The field of 68 is set. The NCAA Tournament begins in about 48 hours when The First Four tips off in Dayton.
Excited yet? You should be!
Let's get down to business here with some rapid reactions to the Big East's presence in the Big Dance.
Villanova gets their one-seed
After winning the Big East regular season and conference tournament in impressive fashion, the Villanova Wildcats were rewarded with a No. 1 seed in the East Region, meaning if they reach the Sweet 16, they'll be playing games up at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York. Certainly a venue that 'Cats fans -- and Big East fans alike -- know all too well. They'll be matched up with the No. 16 seeded Lafayette Leopards of the Patriot League who dismissed American in a 65-63 thriller last Wednesday.
The East Region provides for some intrigue. Assuming 'Nova takes care of business, a pretty talented LSU team or the North Carolina State Wolfpack await them in The Steel City. Assuming they do in fact venture to upstate New York, a familiar face might be waiting for them. The Louisville Cardinals are the No. 4 seed in the East Region, and a matchup between the Cards and 'Cats will certainly conjure up memories for Big East fans everywhere. There is of course the possibility that the 30-3 Northern Iowa Panthers and the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year Seth Tuttle could be in line to face 'Nova too. They're a supremely fun team to watch.
Don't sleep on Wyoming of the Mountain West, either.
The bottom half of the bracket sees the Virginia Cavaliers, Michigan State Spartans, Georgia Bulldogs and Belmont Bruins, as well as Oklahoma, Albany, Providence (who we'll get to later) and one of either Boise State or Dayton. Villanova-Virginia would be quite the epic encounter in the Carrier Dome if that were to be the Elite Eight. I'll hold off on my picks for now, though.
Butler nestled with Kentucky, and very fun Midwest Region
The 'Dawgs have pulled off many a upset in the past few years. They'll likely need a Herculean effort if they want to shock the world and make the Final Four again this year as they're in the Midwest Region with juggernaut, unbeaten Kentucky. The Bulldogs have to first get by a very, very talented Texas team. The good (?) news is that that Texas team struggled quite a bit this season, sputtering to a 20-13 record whilst being on the bubble for the latter portion of this season.
Should the 'Dawgs win, they may be in line to face either Northeastern or former Big East team and fellow Indiana resident, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. If you aren't familiar with Irish superstar Jerian Grant, now's the time to get educated. He's a fabulous player.
Name brands are all the rage here in the Midwest. Kentucky. Kansas. Indiana (I just know Butler fans would loooooove a matchup against the Hoosiers in the Sweet 16). Notre Dame. Texas. There's also Cincinnati, Purdue (Indiana getting a whole lot of representation here in this region) AND a dangerous, underseeded (in my opinion) Wichita State Shockers squad.
Kentucky will be the favorite in this region and the NCAA Tournament itself. But I love the possibilities of the Midwest.
Georgetown seeded high once again...
The last few times Georgetown has been highly seeded in the NCAA Tournament they have ... well, Ohio, Florida Gulf Coast, and several others know the end of this sentence. The Hoyas have a chance to eradicate the narrative against Eastern Washington. The problem is that the Eagles just so happen to have Tyler Harvey. Who is Tyler Harvey? Only the nation's leading scorer.
Don't be ashamed if you quiver a little bit, Hoya fans. We're there with you, and we're pulling for you. We ARE after all, a little bit biased. ;)
St. John's sandwiched with Duke
Congratulations, St. John's Red Storm! You're in the NCAA Tournament again. Your prize? A matchup with the feisty San Diego State Aztecs.
If you win that, guess what? Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, Quinn Cook and Coach K await you in the Round of 32!
Not the best of situations to fall into especially after the news that big man Chris Obekpa is suspended for two weeks.
Who will Providence and Xavier play? The world finds out in Dayton
Dayton, Ohio becomes the epicenter of the college basketball universe when The First Four tips off on Tuesday night. The Providence Friars and Xavier Musketeers will have a vested interest as they will find out their opponents for their Round of 64 matchups after it concludes. PC will face one of either the Boise State Broncos of the Mountain West, or the Dayton Flyers of the Atlantic 10 who get a legitimate home game out of this. Bizarre as that is true. Meanwhile, the Xavier Musketeers will face either the Ole Miss Rebels of the SEC, or the BYU Cougars of the West Coast Conference.
Xavier was in this position last season and fell to North Carolina State. We suspect that X is a little bit happier to be on the opposite side of the scope here.
What awaits the Big East in the NCAA Tournament? Time will tell. With that said, let the party, and madness, begin!