The NCAA released the field of 65 for the men’s basketball tournament today.
A few observations on the tournament field, by regional, with an admittedly blatant emphasis on ACC teams, and teams from North Carolina (my upbringing probably goes a long way towards explaining why I thought this post was appropriate under the “Culture” section, although it was a toss-up between that and “Politics.”)
– By making UNC the #1 seed in the Syracuse Regional, which most commentators believe is the toughest, the committee seems to be saying “Look – you guys have the most talent. Time to prove yourselves.” Aside from UNC, the Syracuse Regional includes a bunch of teams that have been consistently good all season, like Kansas, UCONN, Florida, and Villanova, as well as some more inconsistent wild cards who can beat just about anybody on a good night, like Charlotte and N.C. State.
After the Syracuse Regional, it is very debatable which bracket is the next toughest:
– In the Austin Regional, #1 seed Duke has to be nervous about the talented Syracuse and Kentucky teams, and also Oklahoma, a team the Devils faced earlier this season that has gotten a lot better since then. And don’t forget about #5 seed Michigan State, a program that has had quite of bit of NCAA success during the last decade.
– The Chicago Regional seems to be the one that will have the most first-round blowouts, but #1 seed Illinois has to watch out for Oklahoma State and Arizona, as well as Boston College, a team that has been in the top 10 for most of the second half of the season, and probably deserve better than a #4 seed. I’d bet on BC to beat the spread on this one. And watch out for #6 seed LSU, featuring Glen “Big Baby” Davis, an immovable inside presence who is listed at 6’9″, 310 pounds, but is thought to be closer to 350.
– Albuquerque is most the intriguing regional. After a number of major upsets during the last week, #13 Washington came out of nowhere to became a top seed. According to ESPN, the committee was very impressed with their win over Arizona. I think making them a #1 seed over Wake Forest, Kentucky, and Louisville is crazy.
Number two seed Wake Forest would almost certainly be a #1 seed if they hadn’t lost to NC State on Friday, in a game that was impacted by the one-game suspension of their point guard Chris Paul – arguably the best at his position in the country – after he punched NC State’s Julius Hodge in the crotch during their regular season closer last week. The suspension was fair, but Wake is definitely one of four best teams in the country. Is it politically incorrect to give the ACC three of the four #1 seeds?
Louisville, Gonzaga, and Bobby Knight’s Texas Tech are tough, too. Georgia Tech is the X factor. Ranked in the top 10 at the beginning of the season, the Yellow Jackets suffered a bunch of injuries, wound up with a mediocre record, and just got all of their starters back in the last couple of weeks. They beat #2-ranked Carolina yesterday, and gave #5-ranked Duke a scare in the ACC Tourney final today. The Yellow Jackets – with their swarm of skilled, athletic guards, and a skinny Australian 7-footer who, suprisingly, can hold his own against top big guys like Carolina’s Sean May and Duke’s Shelden Williams – are likely to become at lot of people’s dark horse when they start looking at the brackets.
Please give any comments on the regionals, dark horses, and intriguing potential matchups.Powered by Sidelines