The bracket has arrived.
Louisville in the Elite Eight. Coming into the tournament hot after the Big East Championship, there aren’t any teams that can slow Terrence Williams, Earl Clark and the Cardinals down.
North Carolina in the Final Four. After being embarrassed by Kansas in the Final Four last year, North Carolina will be back in 2009. With Ty Lawson coming back from injury, the Tar Heels will be rejuvenated in what appears to be one of the easiest regions.
Michigan State. There are no stats for it but each year the Spartans find a way to win, and keep winning in March. Last year the fifth seed Spartans made it to the Sweet Sixteen, and the final four in 2005 as the fifth seed once again.
Dont Believe the Hype:
Pittsburgh is 0-3 in games where DaJuan Blair has 4+ fouls. If the Panthers’s big man finds himself in foul trouble, he could find himself on the bus back to Pittsburgh. If Pitt can find a way to protect Blair, then watch out, they are a very good team.
Oklahoma is another team that may look like a powerhouse. But don’t let the celebrity of Blake Griffin fool you. Last year Kansas State had the Big 12 and NCAA Player of the year in Michael Beasley, along with a quick explosive guard in Bill Walker; they didn’t make it past the second round.
Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons are a force to be reckoned with. With wins against North Carolina, Duke, Boston College, Florida State, Clemson and Maryland the 24-5 Deacs are very tough this year. It would not be surprising to see the Deacons in the Elite Eight.
Purdue was the pre-season favorite for the Big Ten; but after an injury to sophomore standout Robbie Hummel, Purdue lost games to Penn State, Ohio State and Illinois. Hummel is now back and the Boilermakers are the 2009 Big Ten Champions. They are getting hot and healthy at the right time, I have them in my Elite Eight.
Missouri plays in the same conference as Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State, Kansas and Texas A&M. Each one of those teams is in the tournament, one of those teams has the player of the year, and one of those teams is defending National Champs. Who won the conference tournament? Mizzou. The Tigers have beat Oklahoma State and Texas on the road, and beat Oklahoma at home. The Tigers are a balanced team. Their high flying offense averages about 82 points a game, while their defense only allows about 67 points per game.
Vilanova is a tough team to figure out. They have a strong record overall at 26-7, yet are only 3-4 against the top 25. But they are 13-5 in the Big East, this years toughest conference. They can shoot the three (36.8%) so if they start making shots, other teams will have a tough time slowing down the Wildcats.
South- Western Kentucky /Syracuse
Western Kentucky made the Sweet Sixteen last year. Tyrone Brazleton isn’t on the team this year, but another other Hilltopper star is. A.J. Slaughter comes into the tournament after being on last year’s team. Slaughter is averaging 15.8 ppg and is shooting 36.8% from three, look for Slaughter to take the Hilltoppers deep into the tournament. Since Chester Frazier has had surgery on his hand, the Illini have struggled after losing their assists and steals leader; so I don’t see how WKU will struggle with them. As for Gonzaga I’m unsure if they’ll even make it out of the first round, in both ’07 and ’08 the Bulldogs were bounced out of the tournament on the first day.
Syracuse has come on strong after a valiant showing in the Big East tournament. After going six overtimes with UConn, the Orange emerged victorious 127-117. As if six weren’t enough, the Orange played one more the next day. They took West Virginia five quarters and won 74-69. As if beating UConn and West Virginia weren’t enough, the Orange went to battle with the Louisville Cardinals. They lost 76-66 but the score doesn’t do ‘Cuse much justice, the game was much closer. Syracuse had an eight point lead at half. The Orange have some players too: Johnny Flynn averages 17.6 ppg and 6.7 apg, Eric Devendorf contributes another 15.9 ppg, and Paul Harris rounds out the lineup with 12.6 ppg and 7.9 rpg. I have the Orange in the Elite Eight, they’re getting hot at the right time and have all the players needed to make a run.
Louisville, Wake , Kansas, Michigan St, Connecticut, Purdue, Missouri, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Florida State, Villanova, Texas, North Carolina, Western Kentucky, Syracuse and Oklahoma
Louisville, Michigan State, Purdue, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Villanova, North Carolina and Syracuse
Louisville, Memphis, Villanova and North Carolina