Louisville leads a loaded Midwest Region
The Favorite: Louisville is the No. 1 overall seed, so the Cardinals have to be the favorite, right? Well, yes -- but whoever makes it to the Final Four from the Midwest will have made it through a very experienced gauntlet. The top three seeds in the Midwest are coached by Rick Pitino (Louisville), Mike Krzyzewski (Duke) and Tom Izzo (Michigan State), who have combined to win six NCAA titles. Still, Pitino's Cardinals are the team to beat. A midseason three-game losing streak is way back Louisville's rear-view mirror, and the Cardinals have won 10 straight, including a sweep of the last Big East Tournament, entering March Madness. Sure, Duke, with Ryan Kelly back in the lineup, is dangerous, but road to Atlanta runs threw the Cardinals.
But watch out for: Oklahoma State. All the focus will be on the fire power of the top three seeds, but the Pokes had a very impressive season and boast the fire power to beat any team on any day (just ask Kansas). There are few players as talented nationally as Cowboys freshman Marcus Smart. The sure-fire lottery pick leads Oklahoma State in scoring, assists and steals and is second in rebounding. What makes Oklahoma State scary is that if Smart is having an off day, Markel Brown and Le'Bryan Nash both possess the ability to take over a game.
Underrated: Oregon. Much has been made of Oregon getting shafted with a No. 12 seed -- and rightfully so. The Pac-12 Tournament champions probably should be in the eight-or-nine seed range. It is unfortunate for the Ducks, but also a bummer for Oklahoma State, their first round opponent. Oregon has proven all season it can play with anyone (the Ducks boast wins over UCLA (twice), Arizona and UNLV), so don't be surprised to see this double-digit seed make a run.
Overrated: Nobody. This is a very top-heavy region and everyone seems to be down-seeded. Some people will say Saint Louis is overrated, but take a look at their resume. Three wins over Butler, two over VCU, a win over New Mexico -- that resume stacks up with anybody in the country.
Where is the Regional? Indianapolis
See the South Regional preview here.
See the East Regional preview here.
See the West Regional preview here.