East won’t be easy for Kentucky

Goodman’s breakdowns: Midwest | West | South


Overview:
Kentucky earned the top seed in the East, but won’t have an easy road with a second-round matchup against either Texas or Wake Forest and potentially going up against a big-time coach such as Temple’s Fran Dunphy or Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan in the Sweet 16.

The Wildcats won’t blow through this tournament. Not with three freshmen starting, but having a veteran such as Patrick Patterson should help the young guys.

Kentucky may have to play a West Virginia team that you could argue deserved the final No. 1 seed to get to the Final Four. To me, it’s a favorable matchup for a Wildcats team that could overwhelm Bob Huggins & Co. with its athletic guards.

New Mexico is still somewhat of an enigma coming out of the Mountain West and the Lobos are a wild card at the No. 3 in the region, while No. 4 seed Wisconsin still has to show it can win away from the Kohl Center.

Best first-round matchup: No. 8 Texas vs. No. 9 Wake Forest – The Longhorns were once the No. 1 team in the land before a free-fall and the Demon Deacons feature a star in Al-Farouq Aminu and plenty of talent.

Best potential matchup: No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 8 Texas – There may not be a better second-round matchup in the tournament. Even though the Longhorns have been terrible of late, it’ll still be intriguing with all the big bodies and athletic guards the two teams can throw out on the court.

Upset special:
No. 11 Washington over No. 6 Marquette – Plenty of quality guards on the court. The Huskies have finally found themselves and have far more talent than Marquette.

Cinderella? No. 12 Cornell – The Big Red have a difficult matchup against No. 5 Temple, but Steve Donahue’s team is certainly capable of pulling the upset and then also beating the winner of Wisconsin/Wofford to get to the Sweet 16.

My pick: Kentucky – The Wildcats have more talent than anyone else in the country and while they will be tested, they also have learned how to win close games. It’s called just give the ball to John Wall.

Top storylines:

  • Can the Texas Longhorns regain the magic and find the formula that had them ranked No. 1 in the nation a couple months ago?
     
  • The Kentucky Wildcats start three freshmen. How will they react to their first NCAA tournament?
     
  • Watch the play of West Virginia’s point guards – Joe Mazzulla and Truck Bryant. They will be the key to the Mountaineers’ success … or lack thereof.
     
  • Steve Alford was basically run out of Iowa and now he’s thriving at New Mexico. Can the Lobos’ underrated star, Darington Hobson, shine on the big stage and make people finally take notice after a year of going under the radar?

Top players to watch:

John Wall, 6-4, 193, PG, Fr., Kentucky

DeMarcus Cousins, 6-11, 260, C, Fr., Kentucky

Da’Sean Butler, 6-7, 230, F, Sr., West Virginia

Damion James, 6-7, 225, F, Sr., Texas

Al-Farouq Aminu, 6-9, 215, F, Soph., Wake Forest

Darington Hobson, 6-7, 205, G, Jr., New Mexico

Quincy Pondexter, 6-6, 215, SF, Sr.,

Best Player You’ve Never Heard of: Darius Johnson-Odom, 6-2, G, Sr., Marquette

Overrated: No. 3 New Mexico

Underrated: No. 11 Washington

Goodman’s breakdowns: Midwest | West | South