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Wichita State's Bracket of Death
The Shockers are being forced to pay the freight for their cakewalk through the Missouri Valley Conference. The top four teams in this region all figured in last season's Elite Eight, with three in the Final Four.
A third-round game against either Kentucky or Kansas State sets the tone early on, and that's coming on the heels of a potential meeting with former La Salle and West Virginia big man Aaric Murray of Texas Southern. The 6'10" journeyman averaged 21.2 points and 7.7 rebounds for the Tigers this season.
Survive either of those freshmen-led teams and a Sweet 16 battle could loom with Louisville—one of the nation's hottest teams from New Year's Eve on—or Saint Louis, a team that stormed through its first 12 Atlantic 10 games before hitting a late skid.
Duke and Michigan are the big names on the other side of the bracket, but the likes of UMass and Arizona State are also on hand.
Considered part of the No. 1 seed conversation until the bitter end, Louisville's fall to fourth in the Midwest seems surprising. Like Wichita State, Louisville is paying for scheduling sins, but the Cardinals' were of their own making.
The Cards played three games against potential tournament teams in their nonleague season, but could only defeat Southern Miss, which finished on the wrong side of the bubble. Every team to beat the Cards, including conference foes, is in the dance, but the committee hammered UL for its subpar scheduling.
A Kentucky team that will likely go down as one of the most overhyped in history has a chance to redeem itself in this region.
If the Cats can get past the other set of Wildcats from Manhattan, Kan., a matchup between a 35-0 team and one that was supposed to be 35-0 will capture more eyes than any that the third round could possibly produce. John Calipari's "overanalyzed" team should relish the rare opportunity to face a more scrutinized bunch than itself.
Break Wichita's perfect run, and the Cats could draw Louisville in a rematch of December's Kentucky victory, but Indianapolis will prove a less comfortable venue than Rupp Arena. Win there, and Duke or Michigan would both sternly test a UK defense that contests shots, but doesn't harass ball-handlers as strongly as it could.