The First Four got underway Tuesday night, and it is just one day away from tipping off the first round of the Big Dance. Some teams, like Virginia and Tennessee, were handed a favorable draw. While other teams, like North Carolina and Michigan State, face a daunting road ahead. Here is the most difficult region in the NCAA Tournament:
The Midwest Region
There isn’t a much stronger pair of one and two seeds in North Carolina and Kentucky. The Wildcats were close to getting a one seed, and are a team no one wants to play right now. The Tar Heels have been extremely good since their January home loss to Louisville. Both teams are loaded with NBA talent and possess two head coaches who have combined for 15 Final Four Appearances.
Houston is a dangerous three seed and is another team that coaches don’t want to see in their bracket. They enter the tournament with a 31-3 record, having won the AAC regular-season title. The Cougars have experience from last year’s squad that was seconds away from a trip to the Sweet 16. That was until Jordan Poole hit a miraculous shot at the buzzer to eliminate Houston.
Not to mention, four and five seeds Auburn and Kansas could give North Carolina a tough time in the Sweet 16. The Tigers just dismantled Tennessee in the SEC Tournament final by 20 points. Kansas isn’t as loaded as usual, but still have enough talent and a Hall of Fame coach to help them advance.
Iowa State just ran through the Big 12 Tournament and are as hot as any team in the country right now. If they can get by Ohio State, both Houston and Iowa State could present problems to John Calipari’s team. That is if they get by the winner of Wofford and Seton Hall, as many remember the Pirates monumental upset of the Wildcats in Madison Square Garden earlier this season. The Wofford Terriers are no cupcake either, as they enter the Big Dance with a 29-4 record and a sharpshooter in Fletcher Magee.
The Midwest region is certainly the most challenging of all four regions, and whoever advances to Minneapolis out of this region will definitely be battle-tested.
Follow Taron Long on Twitter: @TaronAllDayLong