BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum
Opening night of the NCAA Tournament could have been a wake-up call for many.
And while there is still time, one should really reconsider looking at how far they have certain teams advancing in the big dance.
For some, Wake Forest losing in the First Four to Kansas State came across as a shock.
As early returns on brackets are coming in, surprisingly No. 11 Wake Forest were many people's favorite not only to win their First Four matchup, but jump into the Round of 32 by beating No. 6 Cincinnati.
Now whether that was mere hope of Demon Deacon fans, the allure of the ACC's strength this year, or simply that Wake Forest is a 'bigger' college basketball name than Kansas State or Cincinnati, Wake Forest was not going to make that run.
There are other teams that fall into this situation as well, that are big names, or have injuries, that one should look at before brackets become final. Not insinuating that these teams will lose in the opening rounds, but simply that do not expect them to go far past round of 32.
— No. 3 Oregon (Midwest, vs. No. 14 Iona)
This should come as no surprise to anyone to those that have followed college basketball throughout the conference championships. Losing one of their key starters, Chris Boucher leaves a giant hole in their lineup. The 6'10" forward, was vital at the stretch four position and the Ducks offense, he was third on the team in points (11.8 per game), second in rebounds (6.1 per game), and blocks (2.5 per game).
Although they nearly pulled out a Pac-12 Championship against Arizona in the following game, it is never easy to pull out a run following an injury. Oregon should not be a First Round exit, but with either No. 6 Creighton or No. 11 Rhode Island waiting for them in the Second Round followed by potentially No. 2 Louisville, it would be tough to pull off even at full-strength.
— No. 6 Maryland (West, vs. No. 11 Xavier)
Sorry Terps fans, but losing four out of the last six games heading into the tournament does not bode well. Although height and size is a minor issue, Maryland just simply is not built for a long tournament run. Every year though they seem to be fan favorites to make the Elite Eight or Final Four no matter where they are seeded.
Face it, the Big Ten had a rough year this season as a conference and was not as strong overall. The Terps might not be prepared for heavyweight teams night after night. It will not stop one of the best backcourts in the NCAA with Melo Trimble and Anthony Cowan Jr. from trying though.
— No. 3 UCLA (South, vs. No. 14 Kent State)
UCLA is hyped up right now. Returning to the tournament after missing it last season and one of the most eccentric players in college basketball, Lonzo Ball, the Bruins are favorites to make a run. Partly this is because of their high powered offense that scored more than 90 points in 14 contests this year.
As everyone has learned in the past handful of seasons though, you have to have a good defense to win the tournament. Frankly, if the Bruins cannot score, then their defense will be unable to bail them out. Their potential Second Round opponent, No. 6 Cincinnati, does play defense and limits teams to only 60 points a night.
— No. 7 Michigan (Midwest, vs. No. 10 Oklahoma State)
Conference champions are easy teams to throw in for a deep NCAA tournament run because they are getting hot at the right time. For the Wolverines though their Big Ten Championship did them no favors in seeding, pulling in at a No. 7 seed.
First up they play one of the hottest teams in the country, No. 10 Oklahoma State then potentially one of the best teams in basketball for the past several years, No. 2 Louisville. From there it gets only worse and as mentioned earlier, Big Ten teams are not as primed for long tournament runs like ACC or Big East teams.
— No. 10 Wichita State (South, vs. No. 7 Dayton)
The Shockers are another team that suffers from their placement in the bracket, which is one of the most heinous seeding faults of this tournament. First up they play No. 7 Dayton, no slouch in terms of mid-majors, followed by potentially No. 2 Kentucky, which yes everyone wants to see. After that it is then the Sweet 16 and more tough teams are on the horizon.
If by some miracle the Shockers can survive a back-to-back with Dayton and Kentucky, two of the most relentless teams in the country. Wichita State will be gassed out. This is not the same 2014 Wichita State Shockers, who I remind you, lost to Kentucky when the Wildcats were a No. 8 seed in the Second Round.
— No. 3 Baylor (East, No. 14 New Mexico State)
Heading into conference play as a contender for the national championship, the Bears have trailed off toward the end of the year. Losers of six in their past 11 games, Baylor is doing the exact opposite of what you want come tournament time. Wins against Oregon, Michigan State, Louisville, and Xavier are from a team far from what we see now.
Expect the Johnathan Motley show, who comes into the tournament averaging 17.3 points and 9.9 rebounds. If not and the ball can be distributed around then that completely changes the dynamic of this team. In the past several games Motley has taken nearly a third of the teams shots and it is a case of whether or not he is feeling it to determine if Baylor were to win.