A look at the 16 matchups, with each school’s likely starters and analysis from Globe sports editor Joe Sullivan.
Regional: Midwest. Time: 12:15 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 3. Michigan St. (25-8/6-4); 14. Valparaiso (26-7/9-1)
|55||Kevin Van Wijk||6-8||12.7||5.5|
Analysis: The Spartans will give top effort, defend well (opponents shoot less than 40 percent), and rebound (plus-7 margin) but they were a cut below the best in the Big Ten this season. Valpo will have to figure out how to defend the Spartans’ guards, Keith Appling (13.6 ppg, 3.5 apg) and Gary Harris (12.9). Valpo is well-coached by Bryce Drew, who played for his father Homer at Valpo and hit a buzzer-beating shot against Mississippi that’s still shown by CBS. His best players are two imports, 6-foot-7-inch Aussie Ryan Broekhoff (15.9) and 6-8 Dutchman Kevin Van Wijk (12.7), who will have to hold their own against the Spartans’ big men.
Regional: East. Time: 12:40 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 6. Butler (26-8/6-4); 11. Bucknell (28-5/9-1)
Analysis: A matchup of two really good coaches in Butler’s Brad Stevens and Bucknell’s Dave Paulsen (who used to coach Williams). Neither team will beat itself. This will be an intriguing big-man matchup between Bucknell’s Mike Muscala (19.0 ppg, 11.2 rpg) and Butler’s Andrew Smith (11.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg). Overall, both teams shoot well (45 percent). Butler’s best player is dynamic point guard Rotnei Clarke (16.7) but glue-guy extraordinaire Roosevelt Jones is important defensively. In the end Butler is just too good to lose this game.
Regional: West. Time: 1:40 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 8. Pittsburgh (24-8/8-2); 9. Wichita St. (26-8/7-3);
Analysis: Pitt has had a good season, but remember: the only road games the Panthers played were Big East games; that didn’t impress the committee or really prepare a team for this tournament. They’re about to go into the grinder. Wichita State is not a skilled offensive team, but the Shockers have a philosophy: solid defense, rebounding, and patient offense. Pitt can play that game, too, so this figures to be low-scoring and close. Not sure if it’s a taffy pull or a rock fight.
Regional: Midwest. Time: 2:10 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 4. Saint Louis (27-6/9-1); 13. New Mexico St. (24-10/8-2)
|No.||New Mexico St.||Ht.||PPG||RPG|
|11||Mike McCall Jr.||6-0||9.7||2.5|
Analysis: Saint Louis is the best defensive team in the country; it likes to put pressure on teams in the half-court and squeeze the life out of an offense. Opponents don’t simply have difficulty scoring against the Billikens; they have trouble just running their offense. New Mexico State would prefer to push the ball inside to its big guys, 7-foot-5-inch, 360-pound Sim Bhullar and 6-8 Bandja Sy; it will be surprising if the Aggies can do it.
Regional: Midwest. Time: 2:45 Seed, record/last 10: 6. Memphis (30-4/9-1); 11. Saint Mary’s (28-6/14-2)
Analysis: The Tigers have lots of talent on the perimeter, with guards Joe Jackson (13.6), Adonis Thomas (11.9), Chris Crawford (10.7), and Geron Johnson (10.5) all serious offensive threats. The big guys, Tarik Black and Shaq Goodwin, are intimidating. They also won 19 straight conference games, but when challenged outside the league, they lost to VCU, Louisville, Minnesota, and Xavier. It makes people doubt. Saint Mary’s would have a season for the ages if it weren’t for Gonzaga, which beat it three times. The Gaels are an up-tempo team, following the lead of multi-skilled point guard Matthew Dellavedova.
Regional: East. Time: 3:10 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 3. Marquette (23-8/7-3); 14. Davidson (26-7/10-0)
Analysis: Marquette is a true scrappy unit that exceeds its individual talent with great team play. If anyone comes close to a star, it’s “Twinkle Toes’’ Davante Gardner, who is an XXXXL if there ever was one at 6 feet 8 inches, 290 pounds. But he has great footwork that puts that big body in the right places. He nails his free throws, too (84 percent). Vander Blue (14.3) is a guard who doesn’t shoot threes well but gets to the basket. Davidson will make this a close game. Wildcats coach Bob McKillop is exceptional; his team shoots well, plays smart, and defends tenaciously. Jake Cohen, a 6-10 center, can hurt opponents inside and out.
Regional: West. Time: 4:10 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 1. Gonzaga (31-2/10-0); 16. Southern (23-9/8-2)
|5||Gary Bell Jr.||6-1||9.2||2.2|
Analysis: Southern has had a great season, as the program revived to make it back to the tournament. Forward Malcolm Miller is a terrific player, but he’s not going to be enough to prevent a rout. The Zags are the most gifted offensive team in the tournament, with great outside play from guards Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell and skilled inside play from Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris.
Regional: Midwest. Time: 4:40 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 5. Oklahoma St. (24-8/7-3); 12. Oregon (26-8/7-3)
Analysis: This is the chance for Oregon to prove the selection committee wrong for its seed, but it’s not going to be easy. Okie State has the second-best freshman in the country in Marcus Smart, a sleek slasher who’s not a great shooter but leads by example. His effort and decision-making are top-notch. Oregon lost freshman point guard Dominic Artis briefly and slumped. He’s back and healthy. The Ducks’ leading scorer is E.J. Singler, younger brother of former Duke player Kyle Singler.
Regional: Midwest. Time: 6:50 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 1. Louisville (29-5/10-0); 16. N.C. A&T (20-16/6-4)
Analysis: The Cardinals are the overall No. 1 seed after winning the Big East tournament in impressive fashion, rallying like one of Rick Pitino’s racehorses to win going away. The Cardinals have two sometimes stupendous, sometimes erratic guards in Russ Smith (18.1) and Peyton Siva (10.0) plus an intimidating shot-blocker in Gorgui Dieng that helps the full-court press. This will amount to a scrimmage in preparation for the tough games ahead. North Carolina A&T defeated Liberty Tuesday for its first NCAA Tournament win in 10 tries.
Regional: South. Time: 7:15 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 4. Michigan (26-7/5-5); 13. SDSU (25-9/7-3)
|1||Glenn Robinson III||6-6||10.7||5.4|
|10||Tim Hardaway Jr.||6-6||14.8||4.7|
Analysis: This is an upset possibility, but it will take a huge effort from South Dakota State’s do-everything guard Nate Wolters, who leads his team in scoring (22.7) and assists (5.8) and also grabs a decent amount of rebounds (5.6). He averages only 2.3 turnovers. Michigan has to stop him from having a career game. It’ll be interesting to see how the Wolverines’ 1-3-1 zone affects him. Chances are, he could get loose for some 3-pointers. Michigan could dominate with its great trio of guards — Trey Burke (19.2), Tim Hardaway Jr. (14.8), and Glenn Robinson III (10.7) — plus Canadian sharpshooter Nik Stauskas (11.5).
Regional: West. Time: 7:20 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 6. Arizona (25-7/5-5); 11. Belmont (26-6/8-2)
Analysis: Belmont was a tournament regular from the Atlantic Sun, then moved to the Ohio Valley this season and won that conference. The committee was impressed and gave it a decent seed. The Bruins play through two really good guards, Ian Clark (18.1) and Kerron Johnson (13.7). Clark makes 46 percent of his threes. Arizona slumped a bit at the end, losing three of its last five, but the Wildcats are very talented, especially guard Mark Lyons (14.8) and forward Solomon Hill (13.4).
Regional: East. Time: 7:27 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 5. UNLV (25-9/7-3); 12. California (20-11/7-3)
Analysis: Back on Dec. 9, these teams played a tight game, with UNLV winning, 76-75. It was also the game in which UNLV star forward Mike Moser was injured. A high-flying high scorer, he hasn’t been the same since he returned, and that has changed Vegas from a Final Four contender to maybe a Sweet 16 team. The Rebels still have the best freshman in the country in rugged forward Anthony Bennett (16.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg) and plenty of offensive threats. Cal is symbolized by its star Allen Crabbe (18.7), who plays well enough to be Pac 12 Player of the Year but can disappear at times.
Regional: Midwest. Time: 9:20 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 8. Colorado St. (25-8/6-4); 9. Missouri (23-10/6-4)
Analysis: This will be the war on the boards. Colorado State leads the nation with a plus-12.1 rebounding margin, and Missouri is third at plus-9.6. It will be ColoState’s Colton Iverson and Pierce Hornung vs. Missouri’s Alex Oriakhi and Laurence Bowers. Heck, the guards on both teams rebound, too. To win, Colorado State needs to slow down Missouri point guard Phil Pressey (7 apg), who can destroy defenses if he’s allowed to take the ball anywhere he wants. And that’s what he tries to do.
Regional: South. Time: 9:45 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 5. VCU (26-8/7-3); 12. Akron (26-6/8-2)
Analysis: VCU is known for its full-court pressure, and Akron just lost its starting point guard, Alex Abreu, to suspension after he was arrested for buying marijuana. Sounds like a recipe for disaster. With Abreu, the Zips are a formidable unit that put together a 19-game winning streak. Their 7-0 center, Zeke Marshall (13 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 3.7 bpg), can be a force. VCU’s pressure game can make things miserable for opponents, especially Briante Weber, who averages 2.8 steals per game. Without Abreu, that’s almost sure to happen.
Regional: West. Time: 9:50 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 3. New Mexico (29-5/9-1); 14. Harvard (19-9/7-3)
Analysis: Harvard’s NCAA bid was a great reward for the unexpected Ivy League title. The Crimson would be wise to turn this into a half-court game, because they’re going to be giving away size and speed. An upset would be shocking. New Mexico has legitimate Final Four aspirations because of a high-octane offense sparked by guard Kendall Williams, who’s talented enough to score 46 points in a game but also leads the team in assists.
Regional: East. Time: 9:57 Seed, record/last 10: 4. Syracuse (26-9/5-5); 13. Montana (25-6/8-2)
Analysis: Some experts see this as a possible upset because of Montana’s guards, Kareem Jamar (14.5 ppg, 4.1 apg) and Will Cherry (13.9). Unfortunately, the Grizzlies lost their leading scorer, Mathias Ward, to an injury in February. On paper, Syracuse’s physical presence appears to overwhelm Montana; the Grizzlies don’t have anyone who can match up with silky-smooth 6-8 forward C.J. Fair or even a pair of 6-4 guards in Brandon Triche and Michael Carter-Williams (watch him dribble; it’s as if he’s bending over to pick up something off the court)..