Now that we’ve gotten over the initial discussions of who is in, who is out, and who should have been in or out, we move on to look at the matchups (and possible matchups) that this tournament has to offer in the early rounds.
Here are five of the best hypotheticals:
Midwest Region Round of 32: No. 8 Creighton vs. No. 1 North Carolina
This could be an interesting mid-major/high-major matchup in the Round of 32, if for no other reason than the matchup we could see between Creighton’s Doug McDermott and North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes.
If we do see this, expect it to be a shootout. Both teams average over 80 points per game. One big point of concern for North Carolina: Creighton can shoot the lights out. In two losses to Florida State this year, perimeter defense was a problem.
South Region Sweet Sixteen: No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 4 Indiana
It would be “The Rematch.” Christian Watford’s buzzer-beater was the only thing standing between Kentucky and a perfect season, before a loss Sunday against Vanderbilt.
Indiana is stuck among some tough mid-majors in their first two games, which may make it difficult for the rematch to happen. Wichita State, Virginia Commonwealth, and New Mexico State could all give high-major teams a run for their money.
Kentucky would have to go through Iowa State or Connecticut, two teams that aren’t pushovers, either.
West Region Round of 32: No. 8 Memphis vs. No. 1 Michigan State
Memphis would need to get through St. Louis to get to the Round of 32, but if they do, they could be a dangerous team.
Rob Dauster said they were “flying under the radar at the right time” and have used their athleticism and an all-conference effort from Will Barton to put them where they are now.
It would also make for a good old school/new school coaching matchup with Josh Pastner and Tom Izzo.
West Region Round of 64 Matchup: No. 3 Marquette vs. No. 14 Iona
If you’re looking for offense, this is your matchup. Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder for the Golden Eagles square off against Scott Machado, Momo Jones, and Mike Glover for Iona.
The Gaels need to make it through BYU in the First Four game, but if they can get a shot at Marquette, it will make for a high-scoring affair.
Were the Gaels to upset the Golden Eagles, few would be questioning their inclusion in the tournament, just as many did with Virginia Commonwealth last year.
Round of 32 East Region: No. 6 Cincinnati vs. No. 3 Florida State
Cincinnati used three-point shooting to pull an upset over Syracuse in the Big East tournament, and they could get a dose of their own medicine against Florida State.
These are two teams who analysts see as hitting their stride at the right time. Yancy Gates is playing like a stud of late and Florida State has size to matchup with the Bearcats. If this game happens, the winner could get a shot at No. 2 Ohio State.