In other second-round games, Big Ten regular-season champ Michigan will open against No. 15 seed Wofford of the Southern Conference; Duke will face No. 14 seed Mercer of the Atlantic Sun; Louisville will get No. 13 seed Manhattan from the MAAC; and No. 7 seed Texas will take on No. 10 seed Arizona State in a tantalizing Big 12-Pac-12 matchup.
The Midwest Region also includes two First Four games involving bubble teams: No. 12 seeds North Carolina State and Xavier will meet in Dayton, Ohio, for the right to face No. 5 seed Saint Louis, and No. 11 seeds Iowa and Tennessee will meet for a shot at No. 6 seed Massachusetts.
The seeding of Louisville (29-5) may have been the biggest surprise of the bracket, though, and the biggest reason why coaches were calling the Midwest the toughest of the four regions.
Many people thought the Cardinals had earned a second or third seed, and coach Rick Pitino - admittedly biased - thought his team had done enough to warrant a No. 1. After all, his team has won five straight and 12 of its last 13, including the American Athletic Conference tournament.
The NCAA selection committee thought differently.
“You look at the number four line and we have some great teams,” committee chairman Ron Wellman said. “We look at the total resume, though. Right now, if you ask anybody, Louisville is playing as well as anyone, and the committee certainly agrees with that. However, we look at the total body of work, comparing everything they did from November through March.”
Louisville spokesman Kenny Klein said that Pitino wouldn’t comment on the seeding. He had another reason to be miffed with the selection committee, too: Minnesota, the team coached by his son Richard, was among the last teams left hanging on the bubble.
Regardless, the Cardinals aren’t the only team hot team placed in the Midwest Region.