Once again the biggest college basketball tournament of the year is ready to begin. All the teams have been selected and there are some unlucky teams that have missed out.
The team I was most looking forward to getting in that didn’t is St Mary’s.
They started the season like a house on fire but when star Australian point guard Patty Mills went down with a broken hand the wheels fell off a little and took them a few games to get back on track. They have some great players in their team like center Omar Samhan. He is a blocking and rebounding machine.
They also have a few other good role players like Carlin Hughes and Diamon Simpson.
I was under the impression that a team was not only graded on their record but also their potential and if a star player received an injury that affected their season but was coming back, which Mills was, they would be judged on how good they were with him rather than without.
Needless to say I am upset that The Gaels are not getting their shot in the tourney.
But on to the tournament as it stands. There are some standout teams as always but there are the smokies that might cause a few upsets along the way. Let’s have a look at the regions.
The top seed Pittsburgh has had a stumble before the tourney with a 74-60 loss to West Virginia in the Big East quarter finals.
Forward DeJuan Blair was in foul trouble all night and guard Levance Fields was struggling with an injury which may have contributed to their poor performance. It does show that they are vulnerable if their big dogs go down.
The 2nd seed Duke is a perennial favourite and always believes they have a chance to take it all. They won the ACC title by beating Florida State, the 5th seed in this part of the bracket.
FSU will have to get past Pitt in the 3rd round if they are to get anywhere near the final 4. Third seed Villanova have lots of experience and a slight home court advantage as they will be playing at the Wachovia Center where they play some of their regular season games.
Fourth seed Xavier has had a rough time of it lately and have been shown up by teams with high pressure defence and teams who dictated the tempo. Look for them to go nowhere.
My Cinderella team for this region is Wisconsin. I can see the 12th seed getting through to meet Pittsburgh in the 3rd round. They have a great track record having been seeded 2 and 3 in the last two seasons and have a wealth of experience. They could trip up Pitt on their run.
My Final Four of the East
Sweet Sixteen - Pittsburgh Wisconsin Villanova Duke
Elite 8 - Pittsburgh Villanova
Final Four - Villanova
This quarter of the bracket is loaded with good teams. The top five seeds all have a good shot at making the Final Four. Louisville have the No. 1 seed for the entire tournament.
Coach Rick Pitino has brought together a great team with a good spread of scoring and Terrence Williams and Earl Clark are superstars.
Michigan State is a real run and gun team that can be undone by teams that get back fast on defence and force them into half-court game. The second seed can play the slow game but are at their best when allowed to run.
Third seed and last years champions Kansas are having a slight wobble going into the tourney after losing in the Big 12 Quarters to Baylor. Their strong outside game went missing and they will need it to fire if they are to go long in the tourney.
Wake Forest the fourth seed have one of the most talented rosters going into the tournament but sometimes have trouble maintaining focus for entire games. If they can get everyone on the same page at the same time then they might rumble their way to the Final Four.
Fifth seed Utah have a tough first up match with Arizona. If they get past them they may do some damage.
Sixth seed West Virginia have one of the most dominant players Da’Sean Butler who recently went off on Villanova for 43 points.
The Cinderella team could be the aforementioned Arizona. They have the players to cause upsets with two great forwards in Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill.
My Final Four of the Midwest
SS - Louisville Utah Kansas Michigan St
E8 - Louisville Michigan St
FF - Louisville
This quarter looks like a race in two. No. 1 seed Connecticut has Hasheem Thabeet at center who is a dominant force. If he can get his offence cranking then they will be hard to beat.
One team that has the best shot is second seed Memphis. One of the best defensive teams in the comp they have the goods to shut down any team.
Third seed Missouri and fifth seed Purdue have good solid rosters that could cause problems for the bigger schools.
My cinderella team is Mississippi State who take on 4th seed Washington in the first round however I think if they make it past Washington they will probably be beaten by Purdue.
My Final Four of the West
SS - Connecticut Purdue Missouri Memphis
E8 - Connecticut Memphis
FF - Memphis
Another part of the bracket with a bunch of teams who could cause trouble.
No. 1 seed North Carolina could be the best team in the country but can they stand up to three and maybe four really tough matches to go all the way. They have one of the toughest roads to the Final.
Second seed Oklahoma is one of those speedbumps. They have arguably the best player in the country, Blake Griffin and he has the ability to drag them all the way.
Third seed Syracuse recently played and won one of the longest college games in history when they beat Connecticut after 6 overtimes. Their point guard Jonny Flynn is a machine who just wants to play every minute.
Fourth seed Gonzaga are running hot at the moment and probably cost St Mary’s a tourney slot when they thrashed them in the WCC final. They could cause some problems for the top seeds.
Sixth seed Arizona State have a shot at a short run if James Harden can get his stroke going.
Ninth seed Butler are a good defensive team and if they find some scoring might produce an upset.
My Final Four of the South
SS - Nth Carolina Gonzaga Syracuse Oklahoma
E8 - Nth Carolina Syracuse
FF - Nth Carolina
I will post a preview of the Final Four when we get there and see how good my bracket went. Hope your bracket doesn’t get busted too quickly.