The Bracket: First Glance Analysis

We have our 68.

The bracket, painfully revealed by CBS (or faster through Twitter), is official and we're ready to start the greatest week in college sports.

As usual, Selection Sunday brought a lot of drama and debate to the party. Having taken my immediate glance at this year's bracket, here's my first thoughts into this year's March Madness.

BIGGEST WINNERS

Des Moines, for getting Kansas, Indiana, Kentucky and all of their fans.

Oklahoma City, who gets the nearby Sooners and the two biggest schools in Texas.

Tulsa, who somehow got in as an at-large to the surprise of just about everyone.

Dayton, which will finally get a fantastic play-in game with Vanderbilt vs. Wichita State.

BIGGEST LOSERS

CBS, for that painfully-long selection show. That was brutal. Next year, do the whole bracket first, then do commentary. Please.

Monmouth, who should be in the tournament. The Hawks beat USC and Notre Dame, won their regular season and embody what March
Madness should be about. It's a complete shame to not see them try on a glass slipper.

St. Bonaventure, who shared the A-10 regular season title, had a RPI in the 20s and still didn't make the tournament. No excuses, committee. None. Not when you slotted in Tulsa, as well as Oregon State and Syracuse. No offense to the previously mentioned schools, who play in fierce conferences but if you don't finish in the top half of your league, you shouldn't get a spot in the Big Dance. Simple as that.

SOUTH REGION

Top Seed: Kansas, who won the toughest league in college basketball this season.

Contenders: Villanova hasn't had much luck in recent tournaments, but the Wildcats have enough talent this year to make a serious run. Miami is a very dangerous three seed with a coach that's tailor made for March in Jim Larranaga. Maryland could really give teams some trouble; they were near the top of the polls for most of the year and could make things interesting if they make it to the Sweet 16.

Upset Watch: South Dakota State is a good shooting team that could give Maryland a lot of trouble (why I said IF Maryland could make it to the Sweet 16).

Prediction: The Jayhawks aren't as talented as previous Kansas teams before, but their cohesiveness and confidence stands out. Bill Self has done a phenomenal job coaching this year and I don't see KU falling early. Kansas advances.

WEST REGION

Top Seed: Oregon, who became the giants of the Pacific by winning the Pac-12.

Contenders: As long as Buddy Hield is loose, Oklahoma is a threat. Texas A&M is a well disciplined bunch that could cause some havoc. Baylor, with a lot of quality depth, is a team that neither Duke nor Oregon would want to see.

Upset Watch: Northern Iowa beat North Carolina earlier this year and could catch Texas looking ahead to a possible showdown with A&M. Don't sleep on Valley teams.

Prediction: Oregon will survive the Baylor test, but run out of gas trying to take down Buddy Hield and company in the Elite Eight. Oklahoma advances.

EAST REGION

Top Seed: The ACC champions, North Carolina, who have flown a little bit under the radar this season, but remain a threat to win it all.

Contenders: I really like how fearless this Xavier team is; it's easily the best team Chris Mack has had in his tenure there. West Virginia's press could drive other teams crazy. The Mountaineers are a lot of fun to watch. Oh, and there's the traditional blue bloods in Indiana and Kentucky. This region is sort of, kind of, loaded.

Upset Watch: I tend to go more chalk in this region, with the exception of Providence. However, Stephen F. Austin is very dangerous as they flat out know how to win. For several years, the Lumberjacks have owned their conference and gone on insane, 20-plus game winning streaks. West Virginia should be cautious.

Prediction: North Carolina will go through a gauntlet of good teams and will advance, likely over Xavier in one of the best games we'll see all season.

MIDWEST REGION

Top Seed: Virginia, who again stood out among the ACC's elite.

Contenders: Michigan State is really peaking right now; I wouldn't want any part of the Spartans. Iowa State could be a lot of fun to watch if Niang is dominant and Purdue is good enough to take another crack at Michigan State. The Boilers, save their odd rush to the hoop instead of holding for the last shot, are usually a pretty disciplined bunch.

Upset Watch: 29-4 Little Rock fears no one. The Trojans are a composed bunch and if they hang with Purdue long enough, could pull off the 5-12 upset. If there's anyone that can stop the Spartan Express, it's Dayton. The Flyers were able to do what Michigan State could not: beat Iowa. Scoochie Smith is the kind of guard that teams hate to see in March.

Prediction: Michigan State is on a mission. As good as Virginia is, or Purdue, the Spartans will advance.

FINAL FOUR PREDICTIONS

This will likely change over the next few days, but for now...

Kansas over Oklahoma
Michigan State over North Carolina
Kansas over Michigan State

This is the best week of the year for college athletics. Sit back and enjoy the madness!

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