Mar 15, 2015 8:33 PM
Breaking down every early matchup in the NCAA Tournament
The Associated Press
Sixty-eight teams will begin the NCAA Tournament this week, all hoping to be the last one standing on April 6 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. But you can't win it all without winning one, so here is quick look at the matchups set on Selection Sunday:
1 Kentucky vs 16 Manhattan/Hampton: The tournament's overall No. 1 seed begins its pursuit of a 40-0 season against the winner of the First Four matchup between the Jaspers and Pirates. The game is just down the road in Louisville.
8 Cincinnati vs 9 Purdue: With coach Mick Cronin sidelined since December due to a vascular condition, associate head coach Larry Davis guided the Bearcats back to the tournament and a matchup with the rangy Boilermakers.
5 West Virginia vs 12 Buffalo: The Mountaineers expect to have Juwan Staten and Gary Browne back from injuries after both missed the Big 12 Tournament, while the Bulls of coach Bobby Hurley are coming off their first MAC Tournament championship.
4 Maryland vs 13 Valparaiso: Get ready for one of the nation's top freshmen in Maryland's Melo Trimble. Meanwhile, NCAA Tournament icon Bryce Drew's Crusaders hope to be healthy after a series of injuries late in the season.
6 Butler vs 11 Texas: If Butler's mascot vomited on the floor at the Big East Tournament, how will the bulldog handle the NCAA Tournament? The Longhorns, who began the season ranked in the top 10, sneaked in as one of the final at-large picks.
3 Notre Dame vs 14 Northeastern: After winning the ACC Tournament, the Fighting Irish and star forward Jerian Grant open up against the Huskies, who are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1991.
7 Wichita State vs 10 Indiana: Perhaps slighted by the selection committee, the Shockers should have no problem adhering to their mantra of "play angry" against the Hoosiers, who have dropped four of their last five games.
2 Kansas vs 15 New Mexico State: The Jayhawks hope leading scorer Perry Ellis is close to 100 percent after a late-season knee injury, while the Aggies, led by 6-foot-9 freshman Pascacl Siakam, are one of the nation's best rebounding teams.
1 Wisconsin vs 16 Coastal Carolina: Earning a No. 1 seed for the first time, the Big Ten champion Badgers and standout forward Frank Kaminsky begin their push for a second straight Final Four against the Big South champion Chanticleers.
8 Oregon vs 9 Oklahoma State: The Ducks are led by Joseph Young, arguably the Pac-12's top player. The Cowboys counter with the experience of junior sharpshooter Phil Forte III and senior forward Le'Bryan Nash.
5 Arkansas vs 12 Wofford: After a poor performance in the SEC title game against Kentucky, the Razorbacks' Bobby Portis will try to bounce back against the Terriers, who beat North Carolina State on the road in December.
4 North Carolina vs 13 Harvard: Tar Heels freshman forward Justin Jackson played some of his best basketball of the season in the ACC Tournament. But the Crimson are hardened this time of year, making their fourth straight trip to the dance.
6 Xavier vs 11 BYU/Ole Miss: The Musketeers hope freshman J.P. Macura is back after spraining his right ankle in the Big East semifinals. While his numbers may be modest, Macura has provided big energy off the bench.
3 Baylor vs 14 Georgia State: The Bears may be banged up after the Big 12 grind, but the bumps and bruises are nothing to Georgia State coach Ron Hunter. He injured his Achilles tendon celebrating the Panthers' Sun Belt title Sunday.
7 VCU vs 10 Ohio State: Despite losing their leader Briante Weber to a knee injury, the Rams rolled to their first Atlantic 10 Tournament title. D'Angelo Russell and the Buckeyes played well down the stretch before losing to Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament.
2 Arizona vs 15 Texas Southern: In the discussion for a No. 1 seed, the Wildcats won their first Pac-12 Tournament title in 13 years with a rout of Oregon. The Jaguars are coached by Mike Davis, who guided Indiana to the national title game in 2002.
1 Villanova vs No 16 Lafayette: The Wildcats have not lost since Jan. 19, when they fell at Georgetown. They'll face the Leopards of the Patriot League, who rank in the top 10 nationally in field-goal percentage.
8 North Carolina State vs No 9 LSU: The selection committee remembered the Wolfpack's wins over Duke and Louisville and paid less attention to a blowout loss to the Blue Devils in the ACC Tournament. LSU was upset by Auburn in the SEC Tournament.
5 Northern Iowa vs 12 Wyoming: Many thought the Panthers deserved a better seed after beating Wichita State twice in three meetings. Instead, they get a date with the Cowboys, who are in the tournament for the first time in 13 years.
4 Louisville vs 13 UC-Irvine: The Cardinals, led by Montrezl Harrell, have struggled with their shooting all season. Tune in to watch the Anteaters' Mamadou Ndiaye, a 7-foot-6, 300-pound sophomore center from Senegal try to swat their shots.
6 Providence vs 11 Boise State/Dayton: The Friars' Kris Dunn helped take his team to the brink of beating top-seeded Villanova in the Big East Tournament. The sophomore guard has scored at least 16 points in five straight games.
3 Oklahoma vs 14 Albany: Led by Buddy Hield, the Sooners have the ability to score at all five positions, but their bench has been nonexistent. The Danes beat Stony Brook for the America East title on Peter Hooley's buzzer-beater.
7 Michigan State vs 10 Georgia: The Spartans always seem to shine in March, as evidenced by their run to the Big Ten Tournament finals. Georgia has been dogged by injuries all year but is starting to hit its stride.
2 Virginia vs 15 Belmont: The Cavaliers' Justin Anderson hopes to be back to pre-injury form after missing seven games to a finger injury and appendectomy. Meanwhile, the Bruins will try to solve one of the nation's best defenses.
1 Duke vs 16 North Florida/Robert Morris: Led by freshman sensation Jahlil Okafor, the Blue Devils had won 12 straight before falling to Notre Dame in the ACC Tournament. Okafor scored 28 in that game for his 12th 20-plus performance of the year.
8 San Diego State vs 9 St. John's: The low-scoring Aztecs earned an at-large bid thanks largely to non-conference wins over Utah and BYU. The Red Storm are led by Rysheed Jordan and his senior backcourt mate, D'Angelo Harrison.
5 Utah vs 12 Stephen F. Austin: The Utes' Isaiah Wright can score with anyone and 7-foot freshman Jakob Poeltl is one of the nation's most skilled big men, while the Lumberjacks beat VCU in the NCAA Tournament last season.
4 Georgetown vs 13 Eastern Washington: Watch for Hoyas center Josh Smith, who at 6-10, 350 pounds is hard to miss. He could pose a big problem for the Eagles, who ranked third nationally in scoring at more than 80 points per game.
6 SMU vs 11 UCLA: Larry Brown is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since taking Kansas to the 1988 title. He'll lead the Mustangs against UCLA, the program he led to the 1980 championship game a runner-up finish that was later vacated.
3 Iowa State vs 14 UAB: The Cyclones, led by affable forward Georges Niang, have rallied from double-digit deficits in each of their last five wins, while UAB is coming off a surprising Conference USA Tournament title.
7 Iowa vs 10 Davidson: The mercurial Hawkeyes have looked dominant one minute, easily beatable the next, while fellow at-large selection Davidson will be trying to bounce back from a trouncing by VCU in the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
2 Gonzaga vs 15 North Dakota State: Could this be the year the Bulldogs finally make the Final Four? They'll start their run in nearby Seattle against the Bison, who won the Summit League behind the play of star guard Lawrence Alexander.