Monday, March 13, 2006

Preliminary Thoughts On The Midwest


This was the last bracket to be announced, and as we pondered all of the teams that were left, we realized how stacked it was going to be. Boston College seems a little low at a 4 after their ACC tourney run, but they hadn't beaten anybody non-conference and weren't very highly regarded until the UNC win. Ohio State got some late momentum, Florida and Georgetown are both crazy talented and Arizona/Wisconsin is as sexy of a 8/9 game as you're going to get.

Villanova's run depends on a lot on Allan Ray's eyesight, but as I told Pocz earlier, I think he'd be 35% from three blind. Their guard play is reminscient of another Philly team rated number one, St. Joes in 2004, and I think they'll at least make it as far as that team did. Waiting for them in the Elite Eight could be any number of teams, but I'll take the Big East again, with Georgetown getting past Ohio State, who relies too much on the three, and Florida, who hasn't beaten anybody all year and seems ready for a nice little collapse.

My only problem with this prediction is that a lot of people are making it, citing the 1985 championship game rematch storyline as fun and exciting. Storylines like that never work out, and I think it'll be Georgetown who lets down. Maybe Florida cleaning house and giving the program young blood was the key, but it's been six years since Billy Donovan made a whole lot of noise. Fun bracket, other than the "Heh?" of Nevada getting a 5-seed.

First Round Fun:

Boston College vs. Pacific - Everyone's all geeked to have Boston College make a deep run because they finished so strong, but lets remember a few things: A) They didn't beat anybody non-conference, and since they were in the ACC, that means they didn't really beat anybody in the regular season and B) Pacific has knocked off a Big East team in the first round the last two years, and despite the fact BC is now in the ACC, they still have some of the Big East taint on them. This might bust some brackets wide open.

Oklahoma vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee - This is the annual "Yeah, nobody is surprised upset", in the same vein as Kent State over OK State and Manhattan over Florida. OU has stunk it up down the stretch, and despite their interior monster of Gray and Bookout, the Panthers will turn up the pace and give themselves a good chance to win.

Arizona vs. Wisconsin - Two Elite Eight teams from last year who took a step back this year. I'd give the edge to the Badgers, just because Big Ten trumps PAC-10 in most circumstances.

Looking Ahead...

Georgetown vs. Ohio State - While it may be unwise to overlook Northern Iowa, I think the Hoyas and Buckeyes have a date set for the weekend. The Hoyas will take away the three and Hibbert will manage to slow down Terrence Dials.

Villanova vs. BC - They played two close games last year, but that was when Sumpter was helping the Wildcats out inside. Guard play like Nova's is hard to find, and no matter how much terror Craig Smith and Jared Dudley wreck inside, nothing but a cold spell from three will keep Jay Wright's crew away from the Final Four.

Ciderella Rating (Or, the potential for complete and total bracket chaos):

5, because Florida, Nova, BC and Georgetown/OSU all look pretty solid for the Sweet Sixteen. That being said, a win by Wisconsin/Arizona, Pacific or Northern Iowa could throw a monkey wrench into a lot of brackets.

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