NCAA Tournament 2010: Sorting Out Who Will Make up the Sweet 16
The NCAA Tournament 2010 Bracket is out, which means the debate to who will cut down the nets in Indianapolis can officially begin.
While winning the whole tournament is the ultimate goal for every team, the Sweet 16 is generally seen as a great benchmark for achieving in the NCAA Tournament.
This slideshow will break down which teams will have the best shot to make the Sweet 16.
For more updates on college hoops, follow @JamesonFleming. on Twitter. Jameson will be covering the East Regional Finals in Syracuse as well as the Final Four in Indianapolis for Bleacher Report.
Midwest Pod 1: Kansas, UNLV, Northern Iowa, and Lehigh
Who Has the Best Shot?
Kansas is the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament which means UNLV, Northern Iowa, and especially Lehigh should not be feeling too hot about their chances to reach the Sweet 16.
The Jayhawks really don't have a glaring weakness that any of the teams in this pod can exploit.
Who Can Upset Kansas?
UNLV has the best chance to beat Kansas. Northern Iowa provides difficult challenges for all opponents because the Panthers are so effective at slowing the game down, but the Jayhawks have the ability to avoid being completely slowed down and shut down by the Panthers.
Kansas isn't the fastest tempo team in the world, but the Jayhawks consistently play in the 68-72 possession range and rarely are slowed down. Northern Iowa could probably slow KU down into the low 60s, but not the mid 50s the Panthers need to upset the Jayhawks.
That leaves UNLV, who at times can get very hot and shoot teams out of the gym. Just ask Brigham Young who the Rebels dropped 56 on in the first half of a recent game in Las Vegas.
Neither Northern Iowa nor UNLV should be much opposition for Kansas. The Jayhawks have the easiest road to the Sweet 16 of the No. 1 seeds, but after that, the road gets very tough for KU.
Sorry You Don't Have a Chance
Lehigh, your day in the tournament will come eventually with Patriot League Freshman and Player of the Year C.J. McCollum. For now, just learn from the experience and hope Kansas doesn't beat you by 40.
Midwest Pod 2: Michigan State, New Mexico State, Maryland and Houston
Who Has the Best Shot?
Maryland. Kansas has the best shot of the No. 1 seeds to reach the Sweet 16; Maryland may also be the No. 4 seed with the best shot to do the same.
The Terrapins draw a Houston team in the first round that needed a miracle 2008 Georgia-like run to make the NCAA Tournament.
While the Cougars are on a roll, Tom Penders' team didn't play a team of Maryland's caliber in the Conference USA Tournament.
Who can upset Maryland?
Michigan State has the best shot to take down Maryland. Both Maryland and Michigan State should cakewalk into the round of 32 as those two teams drew very favorable matchups.
The Spartans haven't played the greatest basketball down the stretch, but there is still a lot of tournament experience on this squad.
Remember, the majority of these players played a major role on last year's Championship Game squad.
Tom Izzo is a tremendous tournament coach, but he'll have his work cut out for him against a much faster and efficient team.
Sorry, but you have no chance
This is usually reserved for one team, but both New Mexico State and Houston shouldn't be booking hotel rooms in St. Louis.
NMSU is a nice offensive team that might be able to put some points up on Michigan State, but this team is a sieve on the defensive end of the floor.
Midwest Pod 3: Georgetown, Tennessee, San Diego State, Ohio
Who has the best shot?
Georgetown. The Hoyas aren't the deepest team in the world, nor are they the greatest on the defensive end of the floor, but Georgetown matches up well with each of the teams in this pod.
Georgetown has the best quality wins of any team in this pod and are playing great basketball after a slide late in the regular season.
Who can upset Georgetown
Tennessee has the best shot as the second best team in this region, but San Diego State has a great shot at upsetting Tennessee in the first round.
The Aztecs are on a roll after knocking off New Mexico and UNLV in the Mountain West Tournament. SDSU might have the most pure talent in the MWC, but it wasn't until the end of the season until the Aztecs began to blossom.
San Diego State is a much more physical team than Tennessee and is more successful at imposing its tempo.
No matter which team reaches the round of 32 against Georgetown, neither team matches up well with Georgetown.
Tennessee might be able to slow down the Georgetown attack, which ranks sixth in the country in field goal percentage, but UT won't be able to go basket-for-basket with the Hoyas down the stretch.
San Diego State can score with Georgetown, but when it matters, SDSU won't be able to get the stops needed.
Sorry, you stand no chance
Ohio, your Cinderella run was in the Mid-American Conference Tournament. It ends against Georgetown and it could end in spectacular fashion.
Midwest Pod 4: Ohio State, OK State, Georgia Tech, UC-Santa Barbara
Who has the best shot?
Ohio State. The Buckeyes had a serious case for a No. 1 seed, so odds are this team isn't going out in second round.
Both teams the Buckeyes could face in the second round do pose serious matchup problems.
Oklahoma State might be slightly over-seeded as a seven seed, but two-guard James Anderson can go bucket-for-bucket with soon-to-be National Player of the Year Evan Turner.
If Georgia Tech beats Oklahoma State (which is likely with G-Tech's athleticism and length), then the Yellow Jackets will tower above the Buckeyes.
Who can knock off Ohio State?
Georgia Tech stands the best shot. The Yellow Jackets defend very well, making scoring in the paint a living hell for opponents.
Evan Turner does the majority of his scoring inside the arc which will be cause for concern for Ohio State.
When OSU isn't scoring behind Turner in the paint, it is dropping three-balls, but with Georgia Tech's length and athleticism, getting clean looks from deep may also be an issue.
Georgia Tech doesn't score well but crashes the glass very well (18th in the country in offensive rebounding). Ohio State is undersized and generally plays a four-guard set which is one reason why Turner's rebounding numbers are so impressive.
If G-Tech can impose its will on the glass and its size is a problem, the team that has the best shot of beating Kansas, could be out in the second round.
Sorry, you have no shot.
UC-Santa Barbara. Plain and simple, the Gauchos cannot score. If they were going to upset Ohio State, they'd need some size, but UCSB is lacking in the girth department, which means a loss by single-digits is a victory for the Big West.
East Pod 1: Kentucky, East Tenn. St, Texas, and Wake Forest
Who has the best shot?
Kentucky. No brainer here. The Wildcats are the second best team in the country, but that doesn't mean they are a lock to advance to the Sweet 16.
Like Syracuse and Duke, Kentucky's path to the Sweet 16 isn't too easy.
While the opening-round matchup against East Tennessee State doesn't stand a chance to spring the tournament's first 1-16 upset, the second round could pose problems for the Wildcats.
Wake Forest is one of the best defensive field goal percentage teams in the country whose length could give Kentucky serious problems.
Wake's downfall may come in the fact the Demon Deacons like to run-and-gun like Kentucky, and clearly a John Wall-led fast break takes precedence over any other fast break in the country.
Texas has the talent to beat anybody, but overall that team is a disaster on the offensive end of the floor and has been slowly falling apart on the defensive end as well.
But on the rare chance Texas pulls it together, Kentucky could be playing a Final Four caliber team in the second round.
Who can beat Kentucky?
Texas. The Longhorns have more than enough size to beat the Wildcats up in the paint, which is almost impossible to do with a tandem like Patrick Patterson and DeMarcus Cousins.
Texas can also force Kentucky into foul trouble; with Kentucky's youth and inexperience, Cousins, who is the most influential player on the floor for John Calipari, could end up on the bench with foul problems.
East Pod 2: Wisconsin, Temple, Cornell, Wofford
Who has the best shot?
The winner of Cornell-Temple. Wisconsin is deadly efficient on both ends of the floor, and its slow-it-down style will provide problems for many teams, but Cornell and Temple are built to be able to beat a team like Wisconsin.
Cornell is as talented as seven or eight seed, but its resume, due to a lack of games against the RPI 100, drops them down to a 12 seed.
Temple's Fran Dunphy and Cornell's Steve Donahue know each other quite well, and both squads play similar styles of basketball. That game will come down to whichever team has a better day and executes better.
Sorry, you don't have a chance.
Wofford. The 12 seed Cornell is just as likely as the four and five seed to make the Sweet 16, but the 13 seed, Wofford doesn't stand a chance.
The Terriers are a good basketball team, but certainly can't score well enough to compete with highly efficient offensive teams like Wisconsin and Cornell.
East Pod 3: New Mexico, Marquette, Washington, Montana
Who has the best shot
Marquette. The Golden Eagles have played more tough, close games to have them tournament ready for the next dozen years.
Ultimately, Marquette will probably be forced to play tight contests against Washington and New Mexico which will give Buzz Williams' squad the edge.
Despite little size and little depth, Marquette continues to win because Buzz Williams is one of the best x and o's coaches in the game.
Give him four days to prep for a disappointing Washington team, and he should be able to win this game on possessions coming out of timeouts.
What about New Mexico?
It's hard to pick against a team that lost just four games all season, but it's justifiable.
Lazar Hayward is a man among boys in this potential matchup. Darington Hobson has been outstanding for New Mexico all season, but he has yet to face a player of Hayward's caliber.
New Mexico isn't good against the two or the three and with Marquette draining 40.7 percent of its threes, that doesn't bode well for a Lobos squad that ranks just 47th in efficiency margin despite being a three seed.
Watch out for Anthony Johnson
Anthony Johnson could blow up this pod. He shoots a high percentage on his mid-range jumpers, but can also get hot from deep. When he does go off, he can beat anybody.
Case in point: down 22 against Weber State, Johnson scored 34 points in the second half to put Montana in the tournament. He could be a tough matchup for New Mexico and Marquette.
East Pod 4: West Virginia, Clemson, Missouri, and Morgan St.
Who has the best shot?
West Virginia and its not even close. Both Clemson and Missouri could give West Virginia problems with their pressure defense, but ultimately West Virginia has a handful of players that can knock down a shot from anywhere.
The pressure will create plenty of opportunities for West Virginia to get easier looks around the basket.
The Mountaineers will pound the glass as the best offensive rebounding team in the country and Missouri/Clemson's desire to get out and run will further compound that problem for those two teams.
Most exciting first round game?
Clemson and Missouri are both exciting to watch no matter who they play. In the first round, they'll play each other.
These two teams could combine for one of the most frenetic tournament games since well Missouri played Memphis last year.
Both teams have stout pressure defenses that speed up the tempo and force their opponent to play in transition.
Thanks for playing, Todd Bozeman
Todd Bozeman has turned Morgan State into a power in the MEAC. Unfortunately the MEAC is a pretty terrible league.
They do have two of the 2-15 upsets (Hampton and Coppin State), but West Virginia won't be losing to Morgan State any time soon.
South Pod 1: Duke, Play in Winner, California, and Louisville
Who has the best shot?
Duke. The Selection Committee gave Duke a gift. Not only are the Blue Devils the third No. 1 seed, but they don't have to go west, they drew the worst second seed in Villanova and the worst four seed in Purdue.
The one gift Duke didn't receive is an easy second round matchup. The Blue Devils are the favorites to reach Houston out of these four teams, but Louisville could give Duke all kinds of problems.
The Cardinals' 2-3 zone keeps them in every game and when Samardo Samuels shows up and plays, UL can beat anybody.
To say Duke might blow its shot to exploit its incredibly easy bracket in the second round isn't a stretch.
Rick Pitino is one of the best coaches in the game at making half-time adjustments, which will be key if Mike Krzyzewski's team comes out well-prepared against Pitino's fake press and zone.
South Pod 2: Purdue, Texas A&M, Utah State, Siena
Who has the best shot?
Texas A&M. The Aggies (Utah State and Texas A&M) and Siena must have been licking their chops when it was announced Purdue would be in this regional.
The Boilermakers don't even look like a NCAA Tournament team without Robbie Hummel.
Two seniors, Donald Sloan and Bryan Davis, lead A&M and both have emerged as go-to players without injured guard Derrick Roland.
The Aggies don't do anything particularly well, but are solid in all facets of the game which make them a tough matchup for anyone.
Who can beat Texas A&M?
Utah State is so deadly efficient on the offensive end of the floor that on a day where Texas A&M cannot get the shots to fall, Utah State could easily pull away with a double-digit victory in the opening round.
USU almost knocked off Marquette, a similarly talented team as Texas A&M, and should be poised to give the Texas version of the Aggies a run for their money.
What about Siena?
The Saints have tournament experience after beating Ohio State in the first round last year and giving Louisville a serious scare.
This year's team was projected to be better, but instead Siena dropped to the 13 seed line.
But that's okay, because Purdue isn't much of a threat to win in March which means Siena could be off to the second round again.
Siena hasn't the shown the ability to beat more athletic, power conference teams. The Saints' run will likely end in the second round against Texas A&M, but if Utah State were to advance, Siena would have a shot at the Sweet 16.
South Pod 3: Baylor, Notre Dame, Old Dominion, Sam Houston St.
Who should win?
Baylor. This pod is absolutely stacked as Baylor and Notre Dame are threats to reach the Elite Eight and Old Dominion is capable of reaching the Sweet 16.
The Bears are the kind of team that can make a 2003 Syracuse-like run. Scott Drew's squad plays a lot of zone defense, which can be hard to prepare for, but they also score at will.
There may not be a team in the country that's more athletic than Baylor which is why Notre Dame or Old Dominion will ultimately not be able to knock off Baylor.
And frankly, that's a shame because Notre Dame is playing like an Elite Eight caliber squad with its burn offense, but will face a team that it simply doesn't match up well against.
After struggling last year in a slower tempo, Baylor has excelled this year and has no issue operating its offense in a 60-possession game.
Old Dominion has a shot, right?
The Monarchs also caught a raw deal from the selection committee. They won a tough CAA league and have a win over Georgetown, but they drew Notre Dame, one of the hottest teams in the country, in the first round.
Old Dominion can rebound against anybody, if it can get past Notre Dame, the Monarchs could feast on the glass against a Baylor team that hasn't figured out how to rebound in the zone yet.
ODU is a stout defensive squad that could slow down Baylor enough that if it were to get extra chances on the offensive end, could spring an upset.
South Pod 4: Villanova, Richmond, Saint Mary's, and Robert Morris
Who has the best shot?
Villanova. Working on a common theme in Duke's Regional, the best seed in the pod has a pretty solid chance to get upset before the Sweet 16.
'Nova has struggled down the stretch as the Wildcats try to find the balance between speed and size.
That said, this overseeded team matches up well against both Richmond and Saint Mary's.
Richmond doesn't have the ability to go shot-for-shot during an entire game. Kevin Anderson and David Gonzalvez are great guards, but neither is overly efficient with the ball like Scottie Reynolds.
Saint Mary's has enough size to give Villanova problems, but doesn't get stops on a regular basis.
The Wildcats will torch SMC in transition, but also have the slashers and shooters to give Saint Mary's lackluster defense problems.
Of course, the same can be said on the opposite end as well. Saint Mary's shoots the ball so effectively that Villanova, who is not a good defensive field goal team, could have many problems guarding the Gaels.
West Pod 1: Syracuse, Gonzaga, Florida State, Vermont
Who should advance?
Syracuse (in theory). Arinze Onuaku likely won't play this weekend because of his bum quad, which means the Orange will be down to six men.
And no, DaShonte Riley doesn't count as a seventh man. In fact, if the unbelievable raw freshman plays, he will only detract from the rotation.
The Orange should get past Vermont (though don't be surprised if the 'Cuse have trouble with Vermont a la UConn-Albany), but the winner of Gonzaga/Florida State could cause problems.
Florida State has the size to exploit a missing Onuaku, but doesn't operate well enough offensively to be Syracuse's main threat.
Gonzaga, however, has the tools to knock off the Orange. With solid post play as well as capable shooters Matt Bouldin and Steven Gray.
The selection committee has a cruel sense of humor.
Not only did Syracuse get questionably sent to the west region, the 'Cuse must play a team that haunts the dreams of most Syracuse fans.
Vermont knocked the Orange off in the first round in 2005 with Gus Johnson on the mic. He'll be doing the same this Friday for a game that could offer a surprising result.
Without Arinze Onuaku in the Syracuse lineup, this Marqus Blakely-led Vermont team has a star that can at least give the Orange some trouble.
Also, SU's Kris Joseph has a brother who plays Division I basketball. Who does Maurice Joseph play for? Vermont, of course. Maurice is the Catamounts' second leading scorer.
West Pod 2: Vanderbilt, Butler, UTEP, Murray State
Who should advance?
UTEP? Butler? Vanderbilt? Murray State?!? This is the most wide open pod in the NCAA Tournament.
The fourth-seeded Commodores come into this tournament as the best offensive team of the pod that has everything: size, experience, and depth.
Vanderbilt has a great post player (AJ Ogilvy), guard (Jermaine Beal), gifted scorer (Jeffrey Taylor), and talented sixth man (John Jenkins).
Butler simply doesn't know how to lose anymore. A 20 game win-streak means Butler hasn't lost this decade. The Bulldogs plowed through the Horizon League with a stout defense and an above average offense.
Gordon Hayward is a star and so is Matt Howard when he's not in foul trouble.
The Miners have lost the Conference USA Championship game, but this team looks like it is poised to win several games in the NCAA Tournament.
Winning 16 games in a row in the C-USA is no easy feat (though after Memphis won 64, maybe it is) and the Miners look much better than earlier in the season, now that Derrick Caracter is fully incorporated in the rotation.
This pod is the king of the long winning streaks as the Racers had their own of 17 games. Murray State is the least accomplished team of this pod as the Racers' best win is probably actually a close loss to California.
Murray is the most balanced team in the country which makes it a tough matchup because opponents must stop all scorers instead of just one or two.
Take UTEP. The Miners are more athletic than the Bulldogs and should force Matt Howard into foul trouble. Vanderbilt has had troubles in the tournament in the past, so a UTEP trip to the Sweet 16 is brewing.
West Pod 3: Pittsburgh, Xavier, Minnesota, Oakland
Who will advance?
Xavier. The Musketeers are playing fantastic basketball since a pretty poor showing down in Orlando for the Old Spice Classic.
In fact, it's not really a stretch to say this Xavier team is one of the 15 or 20 best teams in the country.
No surprise after that statement that Xavier would be the pick to make the Sweet 16 out of this bunch.
Jordan Crawford is a deadly scorer and probably should have been the A-10 Player of the Year after a breakout conference campaign.
When in Orlando, coach Chris Mack told me that Crawford needed to take shots within the offense.
Mack said he didn't care how many shots Crawford took as long as they were apart of the offensive system. It's safe to say as Crawford's efficiency numbers increased that Crawford figured out his role.
Why not Pitt?
Jamie Dixon's club has had a fairy-tale season. The Panthers came out of nowhere to finish in the top quarter of the Big East.
But this team doesn't have the scoring punch and isn't quite good enough to win games against better teams solely on the defensive end.
Xavier presents the rare combination from an Atlantic 10 team of size and shooters and that combination will have the X-men in the Sweet 16.
West Pod 4: Kansas State, BYU, Florida, North Texas
Who should advance?
Kansas State. The Wildcats have the size and the guards to beat any team in this pod.
K-State wins games on the free throw line and offensive glass; with its athleticism, the Wildcats shouldn't have an issue getting to the charity stripe against any team in this pod.
Brigham Young wants home cooking.
The Cougars could potentially be a Final Four sleeper for one reason: If BYU reaches the Sweet 16, the Cougars will be playing virtual home games.
With the regional finals in Salt Lake City, BYU has extra motivation to make sure it reaches the Sweet 16.