Commentary

Wildcats (K-State and Villanova) enter Midwest play on a slide

Originally Published: March 17, 2008
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Andy Katz breaks down the four regionals. Check out his East, South and West breakdowns.

Midwest Regional


WHO'S HOT
No. 1 Kansas: The Jayhawks went to Texas A&M to close out the regular season and dispatched the Aggies. Then they cruised through the Big 12 tournament, culminating in a victory over Texas in the final. Kansas is rolling at the right time.

No. 9 Kent State: The Golden Flashes won the MAC regular-season and tournament titles, no small feat in a conference in which road wins are tough to come by.

No. 5 Clemson: The Tigers beat back Virginia Tech to close the regular season, crushed Boston College in the ACC quarterfinals, outlasted Duke in the semifinals and nearly caught up with North Carolina in the final.

[+] EnlargeStephen Curry
AP Photo/Mary Ann ChastainSharp-shooter Stephen Curry makes Davidson a dangerous 10-seed.

No. 3 Wisconsin: The Badgers won the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles. No matter what you think about the quality of the bottom of the Big Ten this season, that's still quite an accomplishment.

No. 10 Davidson: The Wildcats didn't lose a game to a Southern Conference team in the regular season or in the conference tournament. The only other team to do that this season was Memphis in Conference USA.

No. 14 Cal State Fullerton: The Titans have won 10 of their past 11 games, shared the Big West regular-season title with UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge, and won the Big West conference tournament title in nearby Anaheim.

WHO'S NOT
No. 11 Kansas State: The Wildcats lost by three to Texas A&M in the Big 12 tournament and had been on a skid at the end of the regular season, losing four of their previous six games.

No. 4 Vanderbilt: The Commodores are scorching hot in Nashville but have struggled away from home, losing in overtime at Alabama and twice to Arkansas in the past few weeks -- once in Fayetteville and over the weekend in Atlanta.

No. 12 Villanova: Against NCAA-like teams, the Wildcats have struggled of late, losing to Marquette, at Louisville and to Georgetown. The wins during that time came against South Florida, Providence on the road and Syracuse in the Big East tourney.

COACHING TEST
• USC's Tim Floyd has done a masterful job of playing junk defenses against opponents this season, and you can bet he'll have something for Kansas State's Michael Beasley in arguably the best first-round game of the tournament.

UNDER THE RADAR
• For the first time in years, Gonzaga is coming into the tournament without much fanfare. The Zags lost the WCC final at San Diego and got shipped to Raleigh to play in-state Davidson even though the Zags are the higher seed (No. 7). Davidson has had to work all season to climb back into the rankings (now 22nd).

MOST DESERVING COACH
• It's hard to argue against Lon Kruger, who went through heart bypass surgery over the summer, retooled a team that had its starting lineup gutted and coached UNLV to the Mountain West Conference tournament title.

CINDERELLA
• Unless Kent State pulls the shocker and upsets Kansas after first besting UNLV, the arrow points to Davidson. The Wildcats didn't lose in the SoCon but still aren't nationally known. Stephen Curry is a sensational guard and likely will follow his father, Dell, into the NBA. But a Davidson run into the Sweet 16 would constitute glass-slipper material.

CHALK
• The loss to Pitt in the Big East tournament title game put a bit of a damper on Georgetown's magnificent run to the Big East regular-season title. It also may have quieted talk of the Hoyas as a Final Four team. But the Hoyas have the talent and have had good fortune in late-game situations this season, so they could make a run. A No. 1 Kansas versus No. 2 Georgetown Elite Eight in Detroit would be a monster matchup.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com