Why 1 Seed North Carolina Advances:

The have probably the most experienced big game player in this tournament in Armando Bacot, and pack a wallop on offense. They’re also one of the best rebounding teams in the country which is huge in March Madness. I think DJ Wagner has a huge first 3 rounds in a way akin to what Jordan Hawkins did for UConn last year. He’s the timely shot guy that every team needs, and out of all 1 seeds UNC is the most underrated and undervalued in terms of odds. Despite the loss to NC State, UNC could find themselves in the final four for the second time in 3 years.

Why 1 Seed North Carolina Loses:

The one matchup that might bode difficult would be a round of 32 matchup with Michigan State. They play at a high pace and have maintained a positive net rating the entire year, Mind you that if they made the final four they’d end up playing (probably UConn) in Arizona. Also, this Arizona team is looking to avenge their 2-15 seed loss last season. Caleb Love has the revenge factor and has emerged as one of the better players in college basketball. This is a team that I believe will either run to the final four or lose in the first round, no in between. North Carolina is a deserving number one, but could run into trouble with teams such as Arizona or Baylor in the second weekend.

Top match Up

11 New Mexico vs. 6 Clemson, 3/22 6:10 PM ET

New Mexico finished their season on a 4-game win streak and won their conference, while picking up a few huge wins along the way. Overall, they’ve looked better than an 11 seed for most of the season, especially the last half, picking up big wins against Colorado State and San Diego State in route to the Mountain West title. Led by Jaelen House and NBA baby Jamal Mashburn Junior, they’ve got some high octane scoring and play a solid brand of basketball without a lot of flaws in their game. Keeping in mind that the last time (and only time since 1985) every 6 seed won in the first round, I see New Mexico as a serious contender for an upset. They’re on an NC State type on run right now and I think a lot of people are underestimating them simply because they drew a very good Clemson team in round one. Clemson is one of few teams to go into Raleigh and pick up a win against UNC. These are two top 45 BPI teams, and it should be a great game. My final prediction is New Mexico winning by 5 in a tight game.

Under the Radar Match up:

10 Nevada vs. 7 Dayton 3/21 4:30 PM ET

7 seed  Dayton is a good college basketball team and their best player, DaRon Holmes, is one of the top players in the country. Dayton had a good season but they have picked up zero top 25 wins and lost games to a lot of other teams in this tournament. Meanwhile, Nevada rolls into this game, criminally underseeded with a 3-1 record against top 25 teams this season. In my opinion, compounding Nevada’s play this season with Dayton’s loss to Duquesne in the A10 championship game and there’s a recipe for a surefire upset. However, to play devil’s advocate, March is where true stars shine the brightest and teams with one NBA caliber guy can often ride that player to a few wins. Regardless, Nevada looks formidable.

Final Four Sleeper:

Baylor Bears

The west is a loaded bracket. Just three years ago Baylor won the national championship, a year later UNC played in the national championship, and Arizona has been a top seed many times. Baylor hasn’t gotten enough due. Only 1.2% of ESPN TC brackets have picked the Bears to win it all and they’re the lowest picked team out of all 12 top-3 seeds. This is probably because this is Scott Drew’s least talented team in a few years, but Baylor’s playstyle is grinding. Baylor has the talent and coaching to get through to Phoenix, and a sleeper to keep an eye on.

Top 5 Prospects in the Region:

1. Ja'Kobe Walter Baylor

Walter is the region’s top long term prospect. Just a freshman, he led the Bears in scoring at 14.2 ppg with shooting spolies of 37.3 ppg, 81.5 ft, 34.0 from three. Walter lacks great size and strength, but is a smooth athlete with decent length and intriguing potential if he adds toughness.

2. PJ Hall, Clemson

Hall shoots 32% from deep, averages 18 points a game, a 7-foot-plus wingspan. There’s a lot of tools here and a lot to like. He could easily slot in on an NBA team and be an immediate impact for a team in need of spacing. Second round to the Spurs maybe?

3. Yves Missi, Baylor

Missi had an impressive season showing his great motor and ability to impact the game on both ends of the floor. While he lacks fluidity and may at best be a back up at the next level, there is some intrigue related to his high motor and ability to impact games in college. He’s still considered a likely second rounder, but in such a weak draft, perhaps a strong tournament performance could get him some first round consideration.

4.. DaRon Holmes, Dayton

Holmes is a solid shooter with shot-blocking ability, is springy around the rim. He’s a good rebounder and Dayton’s offense runs through him for a reason. While not the most fluid of athletes and one of the older prospects, he has touch that makes him intriguing for a post guy.

5. Jalen Bridges, Baylor

Bridges is a project but has a nice combination of size and length as a wing and showed some improvement as a shooter in his career. A senior, Bridges will have a chance to hear his name called on draft night with a big performance in the NCAA tourney.


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