BRACKET OVERVIEW: Sets up well for a Duke-Texas rematch in the Elite 8. My big Cinderella pick was gonna be UNC-Wilmington....but they would get Duke in the 2nd round and I don't think they can handle that. It is a star-studded regional with JJ Redick, Sheldon Williams, Baby Davis, Gerry McNamara, The Pittsnogle, Leon Powe and LeMarcus Aldridge.
GOOD SEED: California. How are they a #7? Well, the did make a nice run to the Pac-10 title game...and possess one of the best players in the nation, Leon Powe.
BAD SEED: George Washington. Sure, the Colonels are missing one of their best players...but they have the least amount of losses than anyone in the NCAA and are ranked in the top 15 nationally.
BUBBLE BREATHER: Texas A&M. They snuck into the dance with a win at the buzzer over Texas last week....then played the Horns tough in the Big XII tournament this week. Oh, and that 33 point beatdown of Colorado was nice!
BEST UPSET POTENTIAL: NC State. Sure, they've played like dogs over the last month [um, it's been a month since they last won a gam] but this team is experienced and plays a style of offense that most teams don't see.
POSSIBLE CINDERELLA [not 1-4]: Syracuse. Heck, they won 4 games in as many days to win the Big East tournament....which they entered pretty much on the back side of the bubble. Maybe they can carry it over like last year's Big East spark-plug West Virginia did.
FIRST ROUND BREAKDOWN:
Duke over Southern. The #16 seed has never won. Maybe Redick can finally getsome rest. Or maybe K wants him to get the all time NCAA tournament scoring record or something.
UNC-Wilmington over George Washington. Wilmington is playing so tough right now and G Dub has been struggling without their Pops.
Syracuse over Texas A&M: Two of the hottest teams going right now. And both were bubble teams a fortnight ago.
LSU over Iona: Can Iona's backcourt have the game of their life to pass LSU? Could be a great upset pick. But not mine.
West Virginia over Southern Illinois: The Salukis are a great defensive team....and the Mountaineers are a big time offensive team. Should be fun! But I think that SIU won't be able to score enought to keep up.
Iowa over Northwestern State: Iowa is just too big for them. But, again, if those high scoring NW State guards go off.....it could be interesting.
California over NC State: Last year, NC State took this spot to the Sweet 16. They had Julius Hodge to carry them. Now, it's a balanced Princeton-style offense....but it hasn't been working of late. Cal is better than Wake Forest, and Wake has been murdering the Pack of late.
Texas over Penn: Penn is not a good 3-pt shooting team....something an upset minded #15 seed would need to pull this one off.
BRACKET OVERVIEW: Call this bracket "UConn & the Mirages". Why? Well, ya just don't know what you'll get. Michigan State disappointed....North Carolina surprised. Kentucky disappointed....Illinois surprised. This is a region filled with extreme bubble teams...and could be UConn's walk to Indy.
GOOD SEED: Tennessee. The Vols struggled down the stretch. In fact, why are they here?? They lost in the 1st round of the SEC tournament to a non-tourny school [South Carolina]. North Carolina...the #3 seed....lost in the 2nd round of the ACC tournament to Boston College, who is a #4 seed in this tourny.
BAD SEED: Winthrop. They'll play Tennessee in the first round. Winthrop is battle tested as any min-major can get. They've been in the tournament in 5 of the last 7 years. They return their top nine scorers from a team that took Gonzaga to the brink last March. They'll give the Vols everything they can handle. Heck, they're better than Air Force!
BUBBLE BREATHER: Air Force. Duh!! Most people are crying bloody murder that this team is even in the dance. And this is the bracket of bubble breathers. Utah State, who didn't even PLAY a team in the "BCS" conferences, made it in as well. As did George Mason, who lost twice to snubbed Hofstra in the final weeks of the season. And don't forget Seton Hall, who got in over fellow Big East-er Cincinnati.
BEST UPSET POTENTIAL: Murray State. This is a deep team with athleticism and discipline. They are also a great pressure defensive team that could give North Carolina and their turnover-prone freshmen fits in the 1st round.
POSSIBLE CINDERELLA [not 1-4]: Michigan State. Remember, last year Michigan State was a #5 seed that bulldozed their way to the Final Four. And last year they played a Colonial team in the first round [last year it was ODU, this year it is G-Mason]. If they can get by UNC in the 2nd round...they have every right to go ahead and win this thing.
FIRST ROUND BREAKDOWN:
UConn over Albany: Great year for Albany and a great opportunity to play on the biggest stage.
Kentucky over UAB: It could go either way, obviously, but I like the fact that Kentucky has been in a lot of tussles of late. But me and my wife's favorite player, Squeaky Johnson, is a Blazer!
Washington over Utah State: This will be one of those close games down the stretch. But the Huskies will live to see another day.
Illinois over Air Force: No offense, but the AFA shouldn't be here.
Michigan State over George Mason: I said this last year.....Tom Izzo gets his guys ready to play in these NCAA tournaments.
North Carolina over Murray State: The Racers are aptly named and will be right there at the half. But the Heels' and Psycho T will seperate from there.
Wichita State over Seton Hall: For the MVC's sake, I hope they win this one.
Tennessee over Winthrop: Yep, I am going with all the favorites in this bracket. But this game could be a doozy!
BRACKET OVERVIEW: While there are some great upset possibilities in the 1st round...it should be the 2nd round that will be the most interesting. G'town-Ohio State. Villanova-Arizona/Wisconsin. Boston College-Nevada. Florida-Oklahoma. Many people feel that this region could produce the surprise of the Final Four. Boston College is a trendy pick....as is Georgetown to make an Elite 8 appearance. But the top dawg is Nova....and how and if Allan Ray plays could be the difference in a strong run or a missed opportunity.
GOOD SEED: Nevada. I'm glad the committee did something right. Nevada is a legit team, and should be rewarded as such with this seeding. The Wolf Pack have every right to feel that they are one of the top 20 teams in this tournament.
BAD SEED: Monmouth and Hampton. These two will battle in the "play-in game" [the NCAA hates that it is called that...but when you seperate it from the rest of the tournament...that's what it is]. I find it a shame that they have to do this. Why not put Air Force and Utah State in this game?? I mean, why should automatic qualifiers have to be subjected to this. Put the bubbled at-large teams here.
BUBBLE BREATHER: Northern Iowa. Well, all of the MVC teams had their moments in the sun over the past month or so....and UNI's was after they beat Bucknell during Bracket Busters Weekend. And then did nothing much since. But UNI does have the best wins of any of the MVC schools [how's Iowa!]
BEST UPSET POTENTIAL: Wisconsin-Milwaukee Well, McCants [and coach Bruce Pearl] is gone from that great Sweet 16 team of a year ago...but left behind is a very capable team. And they got Oklahoma in the 1st round....and I consider them to be quite soft.
POSSIBLE CINDERELLA [not 1-4]: Georgetown. Like North Carolina and Florida State, the Hoyas were the only team to topple Duke this year. They are big everywhere and keep themselves around most games. If Ohio State sees them in the 2nd round...the Buckeyes could be in some trouble.
FIRST ROUND BREAKDOWN:
Villanova over Play in game: But what if they lost, eh?
Wisconsin over Arizona: The Cats have the ability to completely dog a game....and Wisconsin is the team to force them to do it. The Badgers have Elite8 experience and Lute has a history of getting bounced early.
Nevada over Montana: Two NCAA vets going at it....but Montana won't be able to contain Fazekas.
Boston College over Pacific: Same thing here. Pacific has beaten a Big East team in the first round the last couple of years. But, BC isn't in the Big East anymore...and Pacific lost a lot of guys from those teams.
Oklahoma over Wis-Milwaukee: I just have problems picking the Cinderella team the yaer after.
Florida over South Alabama: That Gators front line will create matchup problems for USA.
Georgetown over Northern Iowa: This should be a great game, but the Hoyas size gets them thru.
Ohio State over Davidson: I'll be rooting for the team from Charlotte...and they have a great shot to win this game. They fire away from behind the arc [a Cinderella staple] and they have a few guys that can play in the paint. But a 15 over a 2?? I'm not that stupid!
BRACKET OVERVIEW: Gotta love this bracket. Aside from Memphis and UCLA...every game has extreme upset potential. Remember that last year, this "west" regional produced a myriad of upsets in the first weekend that led to a Louisville-West Virginia regional final. The top seed, Memphis, wasn't even IN the dance last year. Teams like Indiana. Bradley and Xavier essentially played their way into the dance over the past 2 weeks. And then there is Gonzaga....to me the most over-hyped team over the last few years. But, they have the best player in the region and some guys that are capable of stepping into roles. If the Zags can hark back to their early season tough schedule experience...they could do damage. This should be a cool deal.
GOOD SEED: Gonzaga. I know that Seth Davis found it ridiculous that they weren't the "5th #1 seed" but they are in the right spot. Gonzaga hasn't played a real team in 2006. That's not a lknock on their ability [I still have them in the Final Four] but it's a fact that they've spent the last 2/3 of their season playing much inferior teams. And the committee put them in the right spot.
BAD SEED: Alabama: Not too bad, but I'd put them as a 9th seed over Bucknell.
BUBBLE BREATHER: Bradley: It's nice to know that their late season run mattered to the selection committee.
BEST UPSET POTENTIAL: Kent State: Weird, since you will see that I don't have them as my big upset in my picks....but Kent State is a MAC team and MAC teams do pretty well in the tournament. This isn't just some up and comer either.....they made that strong run in the dance a few years ago....and have eight straight 20-win seasons.
POSSIBLE CINDERELLA [not 1-4]: Pittsburgh: For the 2nd year in a row...I'm gonna thump the Panthers chest! Let's hope that this year I won't look like an idiot.
FIRST ROUND BREAKDOWN:
Memphis over Oral Roberts: ORU's Caleb Green may go off...but Memphis will advance.
Arkansas over Bucknell: Again with the Cinderella two years in a row thing. But if anyone can break that logic, it's the Bison. Those Hogs are just too tough.
Pitt over Kent State: Odd that my best upset potential team and my Cinderella team play in the opener.
Kansas over Bradley: Like UNC across the bracket, the young Jayhawks are clicking at the right time. But then, so is Bradley.
San Diego State over Indiana: I'm turnin' on the Hoosiers. But, Indiana is one of those teams that will play strong in the Big Ten tourny then lay an egg in the dance. Against a team that barely escaped the Mountain West tournament. Oh, wait....I forgot, the MWC is one of the top conferences, eh Selection Committee??
Gonzaga over Xavier: Xavier has absolutely nothing to play for. They were dead just a few days ago and ended up stealing a bid. So, let it go Muskies!! But the Zags are my Final Four pick.
Alabama over Marquette: If Bama can actually string two good halves together...they'd be dangerous.
UCLA over Belmont: Either way, the Bruins win.