NCAA Tournament Bracket: Each Region's Most Intriguing Round of 64 Matchup

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IMarch 18, 2013

If you only get a chance to watch four NCAA tournament games this year, then—well, I feel kind of bad for you. 

The 2012-13 college hoops season has been absolute madness, and now that the Field of 68 has finally been revealed, it's clear that the electrifying action will only continue for the next few weeks. 

It seems like every school in the tournament is on upset watch, and as such, the first Thursday and Friday of the tournament will provide countless matchups that will serve as potential instant classics. 

Moral of the story: Watch the entire tournament. 

If that's not an option, though, here's a look at the most intriguing battle from each region.

Note: Be sure to click here to download a printable NCAA bracket. You can also follow along with a live, updated bracket here. 


Midwest: Creighton vs. Cincinnati

It's the unstoppable force vs. the immovable object. 

Led by Doug McDermott's 23.1 points per contest, the Missouri Valley champions are one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country. They are third in America with 1.15 points per possession and sixth in KenPom's offensive efficiency rankings

But Mick Cronin's squad will drag you through the mud. 

Sean Kilpatrick, Cashmere Wright and Cincy's guards bring a lot of full-court defensive pressure and slow the game down on offense. As a result, the Bearcats play at a snail's pace, make games ugly and hold teams to just 0.876 points per possession


South: Michigan vs. South Dakota State

March Madness is often all about guard play, and you won't find a Round of 64 matchup with two better floor generals.

Maybe ever. 

Trey Burke, the Big 10 Player of the Year, leads Michigan. The explosive point guard is nearly impossible to stay in front of, and he averages a staggering 19.2 points, 6.7 assists, 1.6 steals and just 2.0 turnovers per game.

Moreover, you won't find a more clutch player in the nation capable of hitting the big shot or making the big steal down the stretch

On the other side stands Nate Wolters. 

At 6'4", the pride of St. Cloud is built differently than Burke, but he as just as dynamic with his inside-outside scoring, elite distribution ability and pesky defense.

Wolters is averaging 22.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.8 steals.

You simply don't ever see two legitimate National Player of the Year candidates face off this early in the Big Dance. 


East: UNLV vs. California

These teams already faced off once this season, and a look at that matchup is all you need to know. 

At a dangerously-fast pace, the Rebels rode a breakout performance from Anthony Bennett to a 75-74 nail-biting win over Allen Crabbe and the Bears. 

But Round 2 has the pieces to be even better. The Rebels return Khem Birch (didn't play) and Mike Moser (left after five minutes due to a nasty injury) from that December matchup, while Cal's incredibly dangerous guards and athletic frontcourt has improved considerably over the last few months. 


West: Arizona vs. Belmont

Arizona plays at a fairly fast pace (68.4 possessions per 40) and scores a healthy 1.067 points per possession. Belmont plays even faster and is even more efficient on the offensive end.

If you like scoring, you're going to get a lot of it in this one.

Moreover, the Wildcats played some of their best basketball in the Pac-12 tournament, and with Grant Jerrett beginning to catch fire, they have some of the most impressive frontcourt depth in America.

Belmont, on the other hand, is led by sharpshooter Ian Clark and impossible-to-keep-out-of-the-lane Kerron Johnson.

Offense vs. offense. Inconsistent defense vs. inconsistent defense. Frontcourt strength vs. backcourt strength.

Yes, please.  


Make your picks for the 2013 NCAA tournament here with the Bracket Challenge Game


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