My Picks:11. Kansas State over 11. Wake Forest
1. North Carolina over 16. Texas Southern
9. Seton Hall over 8. Arkansas
12. Middle Tennessee over 5. Minnesota
4. Butler over 13. Winthrop
6. Cincinnati over 11. Kansas State
3. UCLA over 14. Kent state
10. Wichita State over 7. Dayton
2. Kentucky over 15. Northern Kentucky
1. North Carolina over 9. Seton Hall
4. Butler over 12. Middle Tennessee
6. Cincinnati over 3. UCLA
2. Kentucky over 10. Wichita State
1. North Carolina over 4. Butler
2. Kentucky over 6. Cincinnati
1. North Carolina over 2. Kentucky
North Carolina was handed a gift draw: This seems to happen every year, but the overall #1 seed earns the Region of Death while the least deserving 1 seed earns the Region of Life. Obviously Kentucky is a tough potential Elite 8 match-up, but North Carolina has as easy of a path to the Elite 8 as any team could ask for. The media will tell you that the South is the toughest region because it has three huge #brand names as 1-3 seeds, but that's not the proper way to judge a region.
How do you deal with Wichita State?: I honestly don't know the answer to this one. Wichita State is obviously a ridiculously strong 10 seed, as they are 8th in Pomeroy, but the fact is that part of that is due to dominating athletically inferior opponents. They were 0-4 against Pomeroy Tier A opponents, and only one of the four games was particularly close. This Kentucky team is as good as any in the country, and so they have to be favored in that second round game. The real shame here is that the Selection Committee forced those two teams to play so early.
It's not just North Carolina with a soft draw: Butler got an easy draw, too. Winthrop is a much softer opponent than Middle Tennessee, and even if Minnesota gets through they were probably the weakest 5 seed in any region even before the Akeem Springs injury. Butler will probably run into a brick wall when they play North Carolina, but I would feel pretty good taking them to the Sweet 16.
Stay away from UCLA: One of my annual recommendations is to stay away from teams depending on outside shooting and which are weak defensively. Teams like that look great when the shots are going in, but it just takes one day of cold shooting for it all to go up in smoke in a one-and-done tournament. For all the hype, UCLA is just 18th in the Pomeroy ratings. The only two defenses they've seen all season long as strong as Cincinnati have been Kentucky and Michigan, and UCLA happened to shoot the lights out in both of those games (53% total on three-pointers). Cincinnati has a strong perimeter defense and will test UCLA in the paint.