CRAWFORD | Five thoughts on Louisville's NCAA Tournament draw


After losing three of their last five games, including a one-and-done defeat against Duke in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament Thursday, most predictions had them falling from a projected No. 2 seed to No. 3.

Coming into this season, like always, Tom Izzo's Spartans were expected to be one of the top teams in the conference and the country. I know he went to Kansas State and played for former Iba player Jack Hartman and he is from McPherson, Kansas, but two other former Oklahoma State coaches immensely popular with the Cowboy and Cowgirl fans are from Kansas. We're breaking down every first-round game in the field of 68, plus looking ahead at which teams will make the run to the Final Four. For the most part, the 21-11 Hurricanes beat teams worse than them and lost to teams better than them, with the worst lost of the season being a road game against bubble team Syracuse. It could be Purdue, it could be the Miami-Michigan State victor and it could be Michigan.

With Frank Mason and Josh Jackson, top-seeded Kansas has the star power any championship team needs. JaCorey Williams, Giddy Potts and Reggie Upshaw lead a Blue Raiders team with 30 wins and a taste for more upsets after beating Michigan State a year ago. Our gift to you, he provides knowledge you need: from who's hot to who's not; to key injuries, and interesting tips and anecdotes about the players and coaches. Still, their free-throw problems will lead to an NCAA early exit if they continue.

Iowa State PG Monte Morris: At a program that has had more than its share of great lead guards, Morris might be the best ever. Charles Barkley calls this "an upset in the making" for Nevada. "Half of our schedule was played against teams that are now competing in the tournament and we didn't lose to a team below 40 in the RPI (ratings percentage index)". The Wolf Pack made it largely thanks to a weak schedule.

There is no proof that Yamamoto actually uttered that line, but it fits, not a way, but a return of Oklahoma State basketball.

Beilein is guiding the Wolverines to the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time in his 10 seasons as head coach of the Wolverines, which includes an appearance in the national championship game in 2013. They meet in a First Four game on Wednesday night. Marcus Foster is averaging 18.3 points per game for the Blue Jays while Justin Patton is shooting almost 70 percent from the field.

Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State. We lose to IL it's a one possession game at the end. They've each erupted for 20-plus points and 15 assists in recent games, continuously improving as the stakes grow more important. Louisville averages 77.5 points a contest.

Donovan Mitchell, Louisville. Cardinals coach Rick Pitino says Donovan Mitchell is as good a defensive as offensive player.

No. 15 seeds has won just eight games in the history of the Tournament.

The talent is most definitely there, though.

Underwood also noted that, in addition to having similar strengths, both MI and Oklahoma State struggled earlier in the season before turning it on to close out the year. Syracuse gets in by the skin of their teeth and all of the sudden Michigan State, their next opponent, gets beat, gets upset. Bridges believes he can help change his hometown for the better, and he will. Look for him to make this regional his personal showcase.