Complete 2016 NCAA Tournament Preview: Breaking Down Every 1st Round Matchup, Most Likely Upsets, & More

The NCAA Tournament is finally here after four and a half months of basketball, and it will provide us with the three most exciting weeks on the sports calendar.

To help you fill our your bracket and give you all the information you need about the 68 teams competing for the National Championship, here are region-by-region breakdowns of every matchup, accompanied by full individual breakdowns for all 68 teams to help you fully understand everyone's strengths and weaknesses when filling out your bracket:
**Click on team name for full team breakdown**

South Region

1) Kansas Jayhawks (30-4)
16) Austin Peay Governors (18-17)

Kansas hasn't lost a game since January and are the top overall seed in the tournament. They will have no trouble blowing past Austin Peay and are one of the favorites to win the national title. One overlooked fact about the Jayhawks is that they've been upset in the second round each of the last two years with essentially the same team they have now, which could be an indicating factor of how they'll perform later in the tournament. 

8) Colorado Buffaloes (22-11)
9) UConn Huskies (24-10)

UConn locked up a tournament berth by winning the AAC Tournament, and they should keep the momentum going by winning this game. Colorado's offense is average at best, and they don't have the overall versatility to keep up with UConn's stellar three guard lineup. Expect the Huskies to advance before falling to Kansas - though they'll make it a very, very interesting game.

5) Maryland Terrapins (25-8)
12) South Dakota State Jackrabbits (26-7)

Maryland is an interesting case. They have the talent to beat anyone and make a long run, but they haven't been able to put all of the pieces together yet for some reason. The Terps could be the surprise of this year's tournament - or they could lose to South Dakota State's excellent shooting team. 

However, Maryland has won their last 14 first round NCAA Tournament games, and that kind of experience will help them win this game. I think it will spearhead a long run, as they're my pick to win the national title.

4) Cal Golden Bears (23-10)
13) Hawaii Warriors (27-5)

Cal has two of the best freshmen NBA prospects in college basketball in forward Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb, but the Golden Bears prefer to play a slower, more methodical halfcourt game. Hawaii is the complete opposite, using a team full of long, athletic players to push the tempo at every possibility.

Cal is a team that can be sped up easily, and Hawaii will do that while forcing them into a lot of turnovers. Forward Stefan Jankovic has the size (6'11") to matchup up with both Brown and Rabb, and his athleticism will give them a lot of problems. Look for the Rainbow Warriors to pull out a close victory.

6) Arizona Wildcats (25-8)
11) Vanderbilt Commodores/11) Wichita State Shockers

Both Vandy and Wichita State have multiple NBA players on their roster, and both will provide Arizona with a tough test. However, this is the best offensive team Arizona has had under head coach Sean Miller, which is why they'll beat either the Commodores or the Shockers.

3) Miami (FL) Hurricanes (25-7)
14) Buffalo Bulls (20-14)

Miami is one of the best all-around teams in the country that no one really talks about, and that balance should lead to a long tournament run for them. That will start with a win over a Buffalo team that is a horrible three-point shooting squad (230th in country).

7) Iowa Hawkeyes (21-10)
10) Temple Owls (21-11)

Iowa is a team that is absolutely stumbling into this tournament, losing six of their last eight games, and I expect their struggles to extend into postseason play. Temple has impressive wins over UConn, Cincinnati, and SMU, and nearly pulled off wins over Butler and Villanova. The Owls are a well coached team that won't beat themselves, and they'll be motivated to get another showdown with Villanova in the second round. Given the Hawkeyes recent struggles, I expect Temple to play like the more inspired team and pull off the upset.

2) Villanova Wildcats (29-5)
15) UNC Asheville Bulldogs (22-11)

Villanova is desperately looking to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009 after being upset in the second round as a top two seed each of the last two years. Iowa or Temple may cause them some problems - especially the Owls - but they'll be able to get by UNC Asheville in a blowout.

Also Read:
5 Most Likely Upsets In The First Round Of The NCAA Tournament
3 Double-Digit Seeds Most Likely To Make The Sweet 16
5 Unkown College Basketball Players Who Will Become Superstars In The NCAA Tournament

West Region

1) Oregon Ducks (28-6)
16) Holy Cross Crusaders/16) Southern Jaguars

Oregon has been on absolute fire recently, winning the Pac-12 Tournament with a 31-point win over Utah, and their dominant offense (11th in offensive efficiency) will help them make a long run. Neither Holy Cross or Southern has a chance to beat them.

8) St. Joseph's Hawks (27-7)
9) Cincinnati Bearcats (22-10)

Cincinnati is a tough, gritty, defensive-minded team, but St. Joe's is a well-coached all-around team that is peaking at the right time by winning at Atlantic 10 Tournament. Look for the Hawks to keep the momentum going by taking advantage of Cincy's offensive struggles.

5) Baylor Bears (22-11)
12) Yale Bulldogs (22-6)

Yale's in the tournament for the first time in 54 years, but they don't have the size or athletes to compete with Baylor. The Bears have a proven track record this season, beating Texas, Iowa State, and Vanderbilt this year. Look for them to make a Sweet 16 run.

4) Duke Blue Devils (23-10)
13) UNC Wilmington (25-7)

Both teams play small, four-guard lineups, giving the advantage to the team with more talent, which is Duke. Expect stars Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram to have big games while leading the Blue Devils to a comfortable win.

6) Texas Longhorns (20-12)
11) Northern Iowa Panthers (22-12)

Northern Iowa is an excellent defensive team, giving up just 63.2 points per game, but Texas has a knack for winning big games (Oklahoma, Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa State). The Longhorns will overpower UNI with their athleticism and have the potential to make a Sweet 16 run.

3) Texas A&M Aggies (26-8)
14) Green Bay Phoenix (23-12)

Green Bay wins games by forcing turnovers - Texas A&M starts two point guards who don't turn the ball over. The Aggies will be able to navigate Green Bay's press with ease and dominate them on the post, leading to an easy win.

However, Texas A&M has been known to struggle away from home (9-7 in road/neutral site games), and that will keep them from making a long run through the region.

7) Oregon State Beavers (19-12)
10) VCU Rams (24-10)

VCU's pressure defense is known for giving teams fits in the tournament, and the Beavers have struggled against guard-oriented teams this year, having double-digit losses to Oregon, USC, UCLA, Arizona State, and Valpo on their resume. Point guard Gary Payton II is one of the best players in the country you may not know much about, but his supporting cast is still inconsistent. I expect VCU's tournament experience to be the difference in this one.

2) Oklahoma Sooners (25-7)
15) CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners (24-8)

Oklahoma has been one of the best teams in the country all year because of their veteran team and the play of National Player of the Year favorite Buddy Hield, who has made them a Final Four favorite. Expect them to advance very far in the tournament.

East Region

1) North Carolina Tar Heels (28-6)
16) Florida Gulf Coast Eagles/16) Fairleigh Dickinson Knights

North Carolina started the season as the No. 1 team in the country and have been a top 10 team all year, and they'll win this matchup with ease. They have excellent size, leading all major conference schools in points in the paint and are 14th in the country in rebounding, which is why they've been so successful and many expect them to make a long run.

However, they have a huge Achilles heel in their outside shooting. They shoot just over 31 percent from distance as a team, and that has caused them to lose early in the NCAA Tournament each of the last two seasons. I think that will keep them from reaching the Final Four again this year.

8) USC Trojans (21-12)
9) Providence Friars (23-10)

USC plays a very fast-paced, up-tempo style of play, but that plays right into Providence's hands. The Friars have better guard play, led by star point guard Kris Dunn, and big man Ben Bentil is an athletic menace with three-point range. Look for those two to lead Providence to a win. 

5) Indiana Hoosiers (25-7)
12) Chattanooga Mocs (29-5)

Indiana is one of the best offensive teams in the country, headlined by star point guard Yogi Ferrell, and they used that to win the Big Ten regular season title. Chattanooga is an experienced team, beating the other mid-major schools they play because of their high execution rate and very high talent level. However, the Hoosiers have better players and execute their offense to perfection.

The Mocs will keep this one close, but Indiana will win.

4) Kentucky Wildcats (26-8)
13) Stony Brook Seawolves (26-6)

Stony Brook's Jameel Warney is perhaps the best player you've never heard of, but the Seawolves rely almost exclusively on him for their offense. Kentucky has finally started to play like the Kentucky team we've come to expect from them, winning 10 of their last 12 games, and are extremely dangerous due to their wealth of NBA talent. Don't be surprised if this game is just the start of another Final Four run for the Wildcats.

6) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (21-11)
11) Michigan Wolverines/11) Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Both Michigan and Tulsa have had major struggles beating good teams this year, and Notre Dame has not. All three are perimeter-oriented teams, but the Irish are so much better at running that system, ranking fifth in the country in offensive efficiency. Don't expect Notre Dame to have a problem dismantling whoever wins their First Four matchup.

3) West Virginia Mountaineers (26-8)
14) Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (27-5)

Stephen F. Austin head coach Brad Underwood started his career as an assistant for West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins, so as you might expect, these teams are very similar. That's bad news for the Lumberjacks because no one does the full-court press style of defense better than "Press Virginia", who leads the country in steals. Mark this as a win for WVU.

7) Wisconsin Badgers (20-12)
10) Pittsburgh Panthers (21-11)

Both of these teams are gritty, tough, defensive-minded teams first, but Wisconsin is the much better offensive team. Pitt simply won't be able to keep up with the Badgers (who have won 11 of their last 14 games) on the scoreboard.

2) Xavier Musketeers (27-5)
15) Weber State Wildcats (26-8)

Xavier is perhaps the most balanced team in the country, using stingy defense and a versatile offensive game to emerge as one of the country's elite teams. I consider them to be a lock to reach the Sweet 16, and they could easily make the Final Four. Weber State won't give them much of a contest.

Also Read:
5 Most Likely Upsets In The First Round Of The NCAA Tournament
3 Double-Digit Seeds Most Likely To Make The Sweet 16
5 Unkown College Basketball Players Who Will Become Superstars In The NCAA Tournament

Midwest Region

1) Virginia Cavaliers (26-7)
16) Hampton Pirates (21-10)

This might be the best team head coach Tony Bennett has had at Virginia. They are still arguably the best defensive team in the country, but their offense has gotten so much better behind the play of star guards Malcolm Brogdon and London Perrantes. UVA seems to have an easy road to the Elite 8, but could go further.

8) Texas Tech Red Raiders (19-12)
9) Butler Bulldogs (21-10)

These two teams couldn't be more different: Butler is a guard-oriented team full of shooters, and Texas Tech has a deep roster full of athletes. The deciding factor will be who plays better on the big stage, and that favors the Red Raiders. Butler hasn't beaten a ranked team since December, while Texas Tech beat Iowa State, Baylor, and Oklahoma in February.

5) Purdue Boilermakers (26-8)
12) Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans (29-4)

Purdue is coming off a run to the Big Ten Conference Tournament title game, but they've been inconsistent all season due to lackluster guard play. On the other hand, Little Rock has an excellent, experienced backcourt. Guard play and defense are usually the two determining factors in NCAA Tournament games, and with Little Rock ranking third in the country in points allowed per game, they have the advantage in both areas. The edge goes to the Trojans.

4) Iowa State Cyclones (21-11)
13) Iona Gaels (22-10)

Iowa State likes to play a fast, up-tempo game with a small lineup. Iona does too, but they play it with a smaller and faster lineup. Led by senior guard A.J. English (son of former NBA player Alex English), the Gaels use a four-guard lineup that usually wants to take a shot in 15 seconds or less. This will be the highest scoring game in the first round, and though that's how Iowa State wants to play, they are less equipped to do so. They get worn down easily in fast-paced since they use a seven-man rotation - Iona will take advantage of that and pull out a close victory late.

6) Seton Hall Pirates (25-8)
11) Gonzaga Bulldogs (26-7)

Gonzaga got off the bubble by winning the WCC Tournament, but they are at a major disadvantage in this game. Other than Domantas Sabonis (who is an excellent player), the Bulldogs are a perimeter-oriented team - but Seton Hall has much, much better guards, led by budding star Isaiah Whitehead. The Pirates will be able to exploit Gonzaga's lack of athleticism to get to the lane with ease, resulting in a win for the Pirates.

3) Utah Utes (26-8)
14) Fresno State Bulldogs (25-9)

Utah's defense has been their calling card under head coach Larry Krystkowiak, but they've become a very good offensive team this year, ranking 11th in the country in shooting percentage. On the other hand, Fresno struggles offensively, but is excellent on defense and at forcing turnovers. Guard play will be the difference in this one, and the Utes have the better backcourt.

7) Dayton Flyers (25-7)
10) Syracuse Orange (19-13)

Dayton doesn't have a starter that is taller than 6'6" - Syracuse's starting point guard, Michael Gbinije, is 6'7". The size difference between these two teams will be a major factor in this one, and that favors the Orange.

2) Michigan State Spartans (29-5)
15) Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (24-9)

Michigan State has emerged as a Final Four favorite after winning 13 of their last 14 games and the Big Ten Tournament, and Middle Tennessee simply doesn't have the firepower to match them. As is usually the case with the Spartans, expect them to make a very long run. 

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