NCAA Basketball Tournament Preview

It’s time once again for The Big Dance! The 2011 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament seriously kicks into gear today–don’t try and sell me on play-in games–and we’re giving you a preview of the round, replete with upsets and sleepers.

Best shot for an upset/sleeper: Half the games in the Southeast bracket
The Southeast strikes me as a bracket loaded with red flags and teams that constantly underachieve, making it ripe for upsets and the chance of a low-seeded team making a run. Three seed BYU is a possibility for an early exit. Yes, Jimmer Fredette is amazing. But the suspension of Brandon Davies has turned the Cougars into a one man-show. Fredette has scored 80 of BYU’s 130 points over the last two games. He can’t do it alone.

Four seed Wisconsin is another upset possibility. Bo Ryan’s teams almost always underachieve in the NCAA’s and their 33-point clunker against Penn State in the Big 10 tournament was almost tragically funny.
St. John’s is going to be without D.J. Kennedy, and has laid some eggs before: (Seton Hall, Fordham, St. Bonnaventure)
Most interesting subplot: Kyrie Irving’s toe
You may not like Duke, but if Irving had been healthy all year, the Blue Devils may have gone unbeaten. There’s no telling if Irving will play, or how good he’ll be if he does, but considering Duke went 22-4 without him and scored a #1 seed, they may become a clear favorite if he plays for the first time since December 4th.
Most interesting games in the opening round:
Vanderbilt against Richmond–Poor Vandy. They probably have the toughest 12-seed in the bracket. Richmond is light years better than their seed suggests and can shoot the lights out from three. As Cornell taught us last season, beware the under-seeded team replete with shooters.
St. John’s against Gonzaga–A team on the rise (St. John’s) vs. a team trying to get back to the glory days (Gonzaga).
Connecticut against Bucknell– Not because I think UConn will lose, but because it will be interesting to see how much gas the Huskies have in the tank after winning an always tough Big East Tournament