Our region previews are all set and ready, but they can wander all over a front page loaded with news. This is everything boiled down into one place: the best matchups, the players to watch, and those teams to hate from the moment they walk onto the floor. The skinny is below, but clicking on the title gets you the full region treatment. Keep scrolling down and you’ll find our reaction to Xavier’s entry to the tournament, a pre-game chat with Testudo Times, and the ways that Xavier can make the Sweet 16.
Overseeded: Nobody. “The fact of the matter is this bracket is loaded.”
Underseeded: #5 Virginia
Easy to like: #13 ETSU. “These guys just flat out get after it and dare you to beat them by being more efficient.”
Easy to hate: #2 Duke. Obviously.
Fun to watch: #10 Marquette.
Danger team: #12 UNCW. “If they get hot, which they can, they’re going to make enough of their possessions pay to pull a shock.”
Best matchup: #7 South Carolina v. #10 Marquette
Player to watch: TJ Cromer, ETSU
Overseeded: #5 Minnesota “Their best non conference win was Arkansas or Vandy, after which the drop off in quality steeply slopes to a 6 point home win over St. John’s.”
Underseeded: #10 Wichita St.
Easy to like: #12 MTSU. The alma mater of Julien Baker plays some good ball.
Easy to hate: Just about everyone. “A conversation about basketball with any member of either fanbase is willingly submitting to a series of equally ignorance and entitlement driven drone strikes on your will to live.”
Fun to watch: #3 UCLA
Danger team: #11 Kansas State. They’ve already won one.
Best matchup: #7 Dayton v. #10 Wichita St.
Player to watch: Giddy Potts, MTSU
Overseeded: Nobody. “Can you make a couple of quibbles here? Probably, but there’s nothing egregious.”
Underseeded: #10 Oklahoma St. “If they can push the tempo, they’ll give anybody a run for their money.”
Easy to like: #12 Nevada.
Easy to hate: #2 Louisville. “His only redeeming attribute is how mad he makes UK fans.”
Fun to watch: #4 Purdue.
Danger team: #5 Iowa St. “This is an extremely veteran team that isn’t going to fold under pressure or beat itself.”
Best matchup: #7 Michigan v. #10 Oklahoma St. “If you were seeding just by KenPom ranking, these teams would both be 5 seeds.”
Player to watch: Caleb Swanigan, Purdue.
Overseeded: #6 Maryland.
Underseeded: #4 West Virginia. “And they went 26-8 with five of those losses coming to the murderer’s row the also beat up on.”
Easy to like: #8 Northwestern.
Easy to hate: #5 Notre Dame/ #14 FGCU. “This is not your grandmother’s Dunk City squad.”
Fun to watch: #9 Vanderbilt. Pure basketballing chaos.
Danger team: #12 Princeton. “What they do that makes them dangerous is both slow the pace and turn you over.”
Best matchup: #6 Maryland v. #11 Xavier.
Player to watch: Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s.
After 38 very long Selection Show minutes, Xavier was the last team to be announced as making the field. If anything other than relief coursed through your veins at that moment, it had likely been introduced illegally.
Xavier’s first round opponent isn’t an unfamiliar one in the NCAA tournament. Things didn’t go X’s way the last time, despite David West. How has Maryland gotten her and, just as importantly, what do they eat for brunch down there?
It’s sort of Xavier’s basketball birthright: .500 or above in conference play for three decades, beating Dayton any time they travel south, and advancing to the Sweet 16. The Musketeers were awesome last year, then they lost in the second round. This year they’ve been less awesome, but that doesn’t mean the Sweet 16 is out of reach.