By JIM O'CONNELL, Associated Press
The good news is the NCAA tournament starts Tuesday. The great news is the word bracketology now will disappear for 11 months.
This is the way one man looks at the field, and the track record isn't too shabby. Last season Connecticut was the pick to win it all; thanks to Kemba Walker it was the right call.
Here's the breakdown of the bracket (winners in all caps):
MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE vs. Western Kentucky — The Delta Devils will be helped by their brutal early schedule.
IONA vs. Brigham Young University — The Gaels were the surprise at-large pick. When people get a look at Scott Machado, one of the best point guards in the country, this won't be a shock.
VERMONT vs. Lamar — The Catamounts are a strong defensive team that can take advantage of all the attention Cardinals coach Pat Knight and his derogatory comments about his seniors will draw.
SOUTH FLORIDA vs. California — The Bulls are very physical, and it just isn't the Pac-12's year.
(1) KENTUCKY vs. (16) Mississippi Valley State — It will be sentimental before the blowout as Delta Devils coach Sean Woods goes against the school he led to the regional finals 20 years ago.
(9) CONNECTICUT vs. (8) Iowa State — The Huskies are a different team with Jim Calhoun back on the bench, and they are the only team with a chance to repeat as champion.
(5) WICHITA STATE vs. Virginia Commonwealth — The Shockers have a good big man in Garrett Stutz, and the Rams can't sneak up on anybody after reaching the Final Four last year.
(13) NEW MEXICO STATE vs. (4) Indiana — The Aggies are a very athletic team; the Hoosiers are a team with no NCAA experience.
(6) UNLV vs. (11) Colorado — The Runnin' Rebels are going to be happy to get away from Mountain West teams.
(3) BAYLOR vs. (14) South Dakota State — Five of the Bears' seven losses were to Kansas and Missouri; the Jackrabbits aren't on that level.
(10) XAVIER vs. (7) Notre Dame — The Musketeers' backcourt can speed things up against the Fighting Irish, who have had a lot of trouble scoring lately.
(2) DUKE vs. Lehigh — The Blue Devils just don't lose NCAA games in the state of North Carolina.
CONNECTICUT vs. Kentucky — This is a rematch of last year's national semifinal. Connecticut's Andre Drummond gets a chance to show he could be on the level of Anthony Davis of the Wildcats in a matchup of freshmen big men.
WICHITA STATE vs. New Mexico State — While most people watch Stutz in the middle, the Shockers have a pretty good backcourt that can run with the Aggies.
UNLV vs. Baylor — Teams aren't shy about letting 3s fly against the Bears' zone, and the Runnin' Rebels have four players who can hit them.
DUKE vs. Xavier — The Blue Devils have plenty of Plumlees to take advantage of Xavier's thin frontcourt.
WICHITA STATE vs. Connecticut — The Huskies' NCAA run has to end sometime, and the Shockers will take advantage of UConn still riding the upset of the overall No. 1 seed.
DUKE vs. University of Nevada-Las Vegas — This was a great national semifinal game in 1991. The Blue Devils should move on with a rare advantage up front.
WICHITA STATE vs. Duke — By now, Stutz will be recognized as a legitimate big man, and Duke hasn't done well against power players.
(1) MICHIGAN STATE vs. (16) Long Island University — The Blackbirds have dominated the Northeast Conference the last two seasons. The Spartans handle themselves pretty well in the Big Ten.
(8) MEMPHIS vs. (16) St. Louis — The Tigers haven't had a close game in their seven-game winning streak, and their depth should help against the Billikens' solid defense.
(12) LONG BEACH STATE vs. (5) New Mexico — The 49ers are a veteran team that played a tough nonconference schedule.
(4) LOUISVILLE vs. (13) Davidson — The Cardinals won the Big East tournament and are finally healthy.
(11) COLORADO STATE vs. (6) Murray State — The Rams have faced a lot of teams that like to shoot the 3 the way the Racers do, so defending Isaiah Canaan won't be anything new.