Metro breaks down the brackets:
Villanova is the top seed in the East after a fantastic regular season that only included two losses. They also won their first Big East title in 20 years. The WIldcats will face another Pennsylvania team, Lafayette in Pittsburgh in the first round.
A No. 5-seed sleeper, Northern Iowa could make a deep run if they can handle No. 4 seeded Louisville from the loaded ACC.
Another ACC contender awaits at the bottom of the Eastern region in Virginia (No. 2), but watch out, Belmont has pulled off epic upsets in the past and is no stranger to playing as a very low seed.
The feel-good story from Championship week, the Albany Great Danes will look for more divine intervention as the seek an upset against third-seeded Oklahoma. They won their conference tournament after Peter Hooley made a prayer of a three to win just days after his mother passed away.
Boise State and Dayton will vie for the No. 11 seed in a play-in game Wednesday.
Metro’s pick:Villanova has answered every question this year, using stellar defense and a ferocious offense to compile a 32-2 record (with 15 straight wins headed into the tournament). Big Man Daniel Ochefu can handle any center in the country while the Big East Tournament’s most valuable player Josh Hart came off the bench to score 17.7 points per game, making 21-of-29 shots from the field.
Kentucky, no shocker, is the bona fide favorite in the region, carrying an SEC title and unbeaten record as well as two of the NBA’s top seven prospects to the tournament with them. A very good No. 4 seed will be hoping to thwart the perfect Wildcats in the Maryland Terrapins. Also keep a eye on No. 2 seeded Kansas, which lost the Big 12 title game to Iowa State but has the ability to keep Kentucky on its heals should they face off.
In a selection committee special, Indiana (a 10 seed) will face Wichita State out of the MVC, a pick-em matchup.
The ACC regular season champs from Notre Dame took care of Duke in the conference tournament and may be a tough out for Kentucky (assuming they don’t fall victims to Kansas at the bottom of the Midwest bracket.)
Very few upset opportunities look to lie in this region, but bubble-entrant Texas could have a winnable game against the No. 6 Bulldogs fro Butler.
Metro’s pick: Kentucky might not achieve perfection, but their path to the final-four — while perhaps fitted with land mines (like Maryland, Kansas and Notre Dame) — can be tamed. The Wildcats might go down as one of the best college hoops squads of all time. They’re the pick here.
For the 13th time, the Duke Blue Devils are a No. 1 seed and Jahlil Okafor and Co. will square off against the winner of North Florida and Robert Morris in the second round.
Assuming the Blue Devils don’t become the first No. 1 seed to fall to a 16, Duke will have a tough third round matchup against either St. John’s or San Diego State.
Without question, the most buzz in the South is centered around No. 11 UCLA, which controversially snuck into the field of 68 despite having not beaten many top-notch teams this season. The Bruins will face Larry Brown’s SMU squad on Thursday.
Metro pick: No. 4 Georgetown
How will the West be won? The hard way.
The West is the roughest bracket as it has a No. 2 Arizona squad that could have easily been a No. 1 and a sharp-shooting Baylor team that quietly put together of a fabulous season. Oh, and that little unknown school that wears Tar Heel blue? It’s a 4-seed in this region.
North Carolina will face No. 13 Harvard on Thursday as former Blue Devil Tommy Amaker looks to upend Roy Williams’ group.
No. 1 seed Wisconsin could certainly make it through to Indianapolis, but it will have plenty of battle scars to show off in three weeks if that’s the case.
Metro pick: No. 3 Baylor