Best Player you’ve Never Heard Of: Kenneth Faired– F/C – Morehead State Eagles
— Faired passed Tim Duncan this season for the Division I all-time rebounding record. He’s a force down low that can give the undersized Louisville Cardinals problems down low. Faired is averaging 17.6 points per game, and 14.5 rebounds per game this season. Keep your eye on Faired, because if Morehead wants to upset Lousiville, Faired will have to have a big game.
Most Overseeded: Vanderbilt Commodores -5
Some might argue this and that’s fine, it’s hard to find a team in this region that was over seeded. Vandy was only 4-4 against the AP Top 25 this season, and finished 9-7 in a weak SEC conference. A seven/eight seed fits this team much more.
Most Underseeded: Richmond Spiders – 12
Richmond finished the season at 27-7 and 2-1 against the AP Top 25. Although they finished 13-3 in conference play, Richmond has been strong all season. They have their chance to prove what they are worth in a match-up against a Vanderbilt team that they should beat.
Upset Alert: Morehead State
Morehead could be a team to surprise a lot of people in this tournament. They are a 13 seed going against the 4 seed Louisville. But Morehead has played solid all season, and Louisville is undersized down low. Louisville has played fine against bigger teams all season, but they haven’t faced one of the best rebounders in the country. Kenneth Faired could lead Morehead State to a huge upset in the early round.
Surprise Team: Florida State
Florida State plays in a historically tough ACC conference, which was weak this season. But don’t count the Seminoles out on making a surprise run in the tournament. Their record might be a little misleading. They beat Duke once this season, and lost to North Carolina by two on a buzzer beater by Harrison Barnes.
Illinois could play former coaches in back to back games. They will take on Lon Kruger and UNLV first, and if they win and Kansas wins, they will play Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks.
(1) Kansas vs (16) Boston U
This will be a cake walk for the Kansas Jayhawks. A number 16 seed has never beat a number 1 seed in the tournament, and I don’t see it happening here. Kansas starts their run in the NCAA Tournament with a huge 20+ point win against Boston University.
(8) UNLV vs. (9) Illinois
This is one of those classic evenly matched games where either team can win. UNLV brings their 24-8 record into their first round match up against Illinois. The Runnin Rebels are just 1-6 against the AP Top 25 this season, but are the favorites in this one. Illinois started off the season ranked and proved their worth with a big win over UNC at home. They struggled the rest of the year finishing at 19-13. They had a 9-9 conference record in the Big Ten.
(5) Vanderbilt vs. (12) Richmond
Nothing about Vanderbilt really impresses me. Historically the 5-12 match up has brought a lot of 12 seeds wins. I think that’s the case here and I like Richmond to upset Vanderbilt.
(4) Louisville v (13) Morehead State
This could be one of the best games to come out of this region, and possibly the whole tournament. Morehead State is flying under the radar during the whole selection process. They have one of the best rebounders in the country in Kenneth Faired. That can be a huge advantage for them against a undersized Louisville team. Don’t count Louisville out though. They have a good enough team that can make a serious run at the Final Four. I’ll take Louisville in this game, but it’s an upset alert.
(6) Georgetown vs. (11) VCS
VCU proved the doubters wrong as they beat USC Wednesday night to move on in the tournament and play Georgetown. They now have another chance to show they really belong here. The task won’t be tough though, as Georgetown poises a serious threat to any team. The Hoyas will get guard Chris Wright back. But if he’s not 100% healthy, the Hoyas could run into trouble. I’ll take Georgetown, but in a close one.
(3) Purdue vs (14) St. Peters
Losing Robbie Hummel sounded like a major disaster for the Boilermakers at the start of this season. It still was, but Purdue managed to hang on and earn a 3 seed in the tournament. Their first round game is against St. Peters, who in my opinion poses no threat to Purdue. I like Purdue winning this one by double digits.
(7) Texas A&M vs (10) Florida State
Florida State could be one of the surprise teams this tournament. They play in a historically tough ACC conference that features powerhouse Duke and North Carolina. Florida State beat Duke earlier this season, and lost by two to the Tar Heels. Even as a 10 seed facing a 7 seed Texas A&M, I’ll give the Seminoles the advantage here and move them on to the second round
(2) Notre Dame vs (15) Akron
Led by Player of the Year candidate Ben Hansbrough, the Fighting Irish open up their tournament run against 15th seeded Akron. This should be no struggle for Notre Dame, as they will win by double digits.
——-Sweet 16 Projection——–
1. Kansas vs 4. Lousiville
2. Notre Dame vs 5. Georgetown
Don’t forget to enter your Brackets into the CCS March Madness Pool.
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