Sunday, February 25, 2007

Field of 65--version 8

(about 1 week has passed since last version)

UCLA (25-3); Ohio State (26-3); Florida (25-4); Wisconsin (26-4)
*Considering how talented the Pac-10 is this year, UCLA’s 14-2 conference record is all the more impressive. The Bruins' perimeter threesome of Arron Afflalo, Josh Shipp, and Darren Collison is tops in the nation. Combine that with a solid frontcourt and a number of super-athletic, extra-long bench performers, and you might have this year’s national champs. Even with their losses this past week, I really like this Wisconsin team.
North Carolina (24-5); Texas A&M (24-4); Kansas (25-4); Georgetown (22-5)
*If you look at the Jayhawks’ victory margins, it’s obvious they have the potential to make a big run in the tournament. I’m just not convinced that the effort is going to be there every night. Georgetown has now won 11 in a row. They also have about as much post depth as I can remember any team having within my viewing lifetime. Nobody is going to want to play them in the tournament.
Washington State (23-5); Memphis (25-3); Pittsburgh (24-5); Nevada (26-2)
*So, which elite program is going to steal Tony Bennett away from Washington State? Memphis is a total mystery heading into the tournament. They’ve been beating up on C-USA teams for so long that you have to wonder if they know how to compete against the nation’s best. Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon is a very underrated coach. His players play tough defense, and he gets the most out of their abilities.
Southern Illinois (25-5); Virginia Tech (20-8); Oregon (22-7); Texas (21-7)
*This was a big bounce-back week for Virginia Tech and Oregon. Tied for first in the ACC, the Hokies picked up wins against Boston College and Miami. After consecutive losses to Arizona, California, and Stanford, the Ducks picked up a couple of nice wins against Washington State and Washington. However, the fact that Oregon plays with such a small lineup pretty much assures their early exit from the dance. I don’t feel very good about Texas being a 4 seed. Rick Barnes has done an excellent job with this very inexperienced team, but I really think this spot is up for grabs.
Duke (22-7); USC (21-8); Notre Dame (22-6); Virginia (19-8)
*I’ve been sleeping on Notre Dame for too long. Virginia’s loss to Miami really hurts their chances at a higher seed. However, they do have Virginia Tech at home and Wake Forest on the road this coming week.
Louisville (21-8); Maryland (22-7); Marquette (22-8); Vanderbilt (19-9)
*As a Louisville fan, I couldn’t be much more excited about the futures of Derrick Caracter and Earl Clark. They haven’t been playing great as of late, but with their perimeter triad of Dominic James, Jerel McNeal, and Wesley Matthews, Marquette will be a tough team for anyone to play in the tourney. Vandy’s wings (Derrick Byars and Shan Foster) are outstanding. They’re long and athletic. Plus, they can shoot the three.
Boston College (19-9); UNLV (23-6); Butler (26-5); Kentucky (19-9)
*It will be interesting to see what the selection committee does about Butler. Yes, they started out great, picking up wins against Notre Dame, Indiana, Tennessee, Gonzaga, and Purdue, but they have losses to Indiana State, Illinois-Chicago, Wright State, and Loyola-Chicago.
Michigan State (21-8); West Virginia (20-7); Tennessee (20-9); Air Force (23-6)
*Michigan State is this week’s Louisville. The Spartans picked up much-needed wins against Wisconsin and Indiana. Thankfully, Air Force’s losses to UNLV and TCU mean we won’t have to watch the Falcons get an undeserved 4 seed.
Indiana (18-9); BYU (21-7); Arizona (18-9); Villanova (19-9)
*The only good thing about the Hoosiers’ recent troubles: D.J. White will probably be sticking around next year, which means he and Eric Gordon can spend next year dunking on people’s faces…together. Arizona hasn’t played consistently well all season. Yet, for some reason, they will get a higher seed than they deserve. Villanova freshman point guard Scottie Reynolds is going to be special (if he stays in school for at least 3 years).
Illinois (21-9); Stanford (17-10); Winthrop (25-4); Kansas State (20-9)
*Illinois is going to be a tough out in the tourney. Their post pair of Warren Carter and Shaun Pruitt is a beastly combination. Winthrop’s 4 losses are to North Carolina, Maryland, Wisconsin, and Texas A&M. Not too shabby.
Xavier (21-7); Syracuse (20-8); Purdue (18-10); VCU (24-6)
*I’m willing to bet that the selection committee will find some reason to leave Purdue out of the field. This will be one of the committee’s biggest mistakes. The Boilermakers have some nice wins (Oklahoma, DePaul, Virginia, Missouri, Michigan, Illinois, Michigan State, and Indiana) and star power (Carl Landry and David Teague).
Appalachian State (24-6); Davidson (26-4); Texas Tech (18-11); Georgia (17-10)
*Texas Tech doesn’t have a great record, but they have 2 wins over Texas A&M and one over Kansas. They also have Jarrius Jackson and Martin Zeno, one of the best duos in the nation. I have trouble giving Georgia a bid, but I also have trouble seeing the SEC as a 4-bid league. However, that might be what happens on Selection Sunday.
Missouri State (21-9); Akron (21-6); Long Beach State (19-7); Vermont (23-6)
*Missouri State gets my last at-large bid. And since there will be upsets in the conference tourneys, I really think there will only be 1 bid for the Missouri Valley (unless Southern Illinois gets upset in the MVC tourney). However, the media’s love affair with “The Valley” will no doubt inspire the selection committee to force another MVC representative into the field.
Santa Clara (20-8); Holy Cross (22-8); Marist (23-7); Western Kentucky (21-10)
*The Patriot League tourney may be worth watching if Holy Cross and Bucknell reach the finals. Western Kentucky gets South Alabama's spot after the Jaguars dropped games to Florida Atlantic and Troy this past week. It should be an interesting Sun Belt tourney.
Oral Roberts (20-10); Texas A&M-Corpus Christie (21-6); East Tennessee State (22-8); Austin Peay (19-10)
*I hope Tennessee Tech beats Austin Peay in the OVC tourney.
Weber State (18-10); Pennsylvania (19-8); Central Connecticut State (18-11); Delaware State (17-11); Jackson State (16-12)
*The Ivy League representative always gets seeded too high. I anticipate that this year will be no different.

IN: Georgia; Illinois; Missouri State; Texas Tech; Western Kentucky
OUT: Alabama; Clemson; Creighton; Oklahoma State; South Alabama


Blogger Runs With Two Horses said...

Central Connecticut State made the Top Ten on Sportscenter today. I don't know how you pulled strings to put a fake team's highlights on ESPN, but I admire your determination to convince us that CCSU is a real school. This shall be the grandest ruse in all of March Madness.

February 27, 2007 at 9:05 AM  

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