Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Washington Regional: Watch Your Laptops

1. UConn - Good: The Huskies are as talented, if not more so, that anyone. Bad: They have looked strangely disinterested at times. The skinny? If any coach can get his team in the right frame of mind, it's Jim Calhoun. I wouldn't worry about the Huskies lacking intensity from this point forward. I would, however, keep a close eye on my laptop if I'm a reporter covering them.

2. Tennessee - Bruce Pearl is shady and I hope Tennessee chokes and that's all I have to say about that. Oh, and no way do they deserve a two seed. I really dislike these guys. Sorry.

3. North Carolina - Great. We're about to be bombarded with even more talking heads blabbering on and on about how Roy Williams lost the top seven scorers from last year's national champs. Yeah, we get it already. Look, there should never be any surprise when North Carolina contends in the ACC and earns a high seed. Never. OK? This has been happening for decades. Get over it.

4. Illinois - We all know the Illini defense will be stifling. So much depends on how Dee Brown shoots. If he shoots well, the Illini can beat anyone. If he struggles, The Illini will do likewise. James Augustine needs to stay out of foul trouble.

5. Washington - Brandon Roy is arguably the most underrated player in the country and Lorenzo Romar arguably the most underrated coach.

6. Michigan State - OK, all season long the Spartans proved disappointing, and all season long the general consensus was that once the tourney starts, Tom Izzo will have them, finally, playing as well as they're capable of.

Well, now we shall see.

7. Wichita State - The MVC champs have four players averaging in double figures. Solid. Too bad they don't have Xavier McDaniel, who led the nation in scoring and rebounding while with the Shockers, who probably have the best chance of the MVC teams to win a first round game.

8. Kentucky - This is not the Kentucky you know. This Kentucky is not very good. It would be considered a success for the Cats to reach the second round, and that just isn't going to fly in Lexington

9. UAB - I love me some UAB basketball. Not nearly enough teams use forty minutes of full court pressure anymore, but the Blazers do, which Mike Anderson learned under Nolan Richardson during the famed "Forty Minutes of Hell" era of Arkansas basketball. The Blazers shocked top-seeded Kentucky in 2004 and they may just do it again here.

10. Seton Hall - The Hall has been inconsistent all season, so I wouldn't expect an extended run. So, why did PJ Carlesimo ever leave? To be an assistant in the NBA with players who ignore coaching staffs?

11. George Mason - Sadly, the Patriots have become most famous recently for Tony Skinn's punch to the nuts of a Hofstra player.

12. Utah State - Both coach Stu Morrill and the Aggies program are underrated. I'd expect them to give Washington all it can handle. Interesting: guard David Pak is 29 and served ten years in jail for rape. Watch your cheerleaders.

13. Air Force - Too bad for the Falcons that Illinois has already played Northwestern and its Princeton-style offense twice already. It won't come as a surprise.

14. Murray State - The Racers are 18-2 in their last 20 games. They also gave the world the floppy-eared Popeye Jones...and the world hasn't stopped laughing since. So thanks for that.

15. Winthrop - I'm truly perplexed as to why Gregg Marshall hasn't moved onto a bigger job yet. All he has done is lead Winthrop to six tourney appearances in the last eight years. Even more confounding, he's even signed a contract extension through 2015, so apparently he really likes the school or somebody in the athletic offices holds some compromising photos.

16. Albany - The last I heard of Albany and basketball in the same sentence, Phil Jackson was leading the Patroons to titles in the CBA.

First round upset: Utah State over Washington

Final Four pick: UConn over Michigan State


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