Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Minneapolis Regional: BC Will Annoy

1. Villanova - There seems to be a black cloud hanging over Nova. First, it was Curtis Sumpter going down for good in October. Last week, it was Allan Ray almost being separated from his eyeball by Pitt's Carl Krauser. What's next? Maybe it's not such a good thing the Cats are staying in Philly for the opening rounds. They may want to head elsewhere.

Although Nova's four-guard lineup has never seemed to be a detriment, several of the contenders in this region have solid big men. Ohio State (Terrance Dials), Boston College (Craig Smith), Florida (Joakim Noah), and Nevada (Nick Fazekas) could all, conceivably, give the Wildcats problems for just this reason.

Incidentally, as an Illinois fan, I'd like to point out that Nova should have beaten North Carolina in last year's Sweet Sixteen. Nova was jobbed. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.

2. Ohio State - I can guarantee you one thing: When the Buckeyes lose, we will hear plenty of talk about how talented the Buckeyes' incoming freshmen are and how bright their future is and blah, blah, blah. Be prepared. It's going to get very sentimental.

3. Florida - Soft. The Gators are soft. If Noah was going to sport that puffy ponytail anywhere, it's Gainesville. Florida has failed to escape the opening weekend for five consecutive years. I'm looking real hard at South Alabama as a potential upset special.

4. Boston College - I'll be honest, I don't like Boston College. Why? This is why. And this and this and this and this and this. BC is easily the most annoying team in America. I like a little trash talk as much as the next dude who's just happy not to be the recipient of it, but these guys strut around and yap, yap, yap like nobody's business. Drives me crazy.

That said, the Eagles have recovered nicely from an 0-3 start in the ACC and are playing well. Could go deep.

5. Nevada - For a white dude with arms skinnier than Nicole Ritchie on an all-milk diet, Nick Fazekas sure can ball. 22 and 10 per game. Nice. The Wolfpack has won 14 in a row and should win its opener for the third consecutive year. It's amazing that UNLV is no longer the dominant program in the state. Where have you gone Jerry Tarkanian?

6. Oklahoma - The Sooners have been disappointing all season, although a recent stretch of four straight one-point wins shows they do have some mettle in close games. Or maybe it shows that they're perpetually beatable. I wouldn't expect much.

7. Georgetown - Clearly, there is a simple formula for success at Georgetown: a member of the Thompson family as coach and a really tall, intimidating dude in the middle. John Thompsom III has the Hoyas reaching the elite level for the first time since his pops was coach, and, at 7-2, Roy Hibbert is adequately filling the intimidator role once occupied by Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo. The Hoyas have six players averaging at least 8 ppg. You gotta love that.

I've been liking Georgetown as a big time sleeper for a while now. The potential Gtown-Ohio State matchup in the second round could be a dandy.

8. Arizona - If Arizona can make the field at 19-12 out of the Pac Ten, you really have to wonder why 19-12 wasn't good enough for Cincy out of the much tougher Big East. Don't count on Lute Olson's hair sticking around long.

9. Wisconsin - The Badgers have been suspect this year away from home. The Wisconisn-Arizona matchup could be sleep-inducing.

10. Northern Iowa - The Panthers kept getting all kinds of national love this season, even sneaking into the polls a couple of times, but the truth is, they struggled down the stretch, losing five of their last seven. Not a good sign.

11. Wisconsin-Milwaukee - Last year's Cinderella is back again and looking equally dangerous. The Panthers haven't missed a beat under Rob Jeter, who took over after Bruce Pearl and all of his shadiness oozed down to Knoxville where he is now collecting crackheads. Another trip to the Sweet Sixteen is not out of the question in this weak section of the bracket.

12. Montana - Much like Iona, the Grizzlies are coached by a tall, funny-looking former NBA honky from the '80s, Larry Krystkowiak. How soon until Mark Eaton and Ed Nealy have college head coaching gigs?

13. Pacific - Pacific, making its third consecutive appearance, won't be taken lightly after bouncing Pitt last year. Hey, remember when Pacific product Michael Olokowandi was the number one overall draft pick? Yeah, that was funny.

14. South Alabama - The Jaguars have won 11 of 12, including their three Sun Belt tourney games by an average of 20 points. So they're hot. They're coached by former Kentucky player John Pelhrey, which means the Jaguars should be great in any last-second, length-of-the-court inbounds pass situations. Richie Farmer and Gimel Martinez are assistants. (Just kidding.)

15. Davidson - Will we see a David(son) vs Goliath scenario? Nope. (That was patehtically non-clever.)

16. Hampton/Monmouth - The play-in game participants? Whatever.

First round upset: Milwaukee over Oklahoma

Final Four: Boston College over Ohio State


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