After our cheap, quick-hit, easy looks at each bracket, the gang at Storming The Floor take considerably closer looks, game-by-game. Here's the Midwest Regional preview, with the West coming tomorrow.
1 Kansas vs. 16 Portland State (Omaha)
Kansas is one of the most experienced and well-rounded teams in this entire tournament, so it should the Jayhawks should be damn thankful that they landed perhaps the easiest regional of the No. 1 seeds. The Jayhawks should have absolutely no problem disposing of Portland State.
The Pick: Kansas
8 UNLV vs. 9 Kent State (Omaha)
This game right here is the ultimate 8-9 first round matchup. Why? Because it's nearly impossible to pick. UNLV is coming off a huge upset of BYU in its conference tournament, while Kent State picked up some big wins this season against George Mason and at St. Mary's. In the end, the coin toss went the Rebels' way.
The Pick: UNLV
5 Clemson vs. 12 Villanova (Tampa)
Anybody who witnessed Sunday's gem of a game between North Carolina and Clemson has got to agree - Clemson is for real. This is a team that has somehow, someway battled with North Carolina all season long and even defeated Duke in the ACC Tourney. Look for the Tigers to make a lot of noise in the early going of the tournament.
The Pick: Clemson
4 Vanderbilt vs. 13 Siena (Tampa)
Siena provides one of the lone, true upsets of this regional. They've got a win against Stanford under their belts this season and should take advantage of a Vanderbilt team that dropped three of its final five games of the season - including two to Arkansas (Hoosiers beware!).
The Pick: Siena
6 USC vs. 11 Kansas State (Omaha)
Ahh, yes - the battle of the two best freshmen in all of college basketball, O.J. Mayo and Michael Beas(t)ley. Put that aside for a moment though. The more interesting matchup may come between Mayo and K. State's Bill Walker, who are former high school teammates. In the end, Beasley will undoubtedly turn in yet another huge performance and lead his team to victory.
The Pick: Kansas State
3 Wisconsin vs. 14 CS Fullerton (Omaha)
Like Davidson, who I'll get to in a moment, momentum will be the ultimate key for the Badgers. Wisconsin played well during the Big Ten Tournament, despite a quasi-injury to Trevon Hughes who is still struggling to find his shot. As long as Brian Butch and Michael Flowers are playing well though - and Joe Krabbenhoft is up to his usual garbage-cleaning ways - the Badgers should advance to Round 2 without breaking a sweat.
The Pick: Wisconsin
7 Gonzaga vs. 10 Davidson (Raleigh)
Forget the Houston Rockets. Nobody cares about the NBA anyway, right? Well as everybody knows by now, the Wildcats have won 22 straight. Davidson played at UCLA, at Duke and at North Carolina early in the season, and lost all three...however, they lost by just six to Duke and just four to the Tar Heels. There's no question that Gonzaga is a formidable foe, but Davidson has all the momentum they need heading into this one.
The Pick: Davidson - the streak stays alive
2 Georgetown vs. 15 UMBC (Raleigh)
Everybody keeps talking about Roy Hibbert, the difference maker - and rightfully so. But Hoyas' guard Jessie Sapp - as well as the other G-Town guards - deserve some attention. Sapp and his backcourt mates will be the ultimate difference makers for the Hoyas in the tournament and could provide the extra push Georgetown needs to make a title run.
The Pick: Georgetown
Some Midwest Region Superlatives...
Dark Horse for Final Four: Clemson
Dark Horse for Sweet 16: Davidson
Best First Round Upset: Siena over Vanderbilt
Best Opening Round Game: Mayo-Beasley
Best Potential Game: Clemson-Villanova
Round of 32: Kansas over UNLV, Clemson over Siena, Wisconsin over Kansas State, Georgetown over Davidson
Sweet 16: Kansas over Clemson, Georgetown over Wisconsin
Elite Eight: Kansas over Georgetown
Regional Champ: Kansas