2011 Bracket Predictions: Villanova Will Take Down George Mason in East Region
There's no sense in really trying to predict upsets past the first round in the East Region.
Right now, I think most of your powerhouses will breeze through the first round, but there are two potential upsets I foresee: No.11 Marquette over No. 6 seed Xavier, and No.9 Villanova beating No. 8 George Mason. Let's go at the second game for now.
My colleague Sam Westmoreland loves him some Patriots, and thinks they have what it takes to knock off 'Nova, predicting a 78-73 victory.
"The CAA regular season champs have six scorers they can turn to, most notably swingmen Cam Long and Ryan Pearson," Westmoreland writes. "They can run and score with anyone, and have the capability to play excellent defense. Sure, they don't rebound well, but they're facing a Villanova squad bereft of its best bigs."
Ah, but keep in mind: a "lower" seed has benefited Villanova in the past.
Since the NCAA began seeding teams in 1979, Villanova has made 21 appearances in the tournament, including this year. As the lower seed, the Wildcats have 15 total wins, more than Michigan State (12), UCLA (11) and Purdue (10).
Villanova, which is 3-1 against No. 8 seeds in the tournament, is also 4-0 against the Patriots. Their last meeting came Nov.17, 2009, when the Wildcats won 69-68 in the first round of the O'Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Classic. Two years prior to that, Villanova won 84-76 in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando.
Don't forget, too, that Villanova's seniors are 7-3 in the NCAA tournament, including an appearance in the Final Four in 2009.
Now, does this mean the Wildcats are a lock here? Of course not. Outside of a No. 1 seed getting knocked off by a No. 16 (which has never been done), any team is primed to be taken out.
I just want people to tap the brakes for a second and ease up on the Cinderella hysteria. I know it's fun to call your shots and be able to say "I told you so, I told you so" to your buddies, but let's remember the Wildcats survived the Big East. They didn't exactly pile up wins in the Sun Belt or the WAC.
This won't be a 12 seed knocking off a five, which we all love, but if the Wildcats play like they're capable of, they'll take care of business and move on to the next round.
Give me Nova, 80-69.
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