Monday, March 13, 2006

Preliminary Thoughts on The South

South (Atlanta)

Or, the Duke Invitational. I'm pretty sure this isn't my bias coming out when I say I thought this bracket looked pretty weak overall. The number two seed is an absolute joke in Texas, who played one of the worst big games I've seen against Duke earlier, and anyone who has them in the Elite Eight is either banking on a collapse from the Iowa/WVU winner (and yes, I know Texas already beat both of those teams) or Texas all of a sudden not sucking.

The top of the bracket is interesting, as my favorite mid-major team, the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks are a win over George Washington away from a inter-Carolina date with the Duke Blue Devils. Syracuse certainly is hot, but don't forget that A) A week ago they were a bubble team and B) They won the Big East tourney last year, with Hakim Warrick, and lost in the first round to the Catamounts. LSU has as good of a front-line as anybody in the country, but when half the pundits are talking about Iona beating them, I question. Plus, you can have as many big men as you want, but if your guard play isn't strong, you're done, as the Bayou Bengals found out last year when UAB ran them off the court.

I think TAMU will give Cuse some trouble, but the Orangemen will make it to the Sweet Sixteen, where they'll face a North Carolina team. McNamara will hit a three with the game tied, but on the last possession of the game, Eric Devendorf will foul either JJ Redick or TJ Goldsberry on a three, which they will make and hit the free thrown, advancing to the Elite Eight. There, they'll face the winner of the Iowa/WVU game, who I'm yet to decide on. I'm leaning towards West Virginia against UNC-Wilmington, and you may think I'm crazy, but I think I'm very much right.

First Round Fun:

California vs. NC State - A rematch of an 8/9 game a few years back that went to OT, where some British guy hit a three and won it for Cal. Try to find a team who ended the season on a bigger slide than NC State, and throw in Leon Powe and this is going to be ugly.

WVU vs. Southern Illinois - The Salukis have played teams tough but have came up on the short end after their Sweet Sixteen run in 2003. It'll be a close game against the Mountaineers, but I think they'll either get Pittsnogled or Ganseyed.

Syracuse vs. Texas A&M - Just seems Cuse could be primed for a letdown after emotional run. But then again, does Gerry McNamara look like he's ready to go home just yet?

Iona vs. LSU - Four senior starters and three players shooting over forty percent from three. LSU certainly has the size advantage, but this one could be fun. (Iona won at Ames and played well in Lexington. They won't be scared of the Tigers, that's for sure.)

Looking Ahead:

Duke vs. GW/UNC-Wilmington/Cuse/LSU/Iona... - Despite the fact Dill still claims they're a slam dunk to win the title, every game Duke plays after Southern is probably going to be close. They haven't dominated anybody in a while, and when you're playing a freshman point guard and only have two big men on your team you'd trust in a tournament games, things could get really sticky.

Iowa vs WVU - Clash of the White Men. Horner vs. Herber, Pittsnogle vs. Brunner and Alford vs. Beilein. The winner of this game will have a tough opponent in Texas awaiting, but would be very capable of getting to the Final Four.

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

6.5, for the fact Iona and UNC-Wilmington could be playing one another in the Sweet Sixteen and I wouldn't really be that shocked. The Salukis also linger as a threat, but have to knock off a tourney-tested WVU team. The odds of Penn beating Texas seem kinda low, and Iowa looks solid as the 3.

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