A region by region look at the Big Dance
Memphis has been locked into their #1 seed since projections were being released in earnest. The problem the Tigers face is the committee did not do them any favors with 2-4 seeds beneath them. Texas is the #2 seed and if Memphis faces them it will be in the Regional Final played in Houston. Stanford is the three seed and the 2nd best team from what is considered to be the best conference in the country. The clincher for Memphis is the #4 seed Pittsburgh which comes in as the hottest team perhaps in the whole tournament having survived the rash of injuries. I think the other problem you get with Memphis is their prolonged exposure to crappy teams during the regular season. It seemed to show up when the played Tennessee and the FT shooting will be an issue before it is all said and done. Miami was sent to the South and will play St. Mary’s. Should they advance then it is fairly certain Texas ends the Hurricanes’ stay in the Dance. I also would watch Michigan State and Marquette since both are well coached teams and also because they could get upset since they have shown the tendency to be inconsistent.
THF Pick: #2 Texas
Possible Spoiler: #4 Pitt
Potential 1st Round Upsets: #11 UK over #6 Marquette
ACC Team Prediction: #7 Miami loses in the 2nd round to Texas
UCLA should take care of business with a fair amount of ease in this regional. There just does not appear to be a legitimate threat to the Bruins. #2 seeded Duke might now make it to a regional final give how tired the Devils are and the fact they need to shoot well to win. #3 Xavier is good but not great despite what the RPI says. The potential Sweet Sixteen opponents for UCLA are either #4 UConn or #5 Drake and I do not see either of them being capable of hurting the Bruins though UConn does have the shot block seven footer Hasheem Thabeet who might give Kevin Love problems until Love drifts out to the perimeter which will open up the middle. Even the 2nd round game does not stand to be much of a challenge with BYU or Miss State potentially waiting for UCLA. It is a favorable road to San Antonio, so much so I wonder why they simply did not make UCLA the #1 overall seed since they set up their bracket that way.
THF Pick: #1 UCLA
Possible Spoiler: No One Comes to Mind
Potential 1st Round Upsets: #12 Western Kentucky over #5 Drake, #11 Baylor over #6 Purdue
ACC Team Prediction: #2 Duke loses in the Regional Final to UCLA
Like the West, #1 Kansas did not get a loaded bracket like you find in the South and East. The 8/9 game includes two mid-major teams which the Jayhawks should handle with ease and #4 Vanderbilt is overseeded. That opens the door for #5 Clemson to slip into the Sweet Sixteen and attempt to play spoiler for Kansas in Detroit. #2 Georgetown will have it’s hands full with #3 Wisconsin in the regional semis should both them advance that far. That game has the potential to be a plodding, low scoring affair. I just hope it is an early game if it happens. The Midwest Region is also where #10 Davidson was sent and for all the noise we have heard from Wildcat fans about how much they belong in the top 25 and should not be underestimated, my advice to them: Time to put up or shut up.
THF Pick: #1 Kansas
Possible Spoiler: #3 Wisconsin
Potential 1st Round Upsets: #13 Siena over #4 Vanderbilt, #10 Davidson over #7 Gonzaga
ACC Team Prediction: #5 Clemson loses in the Regional Semifinal to Kansas
This region is only slightly less tougher than the South in the top half and I think through the 8-9 seeds probably tougher. #1 UNC is also the overall top seed and faces a potential gauntlet of #8 Indiana, #4 Washington State/#5 Notre Dame and then either #2 Tennessee or #3 Louisville. And the #9 is Arkansas which almost won the SEC Tournament and could send turmoil ridden Indiana home to get a date with the Heels which is not any easier. Tennessee will probably face a very tough #7 seed in Butler for the right to advance to Charlotte. I think Louisiville has an easier path to the Queen City facing Oklahoma assuming they get past Boise State. If UNC gets to Charlotte facing either Notre Dame or Wash. State will be a tough matchup given the personnel those squads have and the level at which WSU plays defense. In the end I think it will be a UL-UNC final with the Heels advancing.
THF Pick: #1 UNC
Possible Spoiler: #3 Louisville
Potential First Round Upsets: #12 George Mason over #5 ND, #13 Winthrop over #4 WSU, #11 St. Joseph’s over #6 Oklahoma
ACC Team Prediction: #1 UNC advances to the Final Four
Final Four Predictions
The matchup of Roy against his former team in Kansas will happen in San Antonio with the Heels winning a tough game. UCLA will get revenge on Texas for an early season loss setting up a Tyler Hansbrough vs Kevin Love title game. UNC wins the national title mainly because Hansbrough will not be denied and Wayne Ellington has a Donald Williams type weekend in Texas.
#1 UNC over #1 Kansas
#1 UCLA over #2 Texas
#1 UNC over #1 UCLA
Disclaimer: I hate going chalk and the way these brackets look it is nearly impossible to guess which one of these highly touted teams is going to lay an egg versus an inferior opponent. I know only once have you had three #1 seeds and a #2 in the Final Four so I fully expect to be wrong on these predictions with the hope that I get the East and any UNC games in the Final Four right.