Breaking Down the NCAA Tournament

A region by region look at the Big Dance

South Regional

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

West Regional

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

Midwest Regional

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

East Regional

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.

National Semifinals

#1 UNC over #1 Kansas
#1 UCLA over #2 Texas

National Championship

#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.

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21 Responses to Breaking Down the NCAA Tournament

  1. C. Michael says:

    My picks…

    Elite 8:

    East: UNC over L’ville
    Midwest: KU over Wisconsin
    South: Texas over Michigan St.
    West: UCLA over Purdue.

    Final 4:

    UNC over KU
    UCLA over Texas

    Championship:

    UNC over UCLA

    I’m not surprised we had the exact Final 4. With 9 combined losses, this is the strongest group of 1’s in 20 years. If you were ever going to go straight chalk, this would be the year.

  2. Will says:

    I sure hope we end up in San Antonio in 3 weeks.

  3. Tar Heel Fan says:

    CM,

    You have more confidence in Purdue than I do. And you also have three Big Ten schools in the Elite Eight. I thought they were a weak conference. 😉

  4. Tar Heel alum and fan says:

    All solid picks. Interesting that several analysts have UCLA beating UNC in the title game.To get that far I hope the Heels go off on one of those winning streaks in which it is clear they are the best team in the land,

  5. C. Michael says:

    Yeah, I noticed that when I finished and blanched a bit. This is a case of liking the matchups more than the team itself. Also, I think the Big 11 gets a bad wrap because their bottom teams are SOOO bad. The top Big 11 teams have done fairly well lately, just think to 2005 when UNC had to essentially win the Big 11 tournament to win the title!

  6. william says:

    I can’t wait for the game tonight! An all-Maryland match-up to face my Heels.

    On another note, you guys keep talking about the Dave Clark Five and I was at the used record store in Frederick and they had one Long Playing 33 1/3 record called the soundtrack from “Having a Wild Week-end/Catch Us If You Can,” which apparently was their version of “A Hard Day’s Night,” starring them in the lead roles. It sounds similar to early Beatles, but I am still on Side One. I can’t say that I recognize any of the songs but it was in excellent playing condition and seems like a pretty buy for $1.95.

  7. william says:

    O.K., now I recognize “Catch Us If You Can”–cool tune! Very Beatle-like….

  8. william says:

    They also had a Herman’s Hermits record, “Herman’s Hermits on Tour” for two bucks. I think this is even better than the Dave Clark Five. It has “For Your Love,” “Henry VIII,” and “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat.”

  9. Chris Tutino says:

    THF – I’ll be winning your office pool this year! Can’t wait to collect. Of course, I’m filling out 10 brackets this year in total spread out over 5 different leagues. And, of course, if the Heels don’t win, I’ll probaby be out a ton of cash b/c I’m picking them to win in every one! It worked out well in 2005…let’s hope they make it happen again!

  10. Josh Bowling says:

    William. You will instantly recognize “Bits and Pieces” and “Over and Over” by the Dave Clark 5. I am 34 years old and have grown up knowing and loving these songs. When I was younger, in the late 70’s early 80’s, these songs were on current radio at times. Now they are considered “oldies”. When I think of oldies, I think of the Clovers, the Dell Vikings, Billy Ward & the Dominoes, The Platters, Little Anthony & the Imperials. Now oldies consists of groups that were current when I grew up such as the Rolling Stones, Boston, Grand Funk Railroad, Journey, Fleetwood Mac, and on the R&B side Earth Wind & Fire, Kool & the Gang, The Whispers, The Commodores & so on. Let me know if you recoginize those two Dave Clark 5 songs WILLIAM!

  11. Josh Bowling says:

    I have UCLA & Kansas in my Finals game. UCLA will only have to face Duke to get to the final 4. Sounds automatic to me. Kansas will have a little rougher road, barring no upsets of teams they will have to encounter.

  12. All solid picks. I have Wisconsin winning the midwest region, and Clemson defeating Kansas.
    It seems that all the Husker football heads here are picking a KU-Texas final. Shocking for Big 12 country out here………..

  13. rbl says:

    All those who like “Oldies” need to get XM Radio and listen to the 50s channel.

    Another advantage of XM: those of us who have the vast misfortune of living outside NC can listen to the games on radio and mute the television. Trust me, I didn’t mind the10-second differential between Woody and the gang and Dick Vitale during the tournament.

    More to the point, I feel Carolina has an excellent shot at winning it all, but beginning with the second game, every opponent will be a challenge. Various analysts cite our Regional as the toughest. I’m not in the least bit afraid of the Volunteers. Bring them on, I say.

  14. Triadboy says:

    Call me crazy, but I think Clemson will beat Kansas.

  15. Triadboy says:

    I would say, the one team NO ONE wants to play in this tournament is UNC.

  16. TxTarheel says:

    I’d echo that, with Lawson getting healthier and Quentin proving a capable back-up the PG position seems in good shape. Ellington & Green got back in a groove, and Tyler will do well just what he’s been doing.

    Probably a lot of sentiment in picking UCLA ahead of UNC, given the baggage that goes with it & that Howland has them back reaching Final Fours & contending. If I picked a region to implode it would be theirs. Would be interesting to see Huggins take on Koach K in the 2nd round

  17. william says:

    Those two weren’t on my album, though, Josh. Catch Me If You Can is a great tune, though. I had no idea that both they and Herman’s Hermits made movies trying to copy the Beatles’ success in Help!

  18. DG4heels says:

    dook will lose to either West Virginia or Arizona in round 2. Mark it down.
    Unless, of course, Belmont doesn’t get them first!

  19. DG4heels says:

    dook will lose to either West Virginia or Arizona in round 2. Mark it down.
    Unless, of course, Belmont doesn’t get them first!
    Also, I believe that Clemson can beat KU, but only if they hit free throws.

  20. Tar Heel Fan says:

    If anything Belmont and Duke are going to chuck a lot of threes. They both have negligible inside presence and shoot from outside like it is going out of style. The difference is Duke drives and kicks, Belmont runs motion and screen.

  21. william says:

    Emmitsburg’s finest have beaten Coppin State and will face UNC on Friday.

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