Wednesday, March 14, 2012
NCAA Tournament Bracket Bustier
Kentucky is obviously the favorite in the South, and should advance to the Final Four on talent alone. The Wildcats have two things going for them: a roster full of NBA skill, and Ashley Judd in tight-fitting t-shirts. Plus, unlike every other team in the tournament, Kentucky players actually boast of the likelihood of going "one and done."
Don't expect Duke to challenge Kentucky — the Devils won't get that far. Sure, Duke has Austin Rivers, a sure-fire NBA lottery pick, meaning there's probably a one-in-a-million chance he makes an impact in the pros, but if the three-pointers aren't falling, the Devils are quite vulnerable.
With wins in Greensboro on Friday, Notre Dame and Duke will meet on Sunday with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line. The Irish are coached by Mike Brey, who was an assistant coach under Mike Krzyzewski for nine years. Brey left in 1995, before Krzyzewski's penchant for hiring former mediocre Duke guards as assistants became de rigueur. Expect Duke to advance, then fall to UNLV in the regional semifinals.
UNLV to the regional final
Do the Syracuse Orangemen have the toughest road to the Final Four? Maybe, but please don't tell Jim Boeheim his team will be "tested." The Orangemen went 31-2 this year, which means that of 33 results, 31 were positive. That's pretty much in line with NCAA findings.
That road just got tougher with the announcement on Tuesday that center Fab Melo was ruled ineligible. Melo missed three games earlier this season because of an academic issue. It seems the name "Fab" is definitely spelled with an "F," but no one's quite sure where the "A" and "B" came from.
Syracuse's route to the Final Four is not easy, anyway. A third-round game awaits against Kansas State and acid-tongued head coach Frank Martin, who could pin a number of four-letter words, namely "loss," on the Orange.
Then the Orange could face surging Vanderbilt, who shocked Kentucky in the SEC final. If the 'Cuse isn't shown the Commodore against Vandy, then they will certainly fall in the regional final to the upstart Seminoles of Florida State, who will punch out Ohio State in the regional semis.
Vanderbilt and Harvard meet in the second round in Albuquerque, New Mexico. These are two of the most storied academic institutions in America, but don't let that fool you — they can play. Sure, the Commodores and the Crimson may not have McDonald's All-Americans, like Kentucky and Syracuse, for example. But they also don't have something those teams do — tutors. "Eligibility" is a word rarely, if ever, uttered on the Vandy or Harvard campuses.
Fifth-seeded Vanderbilt over top-seeded Syracuse
Despite a loss in the ACC title game, North Carolina procured the region's No. 1 seed, and with it, the weighty expectations of Tar Heel Nation. That's not unusual — the Heels are championship-caliber on a yearly basis, except those coached by Matt Doherty.
This year, may are questioning UNC's toughness, which is a legitimate doubt. How can you not question the toughness of a Carolina team that couldn't avenge a 33-point loss to Florida State, particularly on the ACC tournament final stage? Carolina's uniform may scare others, but no player wearing it does. What the Heels need is a mean streak, not unlike the one shown by Tyler Hansbrough, who led the Heels to the 2009 title.
Questions remain for the Tar Heels. How will Jon Henson's wrist affect his play? Can UNC find consistent success behind the three-point arc? How much did Michael Jordan wager on Carolina to win it all?
The tournament gets a dream regional final, as the one-seeded Heels faces the two-seeded Kansas Jayhawks. The limp-wristed Tar Heels advance.
UNC's Harrison Barnes could face high school teammate Doug McDermott of Creighton if both teams win their first game. The selection committee seems to have under-seeded Creighton in order to create this potential matchup.
14th-seeded Belmont over third-seeded Georgetown and 11th-seeded NC State over sixth-seeded San Diego State. NC State could be a dangerous team, provided they choose to howl instead of whine. Note to Wolfpack fans: they don't call fouls on Hail Mary passes in football either.
Michigan State may be the tournament's weakest No. 1 seed, but like their coach Tom Izzo, a favorite of rapper Jay-Z, the Spartans are just so darn likable. Izzo on the bench automatically gets the Spartans to the Sweet 16.
A run to the Final Four will be hampered by the presence of the field's strongest No. 2 seed, Missouri. The Tigers should have been the Midwest's No. 1 seed, especially after rolling in the Big 12 tournament. But it seems North Carolina was rewarded more for their 18-point win over Duke than Missouri was for winning the Big 12 tournament.
Anyway, Mizzou could face a scary third-round matchup with Florida. It's not that the Gators themselves are scary, but first-year Missouri coach Frank Haith was hoping to steer clear of anything in the state of Florida.
Third-seeded Marquette. It's hard to call a three seed a darkhorse, but Marquette is content to take a back seat to Michigan State, Missouri, and trendy pick Murray State.
12th-seeded Long Beach State over fifth-seeded New Mexico
Kentucky over Missouri
North Carolina over Florida State
Kentucky over North Carolina