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Monday, March 16, 2009

Analyzing the tournament, region by region

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KU gets No. 3 seed

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Complete coverage of Kansas' No. 3 seeding in the NCAA Tournament.

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2009 KU Selection Sunday

West Regional

This could be renamed the Top-Heavy Region.

With No. 1 seed Connecticut and second-seed Memphis, the power rests square at the top of the West Region.

For UConn, there’s an encouraging precedent. In both of the Huskies’ national championship seasons, they came out of the West to win.

Memphis has been playing the lack-of-respect card already, saying it deserved to be a No. 1 seed, and the Tigers had a very strong case. They’re a No. 2, which they’ll probably throw onto their emotional fire.

Funny things happen in the NCAA tournament, but it’s tough not to see the Huskies and Tigers tangling in Arizona in two weeks.

If there’s a sleeper, it’s probably Washington, which won the Pac-10 regular-season championship.

Upset special: 11th-seeded Utah State over sixth-seed Marquette. The Aggies went 30-4 this season with balanced scoring, aggressive defense and an ability to control the tempo. They’re just the kind of team that disrupts a bracket.

Don’t overlook: Mississippi State, the 13th seed. The Bulldogs had to win the SEC tournament just to get into the field, but if there’s such a thing as building momentum this time of year, they’ve got plenty of it.

Keep an eye on: The 10th-seeded Maryland Terrapins. When they’ve been good, they’ve been very good. Ask North Carolina. And if guard Greivis Vasquez gets going, he can carry a team on his skinny shoulders.

Seeded too low: Texas A&M; is the ninth seed, but the Aggies are dangerous. They went 23-9 in the Big 12 this season and have beaten Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma State.

South Regional

If the seedings hold in this region, the finals will match North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough against Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin.

That would be something to see.

There’s reason to think it will happen because the Tar Heels and Sooners have brackets they can handle.

The Tar Heels’ toughest game before a potential final might be a second-round matchup against the Butler-LSU winner. And everything is up in the air if North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson has a relapse of his toe injury.

The other prevailing question is how many overtimes Syracuse will play this week. They’re the most obvious obstacle on Oklahoma’s side of the bracket, but you can’t help but wonder if their emotional run through the Big East tournament might take its toll.

One more thing: The Akron-Gonzaga first-round game matches the Zips against the Zags.

Upset special: 11th-seeded Temple over sixth-seeded Arizona State. The way coach Herb Sendek’s Sun Devils folded down the stretch in the Pac-10 finals against Southern Cal raises serious questions about how they’ll handle the pressure.

Don’t overlook: Tenth-seeded Michigan. OK, it’s been 10 years since the Wolverines have been in the tournament, so there’s the potential for stage fright. But they’ve twice beaten the No. 4 team in the nation this year, Duke and UCLA.

Keep an eye on: Seventh-seeded Clemson. No one’s sure if the good or bad version of the Tigers will show up. They’re going the wrong way, having lost six of their past 10 games.

Seeded too low: Ninth-seeded Butler. The Bulldogs spent a good portion of the season ranked among the top 25 and have two dynamic players in Matt Howard and Gordon Hayward.

Midwest Regional

Louisville probably has the easiest route to the Final Four of the No. 1 seeds — which is how it should be for the top overall seed. The Nos. 2-4 seeds in this region — Michigan State, Kansas and Wake Forest — all flamed out early in their conference tournaments. Although Louisville didn’t have to play at Connecticut or Pittsburgh, the Cardinals did everything they needed to do — win the Big East regular-season and tournament titles — to deserve their perch.

Don’t overlook: Michigan State’s Raymar Morgan. Morgan was sick for several weeks this season — missing three full games — but is healthy now. He’s tough when he’s well, averaging 5.7 rebounds.

Upset special: Dayton over West Virginia in the first round. Mountaineers shouldn’t overlook Atlantic 10’s Flyers, who were a Top-25 caliber team for much of the season. A good 6-11 upset candidate.

Keep an eye on: Jeff Teague, Wake Forest: A second-team All-ACC player, Teague’s performance dipped in the second half of the season. He was all but invisible in the ACC tournament.

Seeded too low: Siena. The Saints played a tough non-league schedule early — losing to Pittsburgh, Oklahoma State, Kansas and Tennessee — that could serve them well now as a No. 9 seed. Siena is coached by former UNC-Greensboro coach Fran McCaffery.

East Regional

It’s possible that Pitt would be the top overall seed had the Panthers not lost so early in the Big East tournament. As it is, they might have gotten that extra rest necessary for a long run in the tournament. Pitt has never been to the Final Four, but this could be the year. The ACC beckons the Panthers, though. Florida State could provide an Elite Eight matchup, then second-seeded Duke could await in a regional final.

Don’t overlook: Duke’s Jon Scheyer. Since taking over as the team’s point guard, the Blue Devils have rounded into form. Coach Mike Krzyzewski said Scheyer’s better with the ball in his hands more.

Upset special: Virginia Commonwealth over UCLA in the first round. The Bruins have been to three straight Final Fours. That run ends quickly this season.

Keep an eye on: Toney Douglas, Florida State: The ACC tournament showed just how good this point guard is. Now he can display his skills on an even bigger stage.

Seeded too low: Tennessee. The ninth-seeded Volunteers felt the disrespect from the tournament committee after a down year for the SEC.

Comments

WilburNether 10 years, 10 months ago

Who is the McClatchy Newspapers clown who wrote this? It's no wonder there's no name attached.

"Texas A&M...went 23-9 in the Big 12 this season..." Oh, really? Gee, how mistaken we all were to think that Kansas won the league with 14 Big 12 wins. How did A&M manage to play 32 Big 12 games when everyone else in the league played 16? Wow, with an accomplishment like that, no wonder A&M made it into the tournament field.

Michigan has "twice beaten the No. 4 team in the nation this year, Duke and UCLA." What, was there a tie in the polls? Besides, last time I checked (yesterday during the Selection Sunday show), UConn was the No. 4 team in the nation -- and UCLA is one of the writer's first-round upset specials. S/he probably meant to say that Michigan beat two teams that were ranked No. 4 at the time Michigan played them, but a competent writer would state the point correctly.

But the next one is beyond incompetence. Regarding Pitt, "Florida State could provide an Elite Eight matchup, then second-seeded Duke could await in a regional final." Yo, McClatchy Newspapers sports writer -- the Elite Eight IS the regional finals.

Geez. Does anyone at McClatchy, or those newspapers that reprint this stuff, edit what these clowns write?

Mr_Sandman 10 years, 10 months ago

This article is garbage, I am sorry that I took the time to click on the link and skim through it.

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