March Madness

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Mar 062006
 
Authors: Brett Okamoto

Final Four

You can already hear Dickie V's voice, "This is college hoops baby, this is what it's all about! How bad do they want it? This guy's a prime time player, a Diaper Dandy!"

Easy, Dick. I'll make this easy on you and tell you who will emerge from the rubble right now.

UConn is a lock. They could have Duke, Memphis, Villanova and the Denver Nuggets in their bracket and still make it out alive. And they almost do. UConn will have to battle with the likes of Florida, Gonzaga and giant killer North Carolina in the best bracket this year. But it doesn't really matter. The Huskies will cruise to the Four, no problem.

Memphis is the weakest No. 1 seed of them all, but who's going to topple them in this bracket? Pittsburgh and George Washington are overrated. Oklahoma…sucks. UCLA and Ohio State are quality teams, but they're not Final Four material. Memphis gets to play in the semis by default. Thanks to the selection committee for making this bracket about exciting as that Bob Knight reality show.

Illinois is dangerous with a capital DEE. Bruce Weber has the Fighting Illini playing better than anyone expected and poised to make a deep run into the Madness. Point guard Dee Brown has the ability to drain the three, drive the lane and drop a Nash-ty looking dime at any point in the game. He's underrated, even with the share of hype he gets.

Michigan State has been disappointing all season, including a loss to lowly Minnesota in the latter part of the season. But you can't deny the fact they have three players who can go off for 20-plus on any given night. Team leader Maurice Ager has recovered from his mid-season shooting slump and Tom Izzo knows how to prepare a team for March.

Sleeper

If you want a Cinderella team, look no further than the SEC's Arkansas. The Razorbacks have quietly eliminated some of the country's best. The thing I like the most about this team though is that they know how to play in a close one. They beat Kansas by one, Alabama by two, Florida and Tennessee by four and lost to No. 3 seed LSU by a single point. Problem? Their bench averages lots of minutes, few points.

Bust

I have two quick ones.

Pittsburgh can't win on the road (five of their six losses were away games). So unless they move the Madness to their arena, they might be in trouble.

And finally, those losers down in Texas. Most hyped game of the year at your own place, (Duke vs. Texas) and you lose by 31. Don't worry though, that 17-point loss to Tennessee the following week really helped you save face. Later, Longhorns.

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March Madness

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Mar 062006
 
Authors: Scott Bondy

Generally speaking, bracketologists are completely full of it. And that makes us no different. Plus, the official brackets are not out, so this was pretty tough to handle. Based off ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi's bracket, we made the following predictions. Our apologies go out to Duke and Texas-the preseason No. 1 and No. 2 teams.

The Final Four

Drum-roll please… UConn, LSU, Ohio State and Villanova. Let's face it, anything can happen but these shouldn't be huge surprises to anyone who has watched college ball this year.

UConn- I need not say anything about the Huskies, they speak for themselves. They offer the kind of depth that North Carolina had in last year's championship run. Everyone on the UConn team may find themselves on an NBA roster next year. They have guard play and big men, what else is there? Nothing, except the championship ring to go with them.

LSU- The Tigers have two big men that can throw down with the best of them. That should create plenty of match-up problems along their trek to the Final Four. The SEC may not offer the best competition but they play with unparalleled athleticism in the South.

Ohio State- Key wins versus Illinois, LSU and Wisconsin make the Buckeyes a dangerous team. They're out-of-conference schedule was weak, so it should be interesting to see how they do. Their guards stick out, and strong guard play takes teams deep into March.

Villanova- A great team that can hurt anyone with any of their starters. Their backcourt is arguably the best in the country, and they have proven themselves, winning five games against ranked opponents. Nova is a hard team to figure out, and I don't think anyone will until there are only four.

Sleeper Team

Kansas- Typically not a sleep team, the Jayhawks started the year extremely rocky, losing three of their first five games. But they've finished strong, winning 13 of their last 14. Kansas is just a great tourney team and they have strong momentum. It's hard to argue against those two factors. Although young, comprised of mostly freshmen and sophomores, they display an athletic and fast style of play. Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk.

Bust Team

Gonzaga- The Zags have been a huge disappointment to me this year. No longer the Cinderella story, they really aren't fun or exciting to watch. They barely escaped their horrifically easy conference schedule. I see a second round exit in their future.

Duke- It appears the Blue Devils live and die by J.J. Redick. He played horrible against North Carolina and the Devils lost at home on Senior Night. Who would've thought? Why they don't work the ball down to Sheldon Williams more often is another wonder. Duke will make it to the Elite 8 but forget about anything more.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm