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Midwest Region bracket breakdown

MCT

MCT

Team to beat

Even before the selection committee befuddled the Commonwealth of Kentucky with its bracketing, No. 4-seeded Louisville possessed the components for another Final Four run.

Among them: momentum, a tourney-savvy coach (Rick Pitino), veteran guard (Russ Smith) and matchup nightmare in the post (Montrezl Harrell). Now it possesses the biggest grudge of any team in the field.

CBS analyst and Sports Illustrated writer Seth Davis called Louisville's seeding the biggest shock he has seen in tourney bracketing. Added ESPN analyst Jay Bilas: "To suggest that Louisville's not in the top 12 teams in the country just boggles the mind."

The American Athletic Conference tournament champ, Louisville (29-5) enters Thursday's opener against Manhattan having won 12 of its past 13. No team has come within single digits of the Cards since Feb. 22.

"Right now, I think if you ask anybody … Louisville is playing as well as anyone, and the committee certainly agrees with that," committee chairman Ron Wellman told CBS. "However, we look at the total body of work."

Upset alert

How 'bout No. 8 Kentucky over top-seeded Wichita State in the round of 32?

If their SEC tournament final effort against Florida was any sign, the 'Cats — who face Kansas State on Friday — might be re-seizing some of their mojo. And Wichita State hasn't faced an NCAA Tournament team since Dec. 22 (North Carolina Central).



Purposeful pairing?

While some fans — namely those at Louisville and SMU — question whether the selection committee has a clue, there's no arguing it possesses creativity. Case in point: Louisville vs. Manhattan on Thursday.

Jaspers coach Steve Masiello was a seldom-used guard for Pitino at Kentucky and later coached for him on the Cardinals staff. He'll probably enjoy the reunion more than his mentor. Pitino generally hates coaching against his former pupils.

F Cleanthony Early, Wichita State. The Shockers' top scorer (15.8 per game) and rebounder (5.9) scored 24 in a loss to Louisville in the 2013 national semifinals. He might get his crack at redemption in the Sweet 16.

F Montrezl Harrell, Louisville. The Cards have a force (guard Russ Smith) and force of nature (Harrell). In the American final against UConn, the 6-8 sophomore had 22 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.

G Jahii Carson, Arizona State. Carson (18.7 points and 4.6 assists per game) can carry a team. He has six career games of at least 28 points, including 40 in a Nov. 19 win at UNLV.

Joey Knight, Times staff writer

Upset alert

How 'bout No. 8 Kentucky over top-seeded Wichita State in the round of 32?

If their SEC tournament final effort against Florida was any sign, the 'Cats — who face Kansas State on Friday — might be re-seizing some of their mojo. And Wichita State hasn't faced an NCAA Tournament team since Dec. 22 (North Carolina Central).

Midwest Region bracket breakdown 03/16/14 [Last modified: Sunday, March 16, 2014 10:36pm]

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