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Region-by-region NCAA Tournament bracket analysis

Courtesy of MCT

East Region

Ohio State has been slotted as the East Region’s No. 2 seed and opens its NCAA Tournament run against the No. 15-seed Loyola University (MD) Greyhounds Thursday in Pittsburgh at about 9:45 p.m.

The Buckeyes cemented their spot as a No. 2 seed after a run to the Big Ten Tournament Championship on Sunday, which they lost, 68-64, against Michigan State.

The Buckeyes aren’t the only Big Ten team in the East Region, and are joined by coach Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin, the East Region’s No. 4-seed. Ryan advances his squad to the NCAA Tournament for the 11th consecutive year and will meet No. 13-seed Montana in a second-round game.

The East Region is a formidable one, and features Syracuse as its No. 1 seed, the Southeastern Conference Champion Vanderbilt Commodores as the No. 5 seed and the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament champion Florida State as the No. 3 seed. An old sports adage states that the best teams make it to the postseason, but the hottest team wins the championship. Keep that in mind when filling out your East Region bracket.

Regional Champion: No. 5 Vanderbilt def. No. 3 Florida State 


South Region

With the No. 1 overall seed and heavy favorite in the NCAA tournament Kentucky sitting on the top line of the South Bracket, it is safe to say the road to the Final Four in the South is through John Calipari’s Wildcats.

With the South Bracket featuring three Final Four teams from last year’s tournament — Kentucky, Virginia Commonwealth and Connecticut — the South Bracket will be full of intriguing, early-round matchups.

UConn, the defending national champion, holds the No. 9 seed in the South, and a first-round win against Iowa State will most certainly mean a rematch of last year’s Final Four thriller where UConn defeated Kentucky by one point to get to the National Championship game.

Sitting on the bottom line of the South Bracket, and earning a No. 2 seed, are the Duke Blue Devils. Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils will look to take care of business against No. 15 Lehigh, and then play the winner of No. 7 Notre Dame and No. 10 Xavier.

Possibly sporting their flashy neon yellow uniforms, the No. 3 seed Baylor Bears will look to take care of business against No. 14 South Dakota State.

Regional Champion: No. 1 Kentucky def. No. 3 Baylor 


Midwest Region

If we learned anything Sunday, it’s that the selection committee has a sense of humor.

In what would normally be a relatively innocuous second-round Midwest Region matchup, No. 4-seed Michigan will take on “Ohio” — No. 13-seed Ohio University. The matchup drew plenty of attention on Twitter because Michigan football coach Brady Hoke, and, more recently, Wolverines basketball coach John Beilein, refers to Ohio State simply as “Ohio.”

The region will also host Kansas, who limps into the NCAA Tournament after losing to Baylor in the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament, likely relinquishing the tournament’s last No. 1 seed in the process.

North Carolina is the Midwest’s No. 1 seed and comes into the tournament after losing to a hot Florida State squad in the finals of the ACC Tournament Sunday. The Tarheels will square off against the winner of the play-in game between No. 16-seeds Lamar and Vermont in nearby Greensboro, N.C.

The Midwest isn’t particularly hard to pick — all signs point toward a showdown between UNC and Kansas.

Regional Champion: No. 2 Kansas def. No. 1 North Carolina


West Region

The team that ran through Ohio State to claim likely the last No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament will play its opening round matchup in Columbus.

Michigan State, which took down OSU in the Big Ten Tournament final Sunday, drew No. 16 seed LIU Brooklyn, and will play Friday at Nationwide Arena.

MSU might potentially draw No. 8-seed Memphis in a third-round matchup that could be a barnburner at Nationwide. The Tigers have won seven straight games coming into the tournament and is a perennially long and athletic squad that could present some issues for Sparty.

The West Region also hosts No. 6 seed Murray State, which, after Kentucky’s loss in the SEC Tournament final to Vanderbilt, will enter the tournament with the country’s best record at 30-1. The Racers open against No. 11-seed Colorado State.

The West isn’t the most stacked region this year, but it could lend to quite a few upsets. Don’t be too shocked if potential Cinderellas Memphis, Louisville, Murray State or Iona come out of the region if MSU and Missouri falter. I wouldn’t count on that for the former, however, as Sparty is an experienced tournament power.

Regional Champion: No. 1 Michigan State def. No. 6 Murray State 

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