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NCAA Tournament breakdown, sleepers, favorites, upset picks

Can the Wildcats do it again?Getty Images

Here’s a brief primer on each of the four regions as you get ready to gamble when March Madness kicks off this week. Be sure to pick up Tuesday’s Metro for a two-page, pullout bracket for you to complete:

East Regional

Top seed: Villanova

Teams to watch: No. 2 Duke, No. 3 Baylor, No. 8 Wisconsin, No. 5 Virginia

Sleepers: No. 12 UNC Wilmington, No. 13 East Tennessee State

Player to watch: Josh Hart, Villanova

Breakdown: The top overall seed is Villanova — no surprise — and they’ll begin their title defense in Buffalo where they will be pitted against the winner of the first-four matchup between New Orleans and Mount St. Mary’s.

On upset alert surely is No. 5 Virginia, which will have to contend with No. 12 UNC Wilmington — a team that nearly upset Duke a year ago.

Speaking of Duke, the ACC champs will be playing with purpose being overlooked for a No. 1 seed. Any renegade Final Four hopeful will have to pass through Nova and Duke, a tall task.

Midwest Regional

Top seed: Kansas

Teams to watch: No. 2 Louisville, No. 5 Iowa State, No. 3 Oregon

Sleepers: No. 12 Nevada

Player to watch: Frank Mason, Kansas

Breakdown: Kansas earns a No. 1 seed for a ridiculous 13th time and starts close to home in Tulsa against the winner of NC Central and UC Davis’ play-in game.

They’ll face the winner of a very tough, big conference 8-9 match when Miami and Michigan State face off.

Iowa State, fresh off a Big 12 Tournament title, wil look to avoid a big upset against Nevada in a 12-5 match to watch.

Louisville has the chance to make a run at a Final Four spot with the No. 2 seed as does Oregon at No. 3 in the region.

A Big 10 Tournament title got Michigan a No. 7 seed where they’ll be on upset watch against No. 10 Oklahoma State.

South Regional

Top seed: North Carolina

Teams to watch: No. 2 Kentucky, No. 3 UCLA,No. 4 Butler

Sleepers: No 10. Wichita State, No. 12 Middle Tennessee

Player to watch: Malik Monk, Kentucky

Breakdown: UNC as a No. 1 seed comes as a bit of a surprise, as they lost twice to No. 2 Duke (the eventual ACC Tournament winner) but they did win the ACC regular season crown. After they take care of Texas Southern they’ll face the winner of Seton Hall and Arkansas.

Butler is a team to watch, as the Bulldogs have beaten No. 2 overall Nova twice. Kentucky at No. 2 is also a big threat to make it to the Final Four as is No. 3 UCLA.

West Regional

Top seed: Gonzaga

Teams to watch: No. 2 Arizona, No. 5 Notre Dame,

Sleepers: No. 13 Bucknell, No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast, No. 7 St. Mary’s

Player to watch: Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga

Breakdown: Playing way out west, No. 1 Gonzaga is a under the radar in the WAC. But at 32-1 and a top seed they won’t be overlooked much longer. They have one of the easiest roads to a Final Four.

Northwestern makes its first ever appearance as a No. 8 seed, and they’ll face No. 9 Vanderbilt in Salt Lake City on Thursday.

Princeton won the first ever Ivy League tournament and will play Notre Dame as a 12-seed.

Arizona at No. 2 is another big contender in the West, but No. 3 Florida State better watch out against legendary Cinderella FGCU.

 

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