The Pinkie Previews The East Region A To Z

straitpinkieCorrespondent IMarch 18, 2009

“A” is for American University.

The American University Eagles make their second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance as the No. 14 seed in the East. The Patriot League champions have the nation’s second longest winning streak at 13 in a row, but will need to bring it big time to extend their streak to 14. American drew a tough match up as they run into Jay Wright’s Villanova Wildcats, and have to play them in Philadelphia.

“B” is for the Binghamton Bearcats.

The America East conference tournament winners earned their first trip ever to the Big Dance thanks to their 61-51 win over the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. The No. 15 seeded Bearcats have only been in Division I since 2001-2002 and draw the Dukies in the first round. And you can bet they will have alum Tony Kornheiser cheering them on big time.

“C” is for Cowboys.

As in the Oklahoma St. Cowboys, coached by former Kentucky Wildcat Travis Ford. Okie St. makes their first trip to the Dance since 2005 claiming a No. 8 seed and will face the sweat-meister himself, Bruce Pearl and his Tennessee Volunteers.

“D” is for the Dukies.

Coach K and his unlovable band of floor slappers will enter the tournament as a No. 2 seed. Duke won the 2009 ACC tournament, but still have not fared too well in recent years in the Big Dance losing to lower seeds each of the last two years. This year’s version of the Dukies can go either way, if they hit threes they will do well, if not they may go out quick (that’s never a bad thing).

“E” is for East Tennessee State.

The East Tennessee State Buccaneers won the Atlantic Sun conference and get “rewarded” by having to play Pittsburgh in Dayton on Friday. The Bucs have no chance.

“F” is for Florida State.

The Seminoles end their decade long drought from the NCAA Tournament by entering as the East region’s No. 5 seed. Coach Leonard Hamilton’s teams always seem to be on the bubble each season, but this year they were comfortable on Selection Sunday. Florida State, the only Florida school in the Dance, will take on Wisconsin in Boise, ID on Friday.

“G” is for Golden Gophers.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers enter the NCAA Tournament as the East Region’s No. 10 seed. In his second year as coach, Pinkie favorite Orlando “Tubby” Smith leads the Gophers to face No. 7 seed Texas. Minnesota has not been to the Dance since 2005 and with Tubby at the helm, they should expect tournament apps to continue for quite some time.

“H” is for Howland.

As in Coach Ben Howland of the No. 6 seeded UCLA Bruins. Howland has led the resurgence of the UCLA program, including 149-52 record and three strait trips to the Final Four (2006-2008). However, this year’s Bruins have struggled. They will need a lot to go their way to make their fourth straight Final Four.

“I” is for Immortality.

Immortality is what No. 16 seed East Tennessee State and No. 15 seed Binghamton will reach if they win their opening round games…don’t think it’ll happen.

“J” is for Jamie Dixon.

The Coach of the No. 1 seed in the East has not gone past the Sweet 16. His team is loaded, considered the best team in the land by some, and have a great draw in my opinion to get to at least the Regional Final. Its on Jamie Dixon to get the Panthers there.

“K” is for Krzyzewski.

It's the full spelling of Coach K’s name and it annoys me. It definitely took three tries to spell it correctly even whilst looking at the correct spelling. Yet another reason to dislike the Dukies.

“L” is for Losing.

I want Duke to lose in their opening game, hence losing.

“M” is for March Madness.

It's my favorite time of the year. We get to watch the best tournament in all of sports and baseball season is just around the corner—simply a great time to be alive.

“N” is for No More Packer!!

As Bobby E. splained in his Midwest breakdown, the annoying Billy Packer will no longer be calling games during the tournament. Even more reason to watch the tournament.

“O” is for Opportunity.

Some teams make the tournament by winning a small conference and then are paired up with a perennial power. By facing that historically tough team, the smaller school gets a chance to make a lasting impression.

In the East region, VCU has that chance. Virginia Commonwealth defeated Duke two years ago and now have a chance to knock off a college basketball power again as they face the UCLA Bruins. Does Anthony Grant and Co. have another magical moment in store for us?

“P” is for Pearl.

The aforementioned sweat-meister himself, Bruce Pearl, brings his Tennessee squad into the Dance once again. I’ve always thought Pearl was highly overrated as a coach, but he’ll have his chance to prove himself as he faces a pesky Oklahoma State squad, then a match up with Pitt.

“Q” is for Quest.

Every team in the field is on a quest. It could be to win a single game, reach the Sweet 16, or win the National Championship. But this is what makes the NCAA Tournament so great, some teams can win only once in the tournament, yet still create the most memorable moment of the entire tournament.

“R” is for Ready.

Every team, particularly the top seeds, better be ready to play when the ball goes up because you can guarantee you will get the opposing team’s best shot for forty minutes.

“S” is for Shocked.

Which is what I’ll be if Pittsburgh does not make it out of this region. I mentioned above I think they received a good draw, but if they don’t make it to at least the regional final, then I think there needs to be serious questions raised about Jamie Dixon’s postseason coaching ability.

“T” is for Tubby Smith.

We love him here at the Pinkie. Good luck in the tournament Tubbster!

“U” is for Unusual.

Unusual describes the Wisconsin Badgers style of play. They slow it down big time and if the opposing team becomes impatient, the Badgers have you right where they want you. While we can debate whether or not Wisconsin is a good team, they can be a bad match up for many teams and we all know March is all about match ups.

“V” is for Villanova.

The best dressed coach in America, Jay Wright, leads a talented Villanova squad into the tournament, andthey are my pick to win the region and make it to Detroit.

“W” is for Win Baby.

The mantra of Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis is the goal of all the teams in the tournament. Don’t worry about how you win, just win and advance. Style points no longer matter.

“X” is for Xavier.

The Musketeers started out ranked in the top 10, but have struggled as of late. However, they have a great young coach in Sean Miller and will definitely be a tough out whoever they play.

“Y” is for Young.

As in Sam Young from Pittsburgh. This man is a beast and is a mismatch for most everyone he faces. I don’t see any team in this region who has a player capable of holding Sam Young in check. Look for Sam Young to go off during this tournament.

“Z” is for Zebras.

Bobby E. mentioned the officials during his breakdown and I couldn’t agree more. Pittsburgh is probably the most physical team in the country, but if DeJuan Blair gets a couple early fouls called on him, the Panthers instantly go from a great team to a decent team. The officiating will be critical for Pittsburgh in this tournament.


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