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2016 NCAA Tournament: Bracket Breakdown

South Region

Fred VanVleet

Fred VanVleet

The One Seed: Kansas Jayhawks

There was little debate whether the Jay Hawks were the No. 1 team in the country after earning nine victories over top 25 teams and 15 wins over top 50 teams. The Jayhawks won both the regular season and tournament championships in the Big 12 to continue their dynasty, but don’t think they are a run away for a championship. Kansas is great this year, but recognize that this year is a strange year in college basketball without any true elite teams. Kansas has a ton of talent with the very, very experience Perry Ellis leading the way and a great defense.

The Best Player: Melo Trimble (Maryland)

Maryland was wildly inconsistent down the stretch of their season but this is a team that has legitimate National Championship aspirations earlier this season and still have all of the same pieces that made us think that, including their epically talented point guard. Melo Trimble battled a hamstring injury in February, but seems fine now and is the type of player who can put the Terps on his back and make a deep run.

The Dark Horse: Wichita State Shockers (11-seed)

The Shockers have two tough opponents just to get into the round of 32, but who is willing to pick against Gregg Marshall, Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet? The Shockers suffered some losses early in the season but that was without VanVleet. They’ve been incredible since he returned and this is a seasoned team with a great coach and two very talented guards who know how to win in the NCAA Tournament.

Most Intriguing Round of 32 matchup: #2 Villanova vs. #10 Temple

Two classic Philadelphia Big 5 rivals could play each other in the second round and we all know that in these type of rivalry games anything can happen no matter the seedings are. Villanova really has to start having some success in the NCAA Tournament, but Temple is a very dangerous team that could spoil it for them.

Non-Chalk Final Four Favorite: #3 Miami Hurricanes

Jim Larranaga is a great coach that has the Hurricanes doing some great things. They are a very efficient offense that slows the game down and that is always a dangerous combination in the NCAA Tournament. They’ve proven this year that they can beat great teams, beating seven top 50 teams.

West Region

Buddy Hield

Buddy Hield

The One Seed: Oregon Ducks

The Ducks got love from the selection committee for winning a Pac-12 committee that they gave a lot of love to. Oregon won 12 games against top 50 teams, five games against top 25 teams and has the second toughest schedule in the country. They have won eight-straight games, have a great ability to hit three’s and some tremendous talent.

The Best Player: Buddy Hield (Oklahoma)

Oklahoma has a lot of offensive weapons, but none are better than Buddy Hield. This year he has averaged 25 points per game, shoots 49.6-percent from the field, leads the Sooners in free throws and leads them in 3-pointers, making 3.9 per game. Hield is a rare late bloomer who saw tremendous growth from his junior to senior year and now seems like a lock to be a lottery pick in the NBA draft as well.

The Dark Horse: Northern Iowa (11-seed)

The Missouri Valley Conference champions are a dangerous team and why should be be surprised? Northern Iowa is always a dangerous team. It doesn’t matter who they lose, they always have incredible talent on their team. Wes Washpun is a dynamic point guard, but also great at finding the open man. They control tempo and their 62.9 possessions per game as among the nation’s fewest, and allow only 62.9 points per game. If they play teams that rely on outside shots (like Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma) they can cause problems.

Most Intriguing Round of 32 matchup: #3 Texas A&M vs. #6 Texas

Two former Big 12 rivals that hate each other, yes please! Remember when Texas A&M left the Big 12? It was because of Texas and their influence over the rest of the conference. While the Aggies and the Longhorns did play each other this year, it was in a tournament, not a scheduled tournament. This is a money matchup. What makes it even more interesting is that we also have the potential to see the winner of that game play Oklahoma in the Sweet 16; another juicy matchup.

Non-Chalk Final Four Favorite: #2 Oklahoma Sooners

Lon Kruger is a great coach, Buddy Hield is a great player and the Sooners are a pretty great team. They one worry is that they rely a bit too much on the outside shot so if they get cold then they could struggle, but this is a squad that has a tremendous offense, a player who can put his team on his back when the game is close and they have experience from last year’s Sweet 16 run.

East Region

Yogi Ferrell

Yogi Ferrell

The One Seed: North Carolina Tar Heels

Absolutely you could see the Tar Heels making a run and winning the National Championship, but they could also fall earlier than expected if they struggle to make shots, which a bit too often they do. But when fully healthy the Tar Heels are a very deep team with a great defense and a legitimate go-to player in Marcus Paige.

The Best Player: Kris Dunn (Providence)

This was a toss up between Kris Dunn and Yogi Ferrell, but Dunn just edged him. Dunn is going to be a very high NBA draft pick because of his ability as a natural scorer, a reliable passer, his physical ability and defensive ability too. Dunn can be a guy who can get Providence a win if the rest of the team doesn’t play all that well.

The Dark Horse: Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (14-seed)

West Virginia is a very tough matchup, but the Lumberjacks are in their fourth-straight NCAA Tournament and did win a game two years ago. This is not a new place for the small school. They are a veteran group with a lot of returning talent and a tremendous player in Thomas Walkup, who can contribute in pretty much every area of the game.

Most Intriguing Round of 32 matchup: #4 Kentucky vs. #5 Indiana

Two teams that are about as blue-blood as you get in college basketball. They don’t play anymore, but the selection committee made did college basketball fans a favor with this seeding. The SEC Champions vs. the Big Ten regular season champions…it’s two great teams capable of making runs to the Elite 8, but only one can have a spot in the Sweet 16.

Non-Chalk Final Four Favorite: #4 Kentucky Wildcats

Tyler Ulis was another guy who could have been picked to be the best player in the region. The Wildcats have a lot of talent with veterans Alex Poythress and Marcus Lee also helping out. The Wildcats do not have the interior dominance they usually have, but they can hit shots and any team coached by John Calipari can go on a big run at any time in the NCAA Tournament.

Midwest Region

Denzel Valentine

Denzel Valentine

The One Seed: Virginia Cavaliers

Yes, you can certainly argue that Virginia should be the No. 2 seed while Michigan State should be the No. 1 seed and it is hard to argue that point, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Cavaliers are one heck of a team. They went 26-7 this year against the nation’s toughest schedule and have eight victories against top 25 teams. Tony Bennett’s defense is just remarkable and against the hardest schedule in the country his team allowed only 59.6 points per game. But while their offense won’t light it up, the Cavaliers definitely have a star in Malcolm Brogdon, who is averaging 18.7 points per game and is making 40.9-percent of his 3-point attempts.

The Best Player: Denzel Valentine (Michigan State)

The Spartans have the best player in the country. This year, Denzel Valentine has averaged 19.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game while shooting 46.4-percent from the floor and 44.7-percent from 3-point range. The guy can impact the game in so many ways, including defense as well. Against Maryland in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament, he made only one field goal in the first half but dominated the game with nine assists in the first 20 minutes.

The Dark Horse: Gonzaga Bulldogs (11-seed)

Gonzaga is not the team they were last year and really miss their big man Przemek Karnowski, who suffered a season-ending injury early in the year. But while the Bulldogs’ seeding shows that had they not won the WCC tournament they wouldn’t even be in the tournament, they are a dangerous team. Kyle Wiltjer is an elite talent, averaging 20.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while Domantas Sabonis (17.4 ppg, 11.6 rpg) has done a great job for them inside. It took the Bulldogs time to adjust after losing Karnowski, but they are 12-2 in their last four games and have proven they have a very good offense.

Most Intriguing Round of 32 matchup: #4 Iowa State vs. #5 Purdue

Georges Niang is an impressive 6-foot-8 stretch forward who can make just about any shot he wants from anywhere on the floor. And he is joined by one of the best point guard in the country in Monte Morris. But while the Cyclones can score a ton of points, it will be interesting to see how their team that primarily lives on the outside, handles a Purdue team with a dominant front court that features A.J. Hammons, Vince Edwards and Caleb Swanigan.

Non-Chalk Final Four Favorite: #2 Michigan State Spartans

This is a pretty easy pick because Michigan State should be a No. 1 seed. They are an elite team with a tremendous coach, the best player in the country and legitimate National Championship hopes. The Spartans have a fairly easy road to the Elite 8 and then should have the ability to prove they should have been a No. 1 seed by making a trip to the Final Four.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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