Five questions about the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments

Who’s the men’s favorite?

Your guess is as good as ours. Houston was blown out in the Big 12 Tournament and Purdue lost in overtime in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. Defending champion UConn looked good beating Marquette so maybe go with the Huskies? Or just torch your bracket now.

Who’s the favorite in the women’s tournament?

South Carolina. Gotta be, right? The Gamecocks. Unless you like LSU. Or UConn. And Caitlin Clark can carry Iowa deep into the tournament, right? The depth is improving in the women’s tournament.

Do you really want a No. 1 seed in the men’s tournament?

Using last year’s tournament as a guide, no. Not that any of the No. 1s this year turned down those top spots, but, well, buyer beware. Typically, there are more upsets in the men’s bracket than the women’s. Those top seeds in the women’s game really separate themselves. Last year’s women’s Final Four had two No. 1 seeds, a No. 2 and a No. 3. Last year’s men’s Final Four had a No. 4 seed, two No. 5s and a 9 seed.

Any local teams to root for?

Illinois and Northwestern made the men’s tournament. Loyola had a good season but probably needed to win the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Instead the Ramblers lost their quarterfinal. The Illinois women looked like a good candidate in the preseason but did not live up to expectations.

Who are the players to watch?

You’ve probably heard a lot about Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, but there are other talents in both brackets. Terrence Shannon Jr. of Illinois is a freight train with the basketball in the open court. Zach Edey, Purdue’s 7-foot-4 center, is very tall but also very skilled. Don’t forget Kansas’ Kevin McCullar, Marquette’s Tyler Kolek, Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht and Duke’s Kyle Filipowski. Back to the women’s bracket, Kamilla Cardoso of South Carolina, UConn’s Paige Bueckers, Cameron Brink of Stanford, LSU’s Angel Reese and Aneesah Morrow, who’s from Chicago, and USC freshman JuJu Watkins are worth watching too.

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