20 or more points.

* Best first-round game: Sixth-seeded Xavier versus BYU-Ole Miss play-in winner on Thursday in Jacksonville, Fla. The Musketeers are tough and balanced, as is offensive-minded BYU or defensive-minded Ole Miss.

* Most likely Cinderella (No. 5 seed or worse): Xavier. Against shocking South Regional No. 4 seed Georgetown, the Musketeers won both regular-season meetings by an average of 15 points.

* Player to watch: Arizona freshman Stanley Johnson, who is a probable lottery pick and gives the Cactus Cats a reliable perimeter defender and shooter.

* Most overrated team: None.

* Scariest potential match-up for the top seed: No. 4 North Carolina in Sweet 16. The Tar Heels can board with anyone, are more athletic overall and have the depth to challenge Wisconsin and force them to play faster than they'd like.

* Regional final prediction: Arizona defeats Wisconsin.

Bracket for the 2015 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

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