Iowa State's Nick Weiler-Babb talks about getting ready for the NCAA Tournament and playing Ohio State. Tommy Birch, firstname.lastname@example.org
The best 30 minutes in sports — otherwise known as the Selection Sunday show — has come and gone. The field of 68 teams is set, and we know which eight teams will be playing in Des Moines this week, beginning Thursday:
No. 7 Louisville vs. No. 10 Minnesota, 11:15 a.m.
No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 15 Bradley, roughly 1:45 p.m.
No. 7 Nevada vs. No. 10 Florida, 5:50 p.m.
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 15 Montana, roughly 8:20 p.m.
Now, let's break it all down. Here are some thoughts on what might unfold at Wells Fargo Arena.
The Pitinos vs. The Cardinals
In terms of off-the-court intrigue, there's no game more appealing than Louisville vs. Minnesota.
Think about it: Louisville fired Rick Pitino more than a year ago as the FBI's investigation into college basketball was just beginning to rock the sport to its core. Rick's son, Richard Pitino, is Minnesota's head coach. The elder Pitino's $38.7 million lawsuit against Louisville for breach of contract is still pending. Louisville responded by countersuing Pitino.
So, you'd better believe the entire Pitino family will be dressed in maroon and gold when the Gophers try for the upset on Thursday.
No shortage of Big Ten flavor
Minnesota, Michigan and Michigan State will give Des Moines a heavy Big Ten presence this week. Expect good turnouts from the three fan bases.
The drive from Ann Arbor/East Lansing/Detroit to Des Moines is about 8-9 hours. From Minneapolis to Des Moines, it's just 3 1/2 hours.
That begs the question: Why did Minnesota, a No. 10 seed, get such a favorable draw?
The other two No. 10 seeds not in Des Moines are Iowa and Seton Hall. It makes sense why the Hawkeyes didn't get placed in Iowa's capital city. Seton Hall, a private school in South Orange, New Jersey, was assigned to Jacksonville, Florida.
South Orange to Jacksonville is 930 miles. South Orange to Des Moines is 1,100 miles.
Minneapolis to Jacksonville is 1,500 miles. Minneapolis to Des Moines is 250 miles.
So, just looking at the numbers, if the goal isn't to reward a No. 10 seed with a favorable location, it may have made more sense for Minnesota to go to Jacksonville and Seton Hall to Des Moines.
Also, the committee says it tries to avoid pitting conference foes against each other early in the tournament. Well, given the way it organized teams in Des Moines, Minnesota might play Michigan State in the second round.
If the committee had swapped Minnesota and Seton Hall, that wouldn't be an issue.
Seton Hall plays in the Big East, so there'd be no conflict with Michigan State or with the Missouri Valley Conference's Bradley. And, in Jacksonville, if Minnesota won its first-round game, it would face the SEC's Kentucky or the Southland's Abilene Christian.
Funkiest jump shot in the country
Midwest basketball fans might not have their engines revved by the Nevada vs. Florida matchup. But if you're interested in seeing the funkiest jump shot in college basketball, be sure to watch this game.
We're talking about Wolfpack senior Caleb Martin.
Martin kicks his right leg out when he rises for a 3-pointer. And this isn't a little flourish, either. This is a legitimate, would-trip-anyone-walking-by kick. Put that together with his lean-back, late release, and it's quite a sight to see. He lets the shot go right after his leg fully extends.
The thing is: It works. Martin shoots 34 percent from long range, and he's prone to getting fouled on 3-point attempts, thanks to his funky motion.
Any shots for a major upset?
Before UMBC shocked Virginia last year, a No. 16 over No. 1 upset had literally never happened. But No. 15 over No. 2 upsets are quite rare, too — those have happened only eight times.
Could it happen in Des Moines?
Michigan State vs. Bradley
Michigan State: 28-6, No. 8 in NET, No. 4 in Ken Pomeroy
Bradley: 20-14, No. 176 in NET, No. 165 in Ken Pomeroy
Listen ... miracles can happen, but we wouldn't advise banking on one here. Bradley upset its way through the MVC tournament as the No. 5 seed. It was arguably the Valley's hottest team at season's end, but teams as good as Michigan State definitely did not play in the Valley this year.
Michigan vs. Montana
Michigan: 28-6, No. 9 in NET, No. 5 in Ken Pomeroy
Montana: 26-8, No. 124 in NET, No. 137 in Ken Pomeroy
Although still improbable, this is the more likely of the two upsets. Montana was the Big Sky's regular-season and conference tournament champion. Montana boasts a strong program, and the Grizzlies have made a habit of winning a lot of games. They were also a combined 14-6 on the road and on neutral courts this year.
With that said, they lost to Arizona by 19 and to Creighton by 26 in nonconference play.
Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Iowa/Iowa State athletics and Drake basketball for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.