Eeney, meeney, miney, moe, can you catch an NCAA Champion by his toe?
The childrens' rhyme has much significance in this NCAA Tournament as the health and well being of UNC star Ty "The Toe" Lawson seems to determine whether they make the Final Four.
But, to the apparent surprise of many, there are other issues and other schools involved in this playoff scenario. Let us visit with the various tribes attempting to make hay while the sun shines.
Here is a quandary sure enough. We have the ACC Champion Duke Blue Devils, the top seeded Pittsburgh Panthers football, err, basketball squad, another Big East school known around Philly summer leagues as Vanilla-Nova, and the notorious X-Men from Cincinnati.
The Panthers have the most size and bulk, and a future NBA point guard in Lavance Fields. While the X-Men have the best athletes, there is no denying Villanova stars Scottie Reynolds and Dante Cunningham have the tools to push the Wildcats into the Final Four.
Who can say but, we know one thing for sure, every year a player like Scottie Reynolds steps forward to remind the country why he is considered a premier player in his own neighborhood, the neighborhood of the NCAA Tournament.
All apologies to the other regions, this is where the action is. Cooped up in a hotel room for several days, the seven-foot-three-inch Hasheem Thabeet may well decide enough is enough and just take over the tournament.
Standing in the way of the Husky-march of conquest is the Champion of the Big 10, Purdue. If the big dogs advance, they get the survivor of the Big 12 Champion Missouri and Conference USA Champion Memphis.
Unlike in past years, these two cats have claws, and could end up taking a lot out of each other. Since the Huskies could face more competition in this bracket than in the Final Four itself, UConn has to be on the top of their game to get out of this mess.
Although on the surface this appears to be the weakest regional, it does provide an interesting mix of the nation's best player in Blake Griffin, the red-hot media darlings of Syracuse, the medical story of the never-ending soap opera known as UNC, and the only conference champion in the bunch–Gonzaga.
Speaking on the grounds of anonymity, a former SEC head coach stated earlier today that "you can say whatever you want about this regional, it will come down to the referees' call."
But what of Griffin? Does his dominating presence account for nothing? Has he not done his best to power the under-manned Sooners this far?
How about the high-flying Jonny Flynn of the Orange? Will Ty Lawson throw away his bandages and lead the UNC team like the Piper in the Revolutionary War painting? Can we talk some more about how long are the arms of the Zags' Austin Daye?
To quote Chuck Berry: "It goes to show you never can tell."
Were it not for the fearsome West regional, all eyes would be upon this spectacular match-up of differing styles and Championship coaching.
If there is a Cinderella this season, the circus maximus known as the Arizona Wildcats is it.
Reported to be the last team chosen for the big dance, and projected to be among the first out, this episodic season has caused more bottles of Maalox to be purchased in Tucson, Tombstone, Yuma, and the surrounding area than the goings on at the OK Corral or the 3:10 train.
Plain speaking, six foot eleven Jordan Hill and six foot eight Chase Budinger of the Wildcats are better than any player on Louisville. It will take all of the ability former National Title winner Rick Pitino can muster to advance his Cardinals into the regional final.
Speaking of national champion coaching, two will face off on the other side of this bracket. But don't look for the Jayhawks of Kansas to be defending their national title for very long. Tom Izzo's Spartans should make short work of the KU kiddie-korps.
Healthy for the first time all season, Michigan State gives no apologies for losing so many games earlier. That was then, this is now.
Don't be surprised if Izzo's Spartans find a way to crash the Final Four party. Brutish and powerful, the men from East Lansing have made their living over the years chewing up "great athletes."
There we have it, a synopsis of the most balanced Sweet Sixteen in years. And just thinking, it was all done without the BCS. Maybe there is hope for college football.
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