Before the World Cup, analysts always denote a “Group of Death.” We thought it would be fun to inspect the NCAA Tournament and figure out which March Madness region is the toughest, or better yet, is the “Region of Death.” Here’s a look at the four regions – East, West, South and Midwest – and a quick analysis of their toughest teams.
National consensus seems to have Michigan State, a 4 seed, coming out of this bracket. Virginia was awarded the No. 1 slot due to winning the ACC regular season and tournament titles. Villanova was projected as a 1 seed entering Sunday, and probably would have been had UVA not beaten Duke. UNC is a strong 6 seed that plays up to its opponents, but loses to perceived inferior teams. Harvard is an intriguing team, having made its third-consecutive tournament. Shabazz Napier and UConn have bursts of greatness – they’re the last team to defeat Florida.
Possibly the toughest Nos. 1 and 2 of any region. Florida is the tournament’s overall top seed, and Kansas is battle-tested, having played arguably the nation’s toughest schedule. Syracuse is a soft 3 seed. UCLA is peaking at the right time, having beaten three consecutive tourney teams in the Pac-12 Tournament. Tourney darlings Shaka Smart and VCU are also in this bracket.
This one is a bear. Wichita State, Louisville and Michigan were all in the 2013 Final Four. Kentucky was preseason No. 1, and is starting to play it’s best ball (and is an 8 seed). If that’s not enough, toss in Duke and you have one hell of a party. This one has some fun matchups, too. New Texas AD Steve Patterson goes against his former school ASU. Stephen Masiello, who played under Rick Pitino at Kentucky and worked under him at Louisville, faces his mentor in the first round. Iowa-Tennessee also has the potential to be one of the better “First Four” games since the tournament expanded.
Arizona has played solid ball all year and flies in as a quiet 1 seed with some injury concerns. Bo Ryan teams always play tough defense, but this year’s Wisconsin squad can actually score. Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart are two players that have the ability to carry their team for a few rounds. San Diego State isn’t a wide-eyed 4 seed. They’ve made it to the tournament’s second week two of the past three seasons, and Steve Fisher is a big-game coach (before his SDSU stint, Fisher led Michigan’s heralded Fab 5 teams).
So here we are. Each region has it’s strengths and weaknesses. Some are top-heavy, others more balanced. Which do you think is the “Region of Death?”