Tuesday, March 18, 2008

March Madness Preview


North Carolina has to be a prohibitive favorite to emerge from the East and make the Final Four. They have the benefit of playing the first two weeks in the state of North Carolina. UNC has been the best team all season long, and the team appears to be fully healthy heading into this tournament. There are some interesting contests along the way. Butler vs. South Alabama features two at-large selections from mid-major conferences. Either of these schools would test Tennessee in a prospective second round game. Notre Dame could prove a threat, considering they have the Big East Player of the Year in Luke Harangody. I’ll take North Carolina to win, conquering Louisville in the Elite 8 round.


Kansas is the #1 seed in the Midwest bracket. I see this bracket going close to form. We’ll get to see a great 1st Round contest between Kansas State and USC. Maybe Pat Riley will be in Omaha to scout this one. Either O.J. Mayo or Michael Beasley would be at the top of the draft board if Miami does secure the 1st pick in the 2008 Draft. But Georgetown is the pick out of this region. They have the experience, having been in the Final 4 last season. Their big man, Roy Hibbert, will be awfully hard to stop.


Memphis earned a deserved #1 seed in the Houston region. While Conference USA was down this year, they did play tough out of conference games. The Tennessee loss shouldn’t be a bad mark on their resume. Pitt comes in with a lot of momentum, having won the Big East tournament. And Tom Izzo looks to take Michigan State to its fifth Final Four. Miami is the hometown favorite, but it’s hard to see them making it past Texas. With the benefit of home-court, Texas should come out of this region a winner.


UCLA appears to have the easiest path to the Final Four. They play what amounts to home games in the first weekend at Anaheim. Duke at a #2 seed is slightly overrated. If they are to emerge to face UCLA in the Regional Finals, Duke has nobody to stop Kevin Love. Duke, a predominantly perimeter team, will be in trouble. Connecticut at #4 and Drake at #5 are possible surprises. My upset pick is West Virginia, led by surging Joe Alexander, to win a prospective 2nd round game against Duke.

This leads me to the Final Four. UCLA vs. Texas would be one regional final. UCLA has made the past two final fours, and is probably deeper and more experienced than Texas. It would be ironic if Texas makes it farther than last year (when they lost in the Round of 32) without the services of Kevin Durant.

North Carolina and Georgetown makes for a attractive National Semifinal. Last year, Georgetown pulled off an upset victory in OT against UNC in the Elite 8. But this year should be Tyler Hansbrough's time to shine.

I'll go with North Carolina over UCLA, even if that matchup is a little like chalk.


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