Big 12 regular season and tournament champion Kansas heads up the Southwest Region, which concludes in San Antonio next Friday and Sunday, March 25 and 27. The Jayhawks will be looking to stick around a bit longer than they did in 2010, when Northern Iowa stunned them in the second round (third round this year). Bill Self's team is once again among the favorites, though not as overwhelmingly so as they were last season, especially since Ohio State has top billing in the bracket.
This quarter of the bracket is full of intriguing potential matchups. Eighth-seeded UNLV would have been Kansas' opponent in the second round last season had they not become the first victim of Panther Power two days earlier. Plus, Runnin' Rebels' head coach Lon Kruger faces Illinois, one of his former employers, in his team's first game. And who did Bill Self coach before Kansas, the Fighting Illini!
The No. 2 and 3 seeds, Notre Dame and Purdue, are the two best programs in the state of Indiana at the moment, so that potential regional semifinal is a big one for recruiting and prestige. Even, the No. 7 vs. No. 10 game, Texas A&M's matchup with Florida State, is one to watch, but only if you're a fan of defense.
Most Intriguing Second Round Game: No. 13 Morehead State vs. No. 4 Louisville in Denver: It's going to be interesting to see how Terrence Jennings and Rakeem Buckles deal with the Eagles' rebounding machine Kenneth Faried. Plus, the in-state rivalry aspect to this one automatically makes this one to watch.
Upset Special: No. 12 Richmond over No. 5 Vanderbilt in Denver on Thursday: The Commodores are one of many teams that just doesn't play as well on the road as they do at home, and the combination of the Spiders' modified Princeton offense, versatile players (Kevin Anderson, Justin Harper, and Dan Geriot) could give Kevin Stallings' team fits if it can't get shots to fall.
Chris Dobbertean's Regional Pick: The path is clear for Kansas, but that's what we all said last year.
Need a printable NCAA bracket to fill out for the tournament? Download SB Nation's March Madness Bracket.