We preview this week's 2010 NCAA tournament by first taking a look at each of the regional brackets. We start in the East, working our way from east to west.
Here is the East Bracket:
(1) Kentucky vs. (16) East Tennessee State
(8) Texas vs. (9) Wake Forest
(5) Temple vs. (12) Cornell
(4) Wisconsin vs. (13) Wofford
(6) Marquette vs. (11) Washington
(3) New Mexico vs. (14) Montana
(7) Clemson vs. (10) Missouri
(2) West Virginia vs. (15) Morgan State
Best First-Round Matchup
Brian: Certainly the most interesting matchup in my opinion is 21-10 Clemson vs. 22-10 Missouri in the 7-10 matchup. Both teams final few games of the regular season look nearly identical. Both lost to the arguably the second best teams in their conferences in away games late in the season (Maryland and Kansas State). Both lost to tournament bound teams in the regular season finale (Wake Forest and Kansas). Both programs are Tigers. And both got upset by double-digit seeds in their first game of the conference tournament (#11 N.C. State and #12 Nebraska). Given these two teams’ similar paths down the stretch, this may be the closest game in the bracket.
Jeff: The first round games in this reason are nothing to get too excited about. A lot of people will be interested in the Texas-Wake Forest game but I'd be much more interested watching those teams if they were not playing each other. They're both teams that could beat just about anyone in the tournament but can also be beaten by anyone. Since they're playing each other, there's not much to gauge. Instead, I be watching the Temple-Cornell matchup to see what Cornell is made of. I, like Jay Bilas of ESPN, think Cornell can win a few games so it starts by beating Temple.
Matchup We'd Most Like To See
Jeff: Cornell-Clemson in the Elite Eight. This might not be what everyone else in America wants but I have ties to both of these schools and would love to see it. Chance of it happening? Less than 1&?
Brian: Kentucky-West Virginia in the Elite Eight. A showdown of conference champs that survived and advanced through their conference tournament with timely shots. West Virginia, in particular, won the Big East tournament by winning 3 games by a combined 7 points. After spending most of the year as a top 4 team, Kentucky can’t be happy to see West Virginia in their bracket, one of the hottest teams in the Big East and in the field of 65.
Trendy Bandwagon Pick
Brian: No one really stands out to me as a true bandwagon pick in this bracket. No. 3 seeded New Mexico played a very light non-conference schedule and I think they are seeded much higher than they should be. Wisconsin, Temple, Marquette and Clemson all have their flaws. One team I think can make some noise is 11 seeded Washington, who got a favorable draw with Marquette and then plays the winner of New Mexico-Montana. I can see Washington reclaiming some pride for the much maligned Pac 10 by getting through the first weekend and even possibly advancing to the Elite Eight. Just playing a hunch.
Jeff: Just like all the regions we'll see, there is a huge drop-off after the top 2 seeds so it is difficult to find someone past the top two lines that a lot of people are picking to go deep. I think Cornell will get as much love or more than any other 12 seed but maybe not enough to call it trendy.
The Sleeper Pick
Brian: If Temple can get past Ivy League champ Cornell, I can see them beating the Wisconsin-Wofford winner and making a run at No. 1 Kentucky in the Sweet 16. The Owls have a strong resume for a team from the A-10, and haven’t lost in over a month. The only thing that gives me pause is Temple’s 84-52 beatdown they received from Kansas back on January 2. But that was quite a while ago so I’ll give Temple the benefit of the doubt and select them as a potential sleeper in this Region.
Jeff: My sleeper comes from that same game but is Cornell. I've managed to mention Cornell in my answer to each question so this should be no surprise. I have them winning a few games and if that comes true, Cornell beating Kentucky will certainly be the upset of the tournament.
Second Round: Kentucky, Wake Forest, Cornell, Wisconsin, Marquette, New Mexico, Clemson, West Virginia
Sweet 16: Kentucky, Cornell, New Mexico, Clemson
Elite 8: Cornell, New Mexico
Final Four Pick: New Mexico
Second Round: Kentucky, Texas, Temple, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Washington, Missouri, West Virginia
Sweet 16: Kentucky, Wisconsin, Washington, West Virginia
Elite 8: Kentucky, West Virginia
Final Four Pick: West Virginia