Purdue received the final one-seed over UCLA, but it otherwise wasn’t done any favors by the selection committee, given a dangerous second-round opponent, either No. 8 Memphis or 31-win Florida Atlantic, the ninth seed.
If No. 5 Duke gets through to the Sweet 16, the Garden will feel like Cameron Indoor Stadium North.
The bottom half of the bracket is fascinating.
Marquette, which just won the Big East Tournament at MSG, has the chance to get back there, while No. 3 Kansas State and dynamic Harlem point guard Markquis Nowell are favored to join the Wildcats.
Kentucky, the sixth seed, is also lurking as a potential sleeper.
Bracket Buster: No. 8 Memphis
Kendric Davis is one of the premier guards in the country, and the Tigers have proven themselves by beating the likes of Houston, Auburn, Texas A&M and VCU.
Their elite athleticism and guard play will pose a major problem for Purdue in the second round.
First-Round Upset Watch
No. 12 Oral Roberts over No. 5 Duke
Yes, Duke is playing very well, and is coming off an ACC Tournament crown.
That doesn’t change the fact the ACC was woeful this year.
Oral Roberts is better at both ends of the floor than it was two years ago when it reached the Sweet 16.
The Blue Devils may advance, but they will have to sweat to do so.
Best First-Round Matchup
No. 6 Kentucky vs. No. 11 Providence
Don’t tell me the selection committee doesn’t plan these things, pitting Providence star Bryce Hopkins against Kentucky, his former school.
The combo forward exploded under Ed Cooley after he was an afterthought in one season with John Calipari.
He’ll have a chip on his shoulder the size of a boulder for this meeting.
Unsung Player: G Max Abmas, Oral Roberts
Two years ago, the little guard led the Summit League champion to the Sweet 16, and he’s back to create even more March magic.
He’s improved as a playmaker since then while cutting down on his turnovers without losing his explosive offensive ability.
One of the must-watch players in this tournament.
Player to watch: F Keyontae Johnson, Kansas State
The 6-foot-6 wing enjoyed the best season of his career, setting personal bests in scoring (17.7) and assists (2.2), and that came after there was uncertainty if he would ever play again after collapsing two years ago this past December.
Diagnosed with myocarditis, he was placed in a medically induced coma for three days, and now Johnson is back at the top of his game.
The Post Pick: Kansas State
Don’t pick against the Big 12, not this year.
The league was too good.
Its teams will be too well-prepared after facing so many challenges.
Nowell adeptly handles the Marquette pressure in a classic Sweet 16 game and Johnson comes up big in an Elite Eight clash with Purdue, throwing down a monster dunk in the closing seconds over Boilermakers National Player of the Year favorite Zach Edey, the 7-foot-4 center.
It puts an emotional capper on the Wildcats’ memorable Garden party.
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