The Top Seed is Flawed: Two big knocks on Indiana this year – they tend to drift away from Cody Zeller, who is their best offensive interior player; and they’re not physical enough. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, their 2nd round opponent (NC State or Temple) will be rugged. Zeller will have trouble with NCSU’s physical Richard Howell. And UNLV, should it get by Cal and Syracuse, is also a physical team. I also have my concerns about Tom Crean playing too many guys instead of a tight rotation, but that probably won’t be an issue until the Sweet 16/Elite 8.
Future NBA Players: Cody Zeller will be a late-lottery pick in June. I think Victor Oladipo has played his way into the Top 10, and I wouldn’t rule out the Top 5. Anthony Bennett of UNLV, who some have compared to Larry Johnson, appears to be a Top 5 lock in the draft. Earlier this season, I thought Michael Carter-Williams of Syracuse could have made a run at the No. 1 pick. That won’t happen, but he’s probably a Top 10 pick.
Sick Shooters Bracket: Jordan Hulls of Indiana shoots 46.4 percent from deep. James Southerland of Syracuse could be the best shooter in the country. Scott Wood of NC State is a 3-point assassin, who set a school record. Rotnei Clarke might have the best range and quick trigger of any shooter in college basketball (41.2 percent).
GIF that represents the region: Victor. Oladpio. How can a miss represent the region? It’s spectacular, close, and probably what will happen to Indiana in the tourney.
Best arrest of the bracket: Khalif Wyatt, Temple’s leading scorer, was arrested last June in Atlantic City for solicitation of a prostitute.
Upset special: Davidson (14) over Marquette (3). Which Golden Eagles team shows? The one that won at Wisconsin, or lost at Green Bay 11 days later? Last quality win away from home? At Pittsburgh January 12th. Jay Bilas picked Marquette to get to the Elite 8. The Wildcats haven’t lost since Jan. 14th.
Regular season rematch: UNLV (5) vs. Cal (12). Back in December, UNLV went into Berkeley and won, 76-75 on a last-second tip-in. UNLV’s best player at the time, Mike Moser, suffered a dislocated elbow early. Freshman Anthony Bennett had a breakout game – 25 points, 13 rebounds. The Rebels collected 13 offensive rebounds. Cal missed 13 of 28 foul shots.
Regional season rematch that could happen: Remember in Maui when Butler and Marquette played a tremendous game and Rotnei Clarke hit this miracle shot at the buzzer to give the Bulldogs a win? They could meet again in the 2nd round.
Clutch: Brandon Paul of Illinois. I’m not sure what to make of Colorado, which has lost three of five and was swept this season by Arizona State, and suffered losses to Utah and Wyoming, as well.
What about Brad?: Butler missed the NCAA tournament last year, but went to the title game in 2010 and 2011. This year, the Bulldogs aren’t as sound defensively (53rd in Ken Pom), went 0-3 against defensive-minded Saint Louis, aren’t very good at point guard, and are opening as just a 3.5-point favorite against Bucknell from the Patriot League. Do the Bulldogs have a shot at making a run?
Nate Silver says …: Indiana.
GIF No. 2 because people love GIFs: Ah, Cody Zeller. The Villain of the Big Ten! People hate that guy!