Best 1st Round Matchup: No. 7 Arkansas vs. No. 10 Butler
Arkansas plays an up-tempo pressing system under Mike Anderson and has shot 40.1 percent as a team beyond the arc. Meanwhile, shot-blocking freshman forward Daniel Gafford is a potential lottery pick. They’re a lot of fun, but seriously inconsistent.
Butler, even with new head coach LaVall Jordan, is Butler. The Bulldogs play tough, hard-nosed basketball. Kelan Martin (20.8 points, 6.2 rebounds per game) is the team’s star but, as always, Butler thrives on selfless, team-first basketball. That works in March.
Most Dangerous Double-Digit Seed: Butler
For all the reasons listed above, the Bulldogs are always dangerous. If they get past Arkansas, a matchup with in-state foe Purdue looms in the second round. Think they’ll be motivated for that one?
Future NBA Draft Picks: Mikal Bridges, Villanova; Collin Sexton, Alabama; Daniel Gafford, Arkansas; Aaron Holiday, UCLA; Landry Shamet, Wichita State; Zhaire Smith, Texas Tech; Jalen Brunson, Villanova; Jalen Hudson, Florida; Jevon Carter. West Virginia; Vince Edwards, Purdue; Kris Wilkes, UCLA.
Ken Pom Says: Villanova is Pomeroy’s No. 2 team overall, while Purdue (No. 5), Texas Tech (No. 12), West Virginia (No. 13), Wichita State (No. 20), Butler (No. 25) and Arkansas (No. 37) are all in the top 40.
Don’t Forget About me: Purdue.
At one point this season the Boilermakers looked like a sure-bet for a top seed. They won 19 in a row before stumbling a bit down the stretch. The Boilers have size and can shoot it, making them incredibly dangerous in a tournament setting.
Best Coach in the Region: Jay Wright, Villanova. He’s just far too accomplished to put anyone else here. His team has been one of the best in the country all season and he’s been here and won a national title before.
Head Says: Villanova
The Wildcats are deep, skilled, have a great coach and enough veterans to help fight through tense moments. They are set up for another deep run.
Heart Says: Wichita State
The Shockers were projected to be one of the top teams in the country before the season, but haven’t been able to put it all together yet. It would be great to see a veteran-heavy core that includes Conner Frankamp, Markis McDuffie, Shaquille Morris and Darral Willis breakthrough for a deep run.
Bracket Pick: Villanova
I can’t bet against Wright, Brunson and Bridges in this region.