Monday, March 13, 2006

Preliminary Thoughts On The East

Washington, DC

I personally thought this bracket was a little stacked, especially since there were a couple of sleeper teams for this year - UNC and MSU - playing the second round, and oh yeah, it featured three of last year's Final Four teams. The pundits dismiss this bracket because they say UConn shouldn't lose to any of these teams, but I think if you switched Duke or Memphis into here, there'd be a lot more toughness talk.

While this bracket features the least-deserving - I won't call them the weakest, since they did beat fellow two-seed Texas by twenty - two seed in Rocky Top, they're solid 3- 6, with North Carolina, Illinois, Washington and Michigan State. The Volunteers seem to be spent, despite Coach Pearl's success last year, which seems to set up nicely for the Tar Heels/Spartans winner to face UConn in the Elite Eight. I feel dirty taking UConn so far when they don't seem to care or have a set go-to player (Williams, Gay and Brown all could be, none of them are yet), but Illinois and U-Dub don't pose that much of a threat to me, and UAB wouldn't have a prayer of running the Huskies off the floor.

First Round Fun:

This bracket is sort of boring on Day One, but...

Rocky Top vs. Winthrop - This is a reach, but Winthrop did win in Marquette and play both Alabama and Memphis tough. Still, they only beat Coastal Carolina by one in their championship game and don't seem to be ready for the speed Sweats McGee is going to unleash on them. Still, as the fourth game to be played Thursday afternoon, this one could be the game to get everything started.

Kentucky vs. UAB - I'm listing this only because it's a rematch of the 2nd round game in 2004. When you want to talk about unprepared for the pressure they're about to face, you might want to take a look at Kentucky....

Looking Ahead...

Washington vs. Illinois - Dee Brown and Brandon Roy will make this one an up-and-down affair, which would have heavily favored Illinois last year, but I think plays more into the Huskies hands now. Still, Washington hasn't faced nearly as tough of schedule down the stretch, and that could hurt them against the Illini.

UNC vs. MSU - Now this is what I'm talking about. The deal-breaker for so many brackets across the country who think that the winner of this game will knock off Rocky Top and whoever remains from the top of the bracket. Of course, anytime you get too excited about a second round game like this, one of two teams doesn't make it out. I don't think you'll have this problem here, as George Mason and Murray State wouldn't seem to present too much of a challenge.

Cinderella Rating (Or, The Potential for Complete and Total Bracket Chaos):

3, because while Rocky Top might get knocked off early or Shocked in the second round, the rest of the high seeds seem very, very solid for advancing.

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