Below are questions from each region answered by the three of us dillweeds. Enjoy.
Best first round match up?
Dogg- Best first round match up will be Indiana vs. Arkansas. Both teams have been very good at times this year, but they both have been average as well. I believe the departure of Kelvin Sampson has put a huge damper on this team, and I see Indiana not showing up in round one with their new head coach. Arkansas by eight.
Q: I think the best first-round match-up has to be Butler vs. South Alabama. Two midmajor teams that a majority of the country knows nothing about. If Butler continues to shoot the ball as they have for most of the season, it is very likely that they win this game and upset Tennessee in the second round.
Fuzz: The best first-round match-up is Washington State (No. 4) against Winthrop (No.13). Winthrop can win this game. They have a bunch of thugs on their team, and Wash St. can't handle it.
Fuzz: As for a sleeper team, I think the obvious choice is Butler. They are 29-3. That is an impressive record. They beat Ohio State and Virginia Tech earlier in the season. Both are NIT teams but both are pretty good teams. Plus, they won't have to meet UNC until the Elite Eight since they are in the lower area of the bracket.
Q: I'm not sure how much of a "sleeper" a seven seed can be, but I like Butler winning at least two, if not three games and ruining a lot of brackets (just not mine, of course).
Dogg: My sleeper team is Butler. They play good defense, slow the game down to the pace where most college teams are uncomfortable and have great guard play with Green and Graves. They’ve played the big dogs the past two seasons, so playing Tennessee in a potential second-round match-up will not be intimidating for this squad. They could make a run towards the Sweet 16, maybe even the Elite Eight.
Dream match up in later rounds?
Dogg: Louisville vs. Tennessee would be a great one to see. Tennessee can score points with the best of them, and Louisville plays defense that most teams can’t handle. Tennessee bombs threes, and Louisville guards the 3-point line like no other team in the country. This game would be intriguing, and you always take defense over offense. I would pick Louisville in this game.
Fuzz: UNC and Tennessee is the dream match-up. Both have been the No. 1 team in the land at some point this year.
Q: I know a lot of people want to see the Tar Heels and the Volunteers square off, but I'm not one of them. A Butler/Oklahoma Elite Eight match-up would be a dream for me because it would mean my brackets are in good shape.
Who comes out of this region?
Q: As for a team to head to San Antonio for the Final Four? You'd have to be crazy not to pick UNC, so I'll go with them. As long as Lawson is up and running, they are nearly impossible to defend with inside (Hansbrough) and outside (Ellington) scoring options.
Dogg: Hansbrough and UNC come out of this bracket. Psycho T is the best player in college basketball and is a force on the block. Lawson and Ellington can step up in any big game and they are deep. They will outlast any team in a running game.
Fuzz: I know this will be ripped, but I think Louisville comes out of this region. UNC is going to be in everyone's Final Four, but not with this guy. Louisville is a balanced team that went 14-4 in the Big East, including the Big East Tourney. They are a tough team. Pitno is a pretty damn good coach, too. Louisville will represent the East.
Any Additional comments about this region?
Dogg- Washington St. is my team to watch. They are unique in that they can score when they really decide to push the ball but also have the ability to slow the game down to a Princeton-type style. They have great guard play with Weaver and Lowe who will both play at the next level, so this team should not be overlooked.
Fuzz- The East region is a pretty tough region in my mind. Maybe the toughest. UNC could be playing Indiana second round, and Indiana was ranked near the top 10 all year until Sampson got booted. They could just turn it on.
Q- The East will be tough, but it's not the toughest. Sure you have the No. 1 overall seed in North Carolina, but I think there are some overrated teams in this bracket, starting with the second-seeded Volunteers. Sure, they score a lot of points, but they also give up a ton and don't shoot free throws all that well either. Not a great combination for tournament success. Strong arguments could also be made about Louisville and Washington St. (the three and four seeds) not being very tough as well.
Does Kansas finally break through to the Final Four? Why or why not?
Fuzz: Yes, they do. Bill Self and the Jayhawks seem to have a hot team entering every tourney but come up short every year. Not this year. They have the depth and the will to get to San Antonio. Guys like Chalmers, Rush, and Robinson know too well what it feels like leaving the tourney too early, and, this year, the wait is over.
Q: If you take out the fact that this is Kansas, they would appear, on paper, to have a team that absolutely should go to the Final Four. They have the best and deepest backcourt in the nation with Chalmers, Robinson, Rush, and Collins. Combine those guys with above average big men in Kahn, Arthur, and Jackson, and you have possibly the most talented team in the land.
The problem is the name on the front of the jersey. This is the same school that has produced uber-talented teams over the last two years and have been bounced in the first round by Bucknell and Bradley. Nevertheless, I'm going to say that they finally get that proverbial monkey off their back with a trip to San Antonio this year.
Not because this team is necessarily that much better than in previous years, rather, because of the lack of talent in this region. For instance, Georgetown, the two seed, has not been consistent and star player Roy Hibbert has proven that he absolutely can disappear at crucial times (such as fouling out with zero points and three rebounds in the Big East semis).
Dogg: I believe Kansas does breakthrough to the Final Four this year. The first reason is that I don’t see a real threat to them in their bracket, and, secondly, they are that good this year. They have the best seven-man rotation in the country, and, if Mario Chalmers decides to be the player he can be during crunch time, I see them playing in the National Championship. They don’t really have a weakness except maybe for their tournament jinx, but, with a little more experience and Bill Self probably itching to reach a Final Four, they are primed for a big-time run at the title.
Who has the better game: Mayo or Beasley?
Dogg: I believe Beasley will have a better stat line when it comes to points, but Mayo leads his team to victory. This will go with my answer to my sleeper team in this region who is USC. They were up-and-down most of the year, but I really like all the Pac 10 teams this year, as I believe from top to bottom that this was by far the toughest conference.
Thanks to FSN on Thursday nights and Saturday nights we are blessed with late-night Pac 10 basketball, and it was exciting every night because most of the teams were legit. I believe Mayo and Beasley will rise up on the national stage for this game, but USC is just a better team than Kansas St. The supporting cast for USC actually can play basketball, and, other than Bill Walker, Kansas St. doesn’t have another player who should be playing college basketball at any level.
Fuzz: Beasley will have the better offensive statistic game, but Mayo’s USC team will win this game. Beasley could have 40, and they could still lose. Mayo will get his 20 and Beasley will get his absurd stat line that seemed to be the norm for him.
Even though I see Kansas State losing, I’m not sold on USC either. I think USC wins this game but gets stuffed from Wisconsin the next game. USC will be owned by Bo Ryan’s D. Anyways, what really matters is that Beasley needs plenty of time off to get up to Minny and start house shopping. Needs to get comfortable with his surroundings.
Q: In the made-for-TV match up between USC and Kansas State, I have Beasley with the better game (Jay Bilas guaranteed that he'd get 30-plus on ESPN last night), but Mayo and the Trojans will win the game because of OJ's unselfish play. Mayo has gotten a reputation for being a me-first player, but he'll shatter those thoughts and have the country raving about him as USC wins no fewer than two games.
Q: I'd love to say Davidson is the sleeper, considering we've been pimping them on the site all year, but I'm just not sure with the draw they got. A potential Gonzaga-Georgetown-Wisconsin run is a very daunting task. So, instead, I'm going with Clemson. The four or five times I've seen them play this year, they have looked really good. They have a great combination of guard play and physically imposing size to play with anyone in the region. Their free-throw shooting may be their ultimate downfall, but don't be surprised if they pull off an Elite Eight run.
Fuzz: Q doesn’t like when sleepers are high seeds, but I’m putting Vanderbilt down here. Yes, Vanderbilt the No. 4 seed. I’m putting them down because I’ve literally heard nothing about their chances since the brackets have come out. Out of the top four seeds in each bracket, they have to be the least mentioned.
I bet a lot of people pick them to lose early because of the non-media coverage. They beat Tennessee and have a pretty good team. If Vandy makes the Sweet 16, they’d more than likely play Kansas to get to the Elite Eight. Even though I personally think Kansas will advance, Kansas is far from a guarantee this time of the year. Vandy could make a run.
Who do you have representing this region?
Fuzz: Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Rock Chalk Jayhawk!
Dogg: Kansas and Bill Self represent big-time throughout the tournament and think they are one of three teams that have a shot at winning the title. We all know their fans will be supporting their team because they are one large clique who live and die KU hoops. I personally know several who attended KU, and trust me when I say their fans will be cheering louder than ever this season.
Q: As stated earlier, I've got to go with Kansas. I'm not a big fan of the Hoyas or the Badgers, and picking Clemson to represent the region is a call that is way too bold for me to take. KU's depth is going to be the key to them squaring off against UNC in a match up that will get hyped to no end.
Who's the best point guard in this bracket?
Q: Wow, what a loaded region for playmakers—great question. Let's make sure everyone's clear on the options for best PG in the South: Rose (MEM), Neitzel (MSU), Fields (PITT), James (MU), Crawford (KEN), Augustin (TEX), and whichever guard out of Oregon you deem as the point. Holy cow.
Well, with all due respect to the clutchness (made up word) of Neitzel and the excitability (another) of Rose, I'm going to have to go with DJ Augustin out of Texas. I may be a bit biased since I just spent the last three to four days in Kansas City watching the Big 12 Tournament and got to see him up-close-and-personal, but I think Augustin is the real deal. He can score, pass, defend; he does it all. Plus, I think he'll be the catalyst that gets Rick Barnes' club to the Final Four.
Fuzz: Let’s run through a few of the names of PG’s in this bracket: Derrick Rose, Drew Neitzel, Dominic James, and DJ Augustin. That’s a good group. James is overrated but still deserves to be on this list. When he’s on, he’s as hard of a player to stop as anyone in the country.
Unfortunately for James and Marquette, he’s off more than he’s on. Neitzel is probably the PG with the biggest kahuna’s in that list. Gamer is overused, but he’s just that. Rose is an talented freshman who plays for a system that favors good point guards. Memphis runs and runs and runs, so a good PG can really excel. Rose has done just that.
That leaves DJ Augustin, my pick for the best PG in this bracket and even the nation, for that matter. Augustin is unreal. There is a reason why Texas didn’t fall off after Durant left; it’s because of this animal. Bob Knight called him the hardest guy to guard in the nation the other night. Texas could be Final Four-bound if he simply does what he does best—be the best PG in the nation.
Dogg: Yeah, there are a few good PGs in this region but my clear-cut, best PG and maybe best player in this region is Dominic James from Marquette. I still don't know how he only got second-team all-Big East, but Marquette is a fringe NIT team if he's not on the court. I know he tends to disappear at times, but, when it's national television time, it's D-James time! He will lead Marquette to a Sweet 16 berth this year.
What's the most intriguing possible Sweet 16 matchup?
Dogg: I see Marquette playing Texas and seeing two undersized but explosive PGs duking it out with James and Augustin. Both teams can look like the best team in the country but both have looked relatively mediocre, especially the Golden Eagles. I like Marquette in this match up and think this is their year to make a legit run.
Fuzz: Memphis vs. Michigan State would be an interesting game. Memphis plays like the Phoenix Suns, and Michigan State plays like a small-town high school team playing zone and box and ones. Michigan State would try to control the tempo almost at an uncomfortable to watch slow-down level and Memphis would try to do the same but at the opposite end of the spectrum. I could see Memphis players getting frustrated with this game. It simply would be a prototypical Big Ten team playing against a prototypical Conference USA team.
Q: In the Sweet 16, I'd love to see Stanford-Texas. It may not have the flash and boatloads of points that a game like Memphis-Pittsburgh would, but, for a real college basketball fan, this would be highly entertaining. Both teams have numerous players that are big-time stars (and others who will be soon), and it would be interesting to see who would prevail—the Cardinal with their twin towers Brooke and Robin Lopez, or the Horns and their dynamite backcourt of Augustin and AJ Abrams. I'm getting excited just writing about it.
Overall thoughts on this region?
Q: Top to bottom, this is the most difficult and balanced region in the tournament. You have the consistent high level of play from Memphis, Texas, and Stanford, as well as a number of those "next level" teams that could easily go on a five- or six-game tear in Pittsburgh, Michigan State, Marquette, and Kentucky. Oh, and don't forget about a couple of potential Cinderella's in Temple and St. Mary's. This quarter of the bracket is absolutely loaded, and I wouldn't be surprised to see any two of the previously mentioned nine teams battling it out for the right to go to the Lonestar state.
Dogg: Memphis doesn't make the Final Four is my thought. I selected Oregon in my draft for teams because if they can get by Mississippi St., they can run up and down with just about anybody. They can score but aren't deep. Stay out of foul trouble and they might just be the spoiler once again for Memphis.
Fuzz: With Memphis as the No. 1 seed, this bracket is the widest open of all the regions. Out of all the No. 1s, most would agree that Memphis would be the most vulnerable. Memphis scores a healthy amount but also gives up its fair share.
They are also a horrendous free-throw shooting team, which doesn’t bode well come tourney time since most games are close ones. So, that leaves the door open for Texas. Texas is also a very good team but has the most losses out of any No. 2 seed with bad losses to Missouri, Texas Tech and an overrated A&M squad. So, that leaves the door open for Stanford. How many brackets has Stanford wrecked this decade? Exactly. So, that leaves the door open. This is the hardest bracket to pick, in my opinion.
Who do you have taking this region?
Fuzz: I like the Longhorns. They played the Jayhawks very tough in the Big 12 championship game, and Kansas could be the best team in the country. I think the free-throw stat comes into play for Memphis. Calipari seems like one of those coaches who thinks this stat is overrated. He just blows off free-throw drills some days. “We’ll just outscore them, so it doesn’t matter.” I could see him saying something like that. I think it bites them in the ass and Texas rides to the Final Four.
Dogg: I have Marquette in a huge surprise!!
Q: I have the Texas Longhorns representing the South region with Damian James as a sleeper regional MVP.
Who is the best coach in this region?
Q: Oh man, what a loaded first question. I'll give our readers one guess as to the moderator of this roundtable. Here's a hint: he waited until Duke's region to ask the question "Who is the best coach?" Well I'm not going to give you the satisfaction, Fuzz. I'm taking Ben Howland at UCLA.
The guy has an amazing track record for success in both the regular season and the NCAA Tournament. Here are some stats for your ass: overall record of 290-143 (.670 winning percentage), including 122-44 (.735) with the Bruins. Won the Big Sky regular season twice and the Big Sky tournament once.
At Pitt, he won two regular season Big East crowns and one Big East tournament title. Since coming to UCLA, he has taken home the Pac 10 regular season title three times and has twice been victorious in the Pac 10 tournament. The guy flat out wins (went to the last two Final Fours and has his team poised as a No. 1 seed again this year).
Fuzz: This region boasts some pretty decent ones, but my pick is Coach K. Weird. Since Coach K took over 27 years ago, he’s had three losing seasons, three National Championships and 10 Final Four appearances. Plus, he’s one of the most hated coaches for fans out there, and it’s more reason for me to love him.
Dogg: The best coach in this region is a complete landslide with Ben Howland. He leaves Pittsburgh for UCLA and with mass amounts of pressure on him; he has led UCLA to two-straight Final Fours and probably a third straight this year. He recruits, has guys leave early and then develops new stars the next year, recruits again, and he doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
What is the best first-round game?
Dogg: Arizona/WVU is the most intriguing game for me. There are three superstars in this game (Joe Alexander, Jared Bayless, and Chase Buddinger). Two of them play for Arizona but WVU has a much deeper and more balanced team so I'm taking WV. Watch out for WVU to give Duke a nice run in round two.
Fuzz: 5-12 game—Drake vs. Western Kentucky. With Drake already being a Cinderella story, they’ll be picked heavily against in this game. Everyone usually picks an upset in the 5-12 game and Drake seems like the safest No. 5 seed to go down. Will Drake keep the glass slippers on or will they be another 5-12 statistic?
Q: The best first-round game in the South comes courtesy of West Virginia and Arizona. Not many people in the country know about Joe Alexander and the Mountaineers, but they will soon.
This team is talented, well coached, and has a shot at pulling off a huge upset of Duke in the second round (you know, if the Blue Devil can manage to squeak by Belmont, which is by no means a guarantee). On the other hand, many so-called experts are bitching and moaning about the fact that the Wildcats shouldn't even be in the tourney.
That doubt always seems to put a chip on teams' shoulders and pushes them to play well above expectations (i.e. when UNC "shouldn't" have gotten in a few years back and then went to the Final Four). It would not shock me if Arizona took out WVU in the first round and then Duke in the second round. I think the moral of the story is that the winner of this game will beat Duke in the second round, and I will be happy.
Who is the most overrated team?
Fuzz: My two cohorts will probably say Duke. Actually, I know they will. This is a softball question for them to once again rip down Duke. They take any chance they can—believe me. Personally, I think it’s Georgia. Yes, they are a No. 14 seed, but they don’t even belong here. Screw this automatic conference tourney bid stuff. They aren’t even close to the top 64 teams in the country, which they preach it is. The Gophers are better than the Bulldogs.
Q: Most overrated team? Easy. The Duke Blue Devils. They blow, enough said.
Dogg: I believe Drake is the most overrated team in this region. I've seen them play twice, and, yes, they do play hard but they rely heavily on the 3-point shot and don't have a lot of athleticism to guard anybody big or quick. I like Western Kentucky to beat Drake in round one.
Fuzz: One out of two ain’t bad right?
Who is your pick to win this region?
Q: My pick to win this region is UCLA in a cakewalk. The only game they're likely to get is in the Elite Eight against Xavier and even that game won't be all that close. Howland and the Bruins stroll into San Antonio for a ridiculous third year in a row.
Fuzz: UCLA. They’re a Final Four machine. This would be their third-straight Final Four, and I see it happening. UCLA, Kevin Love and his outlet passing get through a fairly easy bracket to reach San Antonio as my last team.
Dogg: I'm taking UCLA because Duke lives behind the arc, and, if they do match up in the Elite Eight, Kevin Love is going to own the block. UCLA will guard the 3-point shot and are as athletic as Duke so they will be able to contain penetration and kick tactic they like to use.
Who wins it all? Over who?
Fuzz: If you weren’t paying attention my Final Four is: Louisville, Kansas, Texas, and UCLA. I see Kansas winning it all over UCLA. Alfalfa finally gets to cut down the nets after years of disappointment.
Q: So that makes my Final Four UNC, Kansas, Texas, and UCLA (I know, real original). I have UNC and Texas advancing to the final game with the Tar Heels leaving as the 2008 National Champions.
Dogg: I'm taking UCLA over Kansas. UCLA has the easiest road to the Final Four so they should be the healthiest team going into the Final Four, which usually plays a factor on the outcome. I'm waiting anxiously to see Ben Howland holding the trophy while "One Shining Moment" is played.