To the casual basketball fan who only pays attention to SportsCenter highlights about the top ranked team losing, the regular NCAA basketball season must have seemed like it was filled with constant upsets. No team spent more than a few weeks at a stretch in the Number 1 spot. Even then they were supplanted quickly - usually by a Big East rival.
To these fans, picking their brackets surely meant that the NCAA Tournament would see upset after upset with top seeds falling. I hope that these fans are in my bracket pool because this tournament has been surprisingly top heavy. Of the teams left in the Sweet 16, only 12th seeded Arizona is not in the Top 4 regional seeds. (Arizona’s place in the Sweet 16 should not be lost of those prognosticators who argued that Arizona had no place in the tournament to begin with.)
So we enter the weekend with teams vying for the right to play in the Final Four in Detroit. To continue my point about the tournament being top heavy, I see all the Number 1 and 2 seeds advancing to the Elite 8.
In Thursday night’s games, Number 1 seeds UConn and Pitt should dispatch their opponents with relative ease. I think the 2nd seed games should be the exciting ones with the higher seeds advancing. I am interested to see whether Coach K’s move to a more athletic lineup will finally be the answer to Duke’s Sweet 16 woes of recent tournaments. I also like the Mizzou’s match up against Memphis. For those fans who like back and forth action, these two teams should burn up the nets.
Friday night’s games should see Number 1 seed Louisville easily taking care of business. The rest of Friday’s games are much tougher to call. The ‘Cuse is hot and playing their best basketball of the year. I just don’t see them getting by this year’s Naismith winner, Blake Griffin, and the Sooners. The homer in me is picking the Spartans to beat the Jayhawks for the second time this year. To be honest, I can easily see a scenario where Kansas wins big by capitalizing on MSU’s penchant for turning the ball over.
Carolina and the Gonzaga is the prize of the Sweet 16 round. Gonzaga has never had a better and deeper basketball team than this year’s version of the Bulldogs. They have the tournament experience and talent to win the entire thing. I wish this meeting with Carolina would happen in the Final Four because I think this will be a classic. Should Ty Lawson’s toe get injured worse, Carolina’s chances of winning are greatly diminished. Frankly, I’d like to see the Zags make it to the Final Four…I just don’t think they will get by the Tarheels.
On your way to Detroit, don’t forget your handy dandy guide to the city . See you at the Town Pump.