Miami Hurricanes Basketball: 2016 NCAA Tournament Bracket Thoughts

Mar 16, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; A large banner displaying the NCAA Mens Basketball Championship bracket is on the front of the J.W. Marriott hotel in downtown Indianapolis. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 16, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; A large banner displaying the NCAA Mens Basketball Championship bracket is on the front of the J.W. Marriott hotel in downtown Indianapolis. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

After five months of waiting, March Madness has officially begun.

The field of 68 for the NCAA Tournament was announced Sunday night on CBS and as usual there were plenty of surprises and many questions left to be answered. With the First Four just two days away, there is plenty to evaluate before you fill your brackets out, but here are just a few thoughts I had when looking at the bracket.

The 2016 NCAA Tournament Bracket:

South Region

The South is by far the most difficult region.

Besides just having the No. 1 overall seed in Kansas, the South Region contains six or seven other teams that I could potentially see getting to Houston. No. 9 UConn always plays its best basketball in March and if No. 11 Wichita St. can get through their First Four matchup with No. 11 Vanderbilt, they are another team that has had a lot of recent postseason success.

You have No. 4 Cal and No. 5 Maryland who are both full of talent, but have underachieved this season. When you talk about the unpredictability of the tournament this year, those two teams encompass it perfectly. Both teams could get knocked out in the first round, but at the same time also have a chance at getting to the Final Four.

No. 2 Villanova, No. 3 Miami and No. 6 Arizona, who are all flying a bit under the radar, could be battling it out for a spot in the Elite Eight and shock everyone by beating Kansas to get to Houston.

We could see four double-digit seeds win their first round games in this region.

As we talked about the inconsistency with No. 4 Cal and No. 5 Maryland, I could foresee four upsets by double-digit seeds in this region. Cal taking on No. 13 Hawai’i and Maryland taking on No. 12 South Dakota St. could be two upsets back-to-back meaning at least one double-digit seed would make it to the Sweet 16.

On the bottom half of the bracket, No. 11 Wichita St. could be very dangerous as we discussed and watch out for No. 10 Temple if they can get past No. 7 Iowa. A Round of 32 Philadelphia showdown could be in-store with Villanova and I don’t think Jay Wright and the Wildcats would too excited at the prospect of that.

Favorite: No. 1 Kansas

Dark Horse: No. 5 Maryland

Round of 64 Upset Alert: No. 5 Maryland vs. No. 12 South Dakota St.

Quick note on Miami’s draw: This is the hardest region for sure, but I think Miami’s draw isn’t too bad. They should cruise by No. 14 Buffalo on Thursday and while the Round of 32 game could be a tough one, they certainly have beaten teams better than No. 6 Arizona or No. 11 Wichita State or Vanderbilt this season. They then could get No. 2 Villanova in the Sweet 16, but the Wildcats have had their fair share of upsets the last few years. Even if Miami does face Villanova, I think the Hurricanes would rather face them than Oklahoma or Michigan State who both also got No. 2 seeds.

I’ll have more on the Hurricanes, their matchup and how I think they will do in the coming days.

West Region

The West could be all chalk in the Round of 64.

This doesn’t happen often, but when looking at the West, it is hard to see too many first round upsets. On the top half of the bracket, No. 8 St. Joe’s is playing tremendous basketball at the moment and No. 5 Baylor is just going to be too athletic for No. 12 Yale. No. 4 Duke vs. No. 13 UNC-Wilmington could be an interesting one, but I don’t know how the Seahawks will be able to stop both Brandon Ingram and Grayson Allen.

On the bottom half of the bracket, there is a more likely chance at a few upsets with No. 6 Texas vs. No. 11 Northern Iowa and No. 7 Oregon State vs. No. 10 VCU. The Longhorns haven’t played well of late and we saw Northern Iowa beat an ultra-talented and athletic North Carolina team earlier this year. In the 7-10 game, VCU’s “Havoc” could cause too much chaos for the Beavers to handle in a short time to prepare.

While many people will pick Oklahoma, don’t overlook Oregon.

Living on the East Coast, we never really get to see Oregon, but trust me, they are really, really good.

The Ducks not only won the Pac-12 Regular Season title, but they won the Pac-12 Tournament as well and they did it in a very convincing fashion. They finished with the No. 2 RPI and the No. 3 strength of schedule and will be a force to be reckoned with out West. In saying that, a lot of people will still see Oklahoma as the favorite.

We’ve seen and heard all about Buddy Hield this year and while the Sooners haven’t played as well down the stretch, having the best player in the country can take you far come March.

I’m not saying Oregon will win the West Region or even advance to the Elite Eight, but just make sure you don’t totally count out the Ducks.

Favorite: No. 2 Oklahoma

Dark Horse: No. 5 Baylor

Round of 64 Upset Alert: No. 6 Texas vs. No. 11 Northern Iowa

East Region

This region is North Carolina’s to lose.

There are a few dangerous teams in the East Region, but the way No. 1 North Carolina is playing right now, I don’t know if that matters.

The Tar Heels will be the consensus favorite in the East, but could have a tough Sweet 16 matchup with No. 4 Kentucky and a possible Elite Eight showdown with No. 3 West Virginia. If Roy Williams’s squad plays up to its potential though, they will cruise into the Final Four.

No one expected Michigan to make it, now can they put a run together?

There always seems to be one team that makes it into the First Four that no one expected to make it and then they go on a long run. It was VCU in 2011, La Salle in 2013 and Tennessee in 2014, could this year’s team be No. 11 Michigan?

The Wolverines snuck into the NCAA Tournament and will face No. 11 Tulsa in the second First Four matchup on Wednesday. You wouldn’t guess that a Michigan team without Caris Levert could make a run, but sometimes when teams just get in and receive a second chance, that boosts them to a Cinderella run.

Favorite: No. 1 North Carolina

Dark Horse: No. 4 Kentucky

Round of 64 Upset Alert: No. 5 Indiana vs. No. 12 Chattanooga

Midwest Region

Once again, Tony Bennett and Virginia couldn’t avoid Michigan State.

The last two years, Virginia has been a No. 1 and a No. 2 seed, but both times despite being the favorite, Tom Izzo and the Spartans have upset them early on.

Somehow Michigan State didn’t get a one seed even after winning the Big Ten Tournament and Virginia had to pay the price. The region won’t likely be too hard for the Cavaliers to navigate, but Izzo’s teams are always so difficult to beat in March and I think if Virginia makes it to the Elite Eight they’ll have the Spartans there waiting for them.

Could this be the region we get a Cinderella?

This Midwest Region could be the weakest outside of No. 1 Virginia and No. 2 Michigan State, meaning we could see a Cinderella advance in this part of the bracket. No. 9 Butler has had their share of miracle runs before, but watch out for  No. 12 Arkansas Little-Rock and No. 13 Iona too.

The other wildcard in this region is No. 6 Seton Hall. The Pirates are one of the hottest teams in the country after beating Xavier and Villanova to win the Big East Tournament. If they can get by No. 11 Gonzaga in the first round, Seton Hall could leave a big impression on the Midwest region.

Favorite: No. 2 Michigan State

Dark Horse: No. 6 Seton Hall

Round of 64 Upset Alert: No. 4 Iowa State vs. No. 13 Iona

With the NCAA Tournament, especially this year, there is so much unpredictability. There are so many teams in this year’s field that could get bounced on the first weekend or get all the way to the Final Four, but that is what makes it so fun. No matter how far the Miami Hurricanes go, this should be an exhilarating next three weeks.