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March Madness is finally here! The NCAA Tournament starts Tuesday in Dayton with the First Four, so let’s get started breaking down each region. I will break down each region with in five ways :
Sell Stock In: don’t pick this team to go far your bracket
Buy Stock In: pick this team to go far in your bracket
Most Intriguing First Round Game
5 Fearless Predictions for Each Region
5 players to watch

Down South is where I stay and where I will start with my preview.
South
Sell Stock In: Pittsburgh, look I have a lot of respect for their program and head coach Jamie Dixon, but they only beat TWO top 50 teams. While they did look impressive against UNC in the ACC tourney, I don’t know if they can score consistently. In five of their nine losses, Pitt failed to score 60 points.
Buy Stock In: New Mexico, they won the Mountain West tourney and beat San Diego State two out of three times. Good defensively, experienced, and they have two really good big men in Cameron Bairstow and Alex Kirk. They are dangerous with a lot to prove because of their recent early exits in the last few years. Maybe they were seeded as a 7 because of those past failures?
Most Intriguing First Round Game: VCU vs Stephen F. Austin. Speed vs Patience, this game is the ultimate “contrast in styles”.
5 Fearless Predictions:
• Stephen F. Austin will beat VCU.
• The winner of the New Mexico/Stanford will give Kansas all kinds of trouble in Round 3.
• Syracuse will right the storm and get to the Sweet 16.
• Florida will win the region, I believe.
• Steve Alford will win an opening game for the first time since 1999 at Southwest Missouri State.

Five Players to Watch: Scottie Wilbekin, Florida (the heart and soul of the Gators), Andrew Wiggins, Kansas(his aggressiveness has caught my eye lately), Joel Embiid (his back in particular), Kansas, Jerami Grant, Syracuse (his return could propel the Orange from out of the doldrums), Kyle Anderson, UCLA (has improved so much from last year)

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East
Sell Stock In: Connecticut, I don’t think this team is as talented as some might believe. Yes they beat Florida, but Florida was short two players. Also, I do not see real balance offensively. They tend to lean on Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright way too much. They have NO ONE to give the ball to in the post at all.
Buy Stock In: Michigan State, I agree with their seeding because of their entire body of work, but they look like a 1 or 2 seed right now (don’t believe me, look at the Big 10 tourney where they dominated Michigan and Wisconsin). They are at full strength and ready to go after another Final Four appearance.
Most Intriguing First Round Game: North Carolina vs Providence. Providence is on a “high” after winning the Big East tournament. Can they hold their own against Carolina’s length? Which Carolina shows up?
5 Fearless Predictions:
• George Washington is a scary 9 seed that will beat Memphis.
• Michigan State will win the region, I believe.
• Saint Joseph’s, I think will sneak into the Sweet 16.
• The winner of North Carolina-Iowa State will play in the Elite 8.
• Cincinnati will somehow prevail in a grinder against Harvard.
Five players to Watch: Gary Harris, Michigan State, Adreian Payne, Michigan State, Joe Harris, Virginia Marcus Paige, UNC Melvin Ejim, Iowa State
Possible Upsets
Harvard over Cincinnati Providence over North Carolina

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West
Sell Stock In: Wisconsin, I know the draw looks favorable, but the draw looked favorable last year. The Badgers still lost their opening game to a hot Ole Miss team. As consistent as Bo Ryan has been in the regular season, his Badgers have been just as inconsistent in the postseason. Since their Elite 8 appearance in 2005, they have been knocked out 5 times in round 2 or earlier, and have not made an Elite 8. They have struggled at times this year defending athleticism, and while they are better offensively, I fear that a team that can score in bunches will beat them.
Buy Stock In: Oklahoma State, like Michigan State, I have no problem with their overall seeding, but they are playing a bit better than a 9 seed currently. Marcus Smart is a “man on a mission” since returning from his suspension proving his worth as a player and leader. They are looking more like the top 10 preseason team many thought they would be. A dangerous team to play for sure.
Most Intriguing First- Round Game: Baylor vs Nebraska. We’ll see whether or not the Huskers are just happy to be here. The key will be Nebraska’s ability to make shots against Baylor’s 1-1-3 zone.
5 Fearless Predictions:
• We will see multiple upsets in this region, it’s that wide-open.
• Doug McDermott’s ride will end early.
• Oregon WILL beat Wisconsin in Round 3.
• San Diego State will struggle, but get to the Sweet 16.
• Arizona will win the region.
Five Players to Watch: Aaron Gordon, Arizona Doug McDermott, Creighton , Xavier Thames, San Diego State , Isiah Austin, Baylor, Joseph Young, Oregon
Possible Upset Games
North Dakota State over Oklahoma Nebraska over Baylor
Bonus: New Mexico State over San Diego State
Midwest
Sell Stock In: Saint Louis, their 5 seed I think comes in part of how good the Atlantic 10 was this year. They did lose 4 of their last 5 games including shocking losses to Duquesne and St. Bonaventure. Good team, but not great. Give them credit though for winning a tough A-10. I don’t think they are offensively challenged at times.
Buy Stock In: Louisville. Heck, if Saint Louis got a 5 seed, then the Cardinals should have gotten at least a 2 seed. Louisville did not play a great non-conference slate, but it righted the ship and like Michigan State, they are hitting stride. With Rick Pitino and point guard Russ Smith, the Cards might just get back to the Final Four. Also, Montrezl Harrell is tapping into the potential that we thought he could find at the start of the season. He is in “beast mode” right now.
Most Intriguing First-Round Game: Texas vs Arizona State. This game features two really good point guards in Jahii Carson for ASU and Isiah Taylor for Texas. Watch out for ASU center Jordan Bachysnki, he is second in the nation in blocked shots and will be the difference in this game.
5 Fearless Predictions:
• Kentucky will LOSE to Kansas State.
• T.J. Warren will lead NC State to multiple wins.
• Michigan will struggle against the UT/ASU winner. I think they might be a tad overrated.
• Duke will not play a team that attacks their biggest weakness: rebounding until the Elite Eight.
• Louisville wins the region, I believe.
Players to Watch: Jabari Parker, Duke, Nik Stauskas, Michigan, Julius Randle, Kentucky, Montrezl Harrell, Louisville, Cle’Anthony Early, Wichita State
Possible Upsets
NC State over Saint Louis Iowa over UMass
Well, there it is. My preview for the opening week of the tourney is complete. I will probably be wrong on half of my predictions, but that’s why they are called PREDICTIONS!! Let the games begin, and have fun filling out brackets and watching the next three weeks of hoops!

Trey Barrett,
Writer Hoop Jargon

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