Most Kentucky fans will tell you that the Cats always get the toughest bracket in the NCAA Tournament. There are years where it would seem that this is a true thought, there are years where that's not as true.
This year, there's the potential for some pretty wild and story-line driven matchups to be featured UK's region. Here is the wildest bracket I can imagine and why.
1. North Carolina
The Tar Heels are one of the best teams in the country again this season with several upperclassmen. The inside presence of UNC this season is what makes this match up particularly difficult for the Cats. Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson are both excellent low post players and would cause a major problem on the boards. Along with capable guards like Marcus Paige and Joel Berry it would be best for Kentucky to avoid UNC if possible. Also with the two schools not having an annual regular season meeting anymore it seems like something the bracket committee would do.
2. Michigan State
The Spartans are always a tough out in March with Tom Izzo on the bench. This season they also just happen to have, arguably, the best player in the country Denzel Valentine. Averaging 19.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 7.5 assists a game makes him a front-runner for national Player of the Year.
They are also a physical team which have given the Cats problems throughout the season. This year happens to fall on a year where these two didn't meet in the Champions Classic earlier in the year which increases the chances of this potential match up.
3. West Virginia
If Michigan State isn't the two seed in Kentucky's bracket look for Indiana to be in this position but it's unlikely for two Big Ten schools to be a 2 and 3 in the same bracket. West Virginia is a fast paced team who likes to press which is good for Kentucky since it's impossible to turn Tyler Ulis over. So why West Virginia? Kentucky has met the Mountaineers three times in the NCAA Tournament since Coach Cal has been head coach including last year's 78-39 beat down.
Currently in bracketology, this is the projected second round opponent for the Cats. This would be a huge second round matchup that could be a Final Four game if these two get better bracket draws. The Terps have a solid backcourt of Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon along with big Diamond Stone. For those that follow recruiting closely Stone sounds familiar because Kentucky was on his final list of schools.
Only Nigel Hayes returns from the key contributors in last year's Final Four matchup but the sting is still there for many Cats fans. Although this isn't a scary team for the Cats to play in the tournament and likely wouldn't happen anyways it's just something crazy that could bring last year back up to Kentucky fans.
7. Notre Dame
Another familiar foe from last season as the Cats took out the Irish in last year's Elite Eight. Notre Dame just knocked off Duke in the ACC Tournament and could be a sneaky team once the Big Dance kicks off next week. Zach Auguste is averaging a double-double this season and should be remembered for last season's attempt to guard Karl Anthony-Towns.
8. Wichita State
The Shockers and the Cats met in the 2014 NCAA Tournament and put on one of, if not the best, games I've ever seen (I'm 23). Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet are both still somehow in school there and bring a ton of tournament experience to a team that I'd imagine most one seeds would prefer to see in another bracket.
The Trojans have been sliding as of late but have some impressive wins this season and are quite talented. With six players averaging double digits they would be very difficult to prepare for on a short notice. Also, the bracket needed a west coast team and this seems most likely in this wild bracket.
The Bulldogs haven't been the cinderella team that they were with Brad Stevens on the bench but are still a solid team. They have only lost to teams this season that they were underdogs to other than perhaps Creighton and I'm sure they won't be an easy out.
Unlike most years the Zags had to win their conference tournament just to get a bid to the tournament most believe. This one is obviously because of Kyle Wiltjer and the unlikely chance of the two to meet up if the seeds are as Joe Lunardi has them.
Again this is Kentucky's projected 12 seed to play Maryland in the first round. The Ivy League champion is almost always underrated and gives someone a run for their money or even pulls the upset. So if Maryland is going to get upset it seems this would be the best out of the bunch and thus they make the wild bracket.
13. Northern Iowa
They upset North Carolina early in the season as the Tar Heels traveled to Northern Iowa. This could be a dangerous first round matchup for the Cats if for no other reason than the fact that they won't be afraid of the name on the jersey. This would be a decent matchup for the Cats however, in the sense that they aren't very big and depend on perimeter play as well.
14. Western Kentucky
They are currently projected out of the tournament but did just upset the one seed in the C-USA Tournament. None of the current 14 seeds jumped out so in the wild tournament there needed to be another Kentucky team involved.
15. New Mexico State
They are the only team on the 15 line that I believe has won an NCAA Tournament game in recent years. Also, they add another west coast team to complete that fulfillment.
16. Florida Gulf Coast
Dunk city is back in the NCAA Tournament and they must be put in the wild bracket. This is the current projected opponent for North Carolina as well
Comment with changes you think may be possible.
Go Big Blue.