March Madness Initial Reactions

Well, for me, Selection Sunday this year wasn’t as painful as it was last year. We all know that. Now, I’m not filling out a bracket again this year. I boycotted last year because of the Syracuse snubbing and I figured out how great it was to casually watch these games without caring who won and who lost. I could watch the games as a casual fan. I didn’t have to worry about researching teams and figuring out who would win. All I do now is relax and hear everybody else worry about this madness. Anyway, I still have some initial thoughts on the bracket and what could materialize.
EAST REGION
#1unc.gif
UNC obviously has the upper hand in the region because it will play its games in Raleigh and then Charlotte before the Final Four. If you watched the ACC Tournament, then you know that Tar Heel fans travel very well and will create a huge home court advantage for UNC. The proximity of the venues to Chapel Hill makes UNC an obvious pick for the final four.

#12george-mason.gif

I really think the Irish need to be careful. George Mason is a very dangerous team with a good inside/outside game and are led by a stud in Folarin Campbell. Will Thomas can hold his own on the inside against Luke Harangody and Dre Smith is a three-point assasin. The Irish obviously don’t like playing away from the Joyce Center and if they are cold from the outside, look for the Patriots to upset Notre Dame and possibly get to a 2006 rematch with UNC in the Sweet 16.
#11saint-josephs.gif
If you’re looking for an upset, watch out for Saint Joseph’s. They are a very experienced team that can beat a young Oklahoma squad. I doubt they will be able to get by Louisville in the second round, but a first round upset is possible.
#3 louisville.gif
I wish this team didn’t get paired with UNC in North Carolina and Tennessee because I think this team is a Final Four caliber team. They’ve been playing great of late despite the loss to Pittsburgh, who did win the whole tournament. But it would be an interesting matchup with Tennessee because the Volunteers are an up and down team that has already shown they can beat a grind it out team in Memphis. However, if this Cardinal team got to face UNC, I think they could give them trouble with the press like Clemson
#7 butler.gif vs. #10 south-bama.gif
First off, I don’t think South Alabama should be in the tournament. But they are, so let’s delve into the matchup. Butler is ranked #10 in the nation, but find themselves as a 7 seed. I think they could be one or two higher, but this team plays in the Horizon and lost its bracket buster to Drake, so its resume is nothing special. However, I think Butler’s experience will prevail in this game with Guards A.J. Graves and Mike Green, but we’ll see exactly what this South Alabama team is about.
#2 tennessee.gif
It’s weird to see the best #2 seed paired with the #1 overall seed and possible the best #3 seed. It makes this bracket extremely deep with three teams very capable of reaching the Final Four. Tennessee is a very versatile team that is led by a great core of Tyler Smith and Chris Lofton. If the tournament is really a time where stars shine, then Chris Lofton will go out with a bang.
MIDWEST REGION
#1 kansas.gif
JJ really hates this team because of its tendency to fall short in big games, but I really like the Rock Chalk Jayhawks. They are deep, versatile, balanced and experienced with that elite 8 run last year. I look for this team to walk through to the elite 8 and finally break through to the Final Four.
#8 unlv.gif vs. #9 kent-state.gif
I love both of these teams. The winner of this game will most likely lose to Kansas, but I wouldn’t be surprised if either one does give the Jayhawks a run for its money. However, this is such an intriguing matchup because both mid-majors are very good. UNLV is very experienced. Watch out for the junior star, Wink Adams. He knows how to score as he led the Running Rebels to the Mountain West Title. Kent State is a team capable of running with a mid-major as we saw with its upset of Saint Mary’s.
#5 clemson.gif
Can this team hit free throws? There is no doubt that this team is extremely talented and capable of making a deep run into the tournament, but late in games, free throw shooting will be critical. Memphis has showed that a team can overcome poor free throw shooting, but Clemson is no Memphis. The FT shooting will separate the Tigers from being an elite 8 team.
#6 usc.gifvs. #11 kansas-state.gif
This team has some serious upside. They are very young and inexperienced, but what a matchup this is with Michael Beasley and Kansas State. Kansas State can hang with the best of them, but haven’t recently losing six of its last nine games. I like USC in this game, but look for either of these teams to make a run into the tournaments second weekend.
#7 gonzaga.gif vs. #10 davidson.gif
Remember when Gonzaga was everybody’s trendy pick to pull off upsets and make a Cinderella run in the tournament. Well this year, Gonzaga is the favorite being hunted by everybody’s trendy pick in Davidson. I don’t question the talent of Davidson, but I do question the experience and ability of the Wildcats to pull out a close win over a quality opponents. Once again, don’t sleep on the Bulldogs. A very talent and well-coached team.
#2 georgetown.gif
No top team has played so many close games and won so many close games. People think Georgetown is very vulnerable and they are. But bottom line is that this team knows how to pull close games and that’s what matters come March. They have some potential roadblocks, but this team could easily get back to a 2007 rematch with UNC.
SOUTH REGION
#1 memphis.gif
What to expect from this team? They struggling shooting the basketball and shooting free throws. But this team is freakishly talented and athletic. I look for this team to barrel through teams to the elite 8, but can this team get over the hump? They have the talent to do so. Some people are picking Texas out of the region, but they frankly don’t have the athleticism to match up. Not many teams do.
#12 temple.gif
What happens when you have a streaking team vs. a team that doesn’t like to play on the road? An upset. I can see that happening in this one because of Temple’s great guard play. They are led by stud Dionte Christmas and senior Mark Tyndale. Watch for that duo to wreck havoc on Michigan State.
#4 pitt.gif
Man, even Bob Knight is on this teams bandwagon, picking this team to get to the NCAA Finals. Well, I’ve never been on this teams bandwagon because it comes up short in the NCAA tournament. They lack a true star, but I give credit for them winning the Big East. I still don’t think this team can get any farther than the sweet 16 when they play Memphis. However, don’t sleep on Oral Roberts, Temple or Michigan State before the Panthers run into the second weekend.
#7 miami.gif vs. #10 saint-marys.gif
To me this game is almost a toss up. I feel that most people like Saint Mary’s, but the Gaels don’t like playing on the road. Miami was playing extremely well before falling to Virginia Tech.
#2 texas.gif
Can you believe that this team lost Kevin Durant and is much better? I can. A.J. Abrams and D.J. Augustin are absolutely studs. Great Guard play wins in March and this team definitely has it. I mean how many teams can say they have wins over Kansas, UCLA and Tennessee. Those are three top 2 seeds in the tournament. When it comes down to it, I think many people are expecting this team to get to the Final Four, but I wouldn’t write off Memphis that fast. However, I do love this Texas team.
WEST REGION
#1 ucla.gif
This team might have the easiest road to the Final Four out of any number one seed. I love this teams inside/outside combination with Kevin Love and Josh Shipp, Russell Westbrook and Darren Collison. I see them having no problem until maybe UCONN and I think West Virginia or Duke would have a tough time matching up with them. Easy road for the Bruins.
#5 drake.gif
I still don’t know why Drake’s Bulldog is humping the D. Otherwise, I really like this Drake squad. All Five players can shoot the ball and I think that can really spread teams like Connecticut out in a second round matchup.
#4 connecticut_logo_2003.gif
Ever since Jerome Dyson came back to this team, this team has struggled. The biggest difference is the fact that this has completely forgot out to rebound the basketball. It’s hard to imagine because of Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien, but if this team starts to rebound again, they could very well be sweet 16 bound and poised to pull off an upset over the Bruins.
#3 xavier.gif
This team managed to get a three seed despite losing to Saint Joseph’s twice in a week and a half. This team thrives on the play of standout Drew Lavender and fellow guard Stanley Burrell is a solid player who can lock down defensively. I look for Xavier to get to the sweet 16 and I would not be shocked at all if this team got to an Elite 8 matchup with UCLA. I don’t see Georgia or Purdue/Baylor being a problem
#14 georgia.gif
This team isn’t playing any more mediocre teams in the SEC. It’s time for this team to play a real team and Xavier will show Georgia that its run in the SEC was nothing but a fluke.
#7 west-virginia.gif vs. #10 arizona.gif
What a matchup. West Virginia and Joe Alexander are hotter than any team in the nation and Arizona received a very questionable bid into the tournament. However, Arizona is a completely different team with freshman Jerryd Bayliss. I look forward to this game because some people are picking West Virginia to go to the Elite 8. Can this team repeat its magic from two years ago? I think Arizona can ruin some peoples brackets.
#2 duke.gif
I think if this Duke team shoots the ball well then they will be a tough out for any team in the country. They have great guard play and can really spread the floor with five shooters. However, that is if this team shoots the ball well. We saw how vulnerable this team is when they don’t shoot well versus North Carolina. Coach K (I’m not gonna try to spell his name or even look it up) is one the greatest coaches of all-time and he’ll have his team motivated after last years debacle. Look for DeMarcus Nelson to really step up.
More March Madness to come. On Monday, I’ll have my 3 teams most likely to pull off first round upsets. On Wednesday, I’ll have my 5 must watch games for the first round and we’ll have a first round podcast up by Wednesday as well.
Enjoy
Aneesh
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