The field of 68 was announced yesterday evening for the 2013 NCAA tournament, and it’s time to begin breaking down the bracket to see what stands out.
Busting Brackets is your place for wall-to-wall coverage of March Madness, so let’s start things off with a look at the top five first round (yes, I know it’s technically “second round”) matchups, in no particular order.
Here are a few games that you are totally allowed to call in sick to work to watch:
MIDWEST REGION: (5) Oklahoma State vs. (12) Oregon
Plenty of discussion going on about Oregon being seeded as a 12. Personally, I thought it was too low. That hurts Oklahoma State because they have their hands full in this matchup. If the Oregon team that won the Pac-12 tournament shows up, this should be fun. They have to hope that momentum carries over because they played excellent basketball in Las Vegas this past weekend. But keep in mind that despite a bad early season loss to Virginia Tech, the Cowboys really haven’t had a bad loss (unless you count at Baylor, which I don’t think was that terrible). They’re a very good team and if they can get pasty this sneaky good Oregon team, they could make some noise given their outstanding guard play.
SOUTH REGION: (8) North Carolina vs. (9) Villanova
This is an interesting 8/9 game, as I think either team could give Kansas a run for their money in the next round. The Tar Heels are playing the better basketball of the two right now, but this is a Nova team that’s been able to beat Louisville, Georgetown, and Syracuse in the second half of the season. There aren’t many teams that can say that. If JayVaughn Pinkston brings it for the Wildcats, this should be filled with intrigue. Don’t sleep on Jay Wright’s club in this spot.
EAST REGION: (6) Butler vs. (11) Bucknell
Bucknell is an early hot pick as a potential sleeper. It’s not unwarranted either, as they have a 6’11” beast in Mike Muscala, and of their five losses this season, only one has been by more than three points. That’s pretty impressive. This team is a bounce or two away from being 32-1. Obviously, Butler has a weapon of their own in sharpshooter Rotnei Clarke, and priority number one for Bucknell will be to limit his shot opportunities. I’d expect this game to go right down to the wire.
WEST REGION: (5) Wisconsin vs. (12) Ole Miss
Marshall Henderson meets Bo Ryan. It doesn’t get much better than that. Given how well the Badgers play defense, it’s going to be interesting to see how they go about defending Henderson. The Rebels will have to find a way to be disciplined enough to stay patient on both ends of the floor, which will be the deciding factor in this one. They also have a tendency to fall behind early, and they absolutely cannot afford to that here. Henderson is a must-watch player, and if anyone can find a way to break through the Badger defense, it’s him.
WEST REGION: (6) Arizona vs. (11) Belmont
When Belmont makes the NCAA tournament, they are always mentioned as a potential giant killer. I like their matchup better this year than the one they had last year against Wisconsin. Arizona’s inconsistency worries me, and I’m not sure they fully understand just how well Belmont can shoot the ball. Ian Clark shoots a staggering 46% from three, and they’ve got players all over the roster that can light it up. Like most of the others on this list, it would surprise me if this game doesn’t come down to a final possession.
What are some of your must-see first round matchups?