Thursday, March 18
At The Ford Center, Oklahoma City
Kansas State (26-7) vs. North Texas (24-8)
BYU (29-5) vs. Florida (21-12)
At HP Pavilion, San Jose, Calif.
Vanderbilt (24-8) vs. Murray State (30-4)
Butler (28-4) vs. UTEP (26-6)
Friday, March 19
At HSBC Arena, Buffalo, N.Y.
Syracuse (28-4) vs. Vermont (25-9)
Gonzaga (26-6) vs. Florida State (22-9)
At The Bradley Center, Milwaukee
Pittsburgh (24-8) vs. Oakland, Mich. (26-8)
Xavier (24-8) vs. Minnesota (21-13)
My pick to win it: Selecting a No. 1 is an easy choice, but I have been behind Syracuse the whole season and I am not leaving them now. The Orange had a few extra days to rest and now something to prove after not winning the Big East Tournament.
Dark horse: After losing in overtime during the Atlantic-10 Tournament, Xavier is in the background. However, the Musketeers will surprise and make the Elite 8 after defeating third-seed Pittsburgh and second-seed Kansas State (if those two teams win).
Obvious rout: This has to be Syracuse over Vermont. Right out of the gate the Orange will look to display dominance and show that losing in its conference tourney had no effect. Syracuse will win by 20 against undermatched Vermont.
Upset special: After losing two of its last three games Vanderbilt will face a hot Murray State team. The Racers went 30-4 on the season and have only lost once in 2010.
Looking forward to: Butler and UTEP will be interesting as 5-12 seed games always seem to provide upsets. The Bulldogs enter the game winning 20 straight, while the Miners will try to bounce back after losing in its conference title game.
Questionable seeding: Florida might have been given a gift with a 10 seed as it went 9-7 in the SEC, lost four of its last five games and lost in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament.
Players you’ll love to watch: Syracuse’s leader Andy Rautins is an all-around player and exciting to watch at the point. Also keep an eye on the offense of Xavier’s Jordan Crawford.