Keep looking at Michigan. The Wolverines use that 1-3-1 zone and have a crafty coach like John Beilein. Maybe, just maybe, Michigan can make some noise. It showed as much in early season wins against UCLA and Duke. The 1-3-1 zone defense is key. It pressures the ball, then backs off, pressures, then backs off. Michigan gave UConn a game on the road, too.
But the real underrated team is Gonzaga. The Bulldogs have a lot of skilled players, and they are no longer the lovable underdog, but a team loaded with height and scorers. The Zags will get into a regional semifinal with North Carolina and make the blue sweat a little. Gonzaga, not Syracuse or Oklahoma, is the region's second-most talented team.
How did Illinois stay as a No. 5 seed when a defensive-oriented team loses its defensive centerpiece in Chester Frazier? Bruce Weber says Frazier will be back for the NCAA tournament, but that may be a stretch. Frazier has a broken hand.
If Frazier doesn’t go, the Illini will be hurting as much as their star guard. It’s a pain to watch this team offensively, too.
Most likely upset
No. 12 Western Kentucky over No. 5 Illinois. A 5 over a 12 is the usual suspect, but it is especially true in this game with Chester Frazier’s hand in a wrap. Frazier is the catalyst for a team that lives on its defense. And don’t forget, WKU beat Louisville. That’s big, no matter when it happened. The other game to watch: Temple to beat Arizona State.
Clemson vs. Oklahoma. This is a chance for the ACC to show everyone else how strong the conference was this season. If a No. 7 seed like the Tigers can handle a No. 2 seed like Oklahoma, the ACC will pound its chest.
LSU and Butler is another game to watch. The Tigers were the SEC's best team; Butler is not as good as it was last year. If Butler beats LSU, we’ll know exactly how down the SEC was this season. The Bulldogs do not lose first-round NCAA tournament games.
It has to be Ty Lawson, the North Carolina point guard. If he is healthy, the Tar Heels should be the favorite to win the national championship. Carolina cannot win this regional without him because of the presence of Syracuse and Jonny Flynn, and Oklahoma and Blake Griffin.
North Carolina will beat Syracuse, the hot team, and win the regional. Lawson will get the Tar Heels all the possessions it needs in a fast game. He will help get Danny Green out of his shooting funk and Carolina will roll into Detroit.
I think the team to watch in all this is Clemson because it is well-coached, it can shoot, and it can apply some pressure. The Tigers can score in a lot of different ways and the Tigers will give Oklahoma, which is slumping, some trouble.