By: David K.
Overview: What stands out most about this regional, is the massive home-court advantage for (2) Duke and (3) Villanova. You pretty much write in each team into the Sweet 16 since the Dukies play in North Carolina and Nova is in their home city of Philadelphia. With Pittsburgh being the one seed, this is a fairly top heavy bracket.
Elite Eight Prediction: (1) Pitt beats (3) Villanova
Yes, my second all Big East Elite 8 match-up. I have Pitt winning the entire tournament and have been on that bandwagon for the past few weeks. The only thing that will stop them is if DeJuan Blair gets into foul trouble. Pitt is 0-4 when Blair fouls out of a game. Fortunately for them, there really aren’t a lot of big guys who will get in his way in this bracket. Villanova has the best guard play in the country with Scottie Reynolds and the Corey’s (Fisher and Stokes.) They go eight deep and their Sweet 16 match-up with Duke should be an absolute shoot-out.
Sleeper: (9) Tennessee
I like this Tennessee team, and not just because of Wayne Chism’s headband. When their offense is clicking, they can put up points with any team in the country. They tend to play out of control too often, but have the athletes and quickness to possibly upset Pitt in the second round.
Early Exit: (6) UCLA
The Bruins run of three straight trips to the Final Four will come to an end this year. UCLA has a tough first round match-up against VCU who has experience in knocking off a major program two years when they upset Duke in the first round. VCU’s point guard is Eric Maynor who will be a mid-first round pick and led VCU in that upset of Duke. Even if UCLA escapes out of the first round, they get Villanova in their home city. I am guessing there will not be a lot of Bruin backers making the long trip from Cali to Philly.
Most Intriguing First Round Match-Up: (7) Texas vs. (10) Minnesota
The Longhorns were a team I was very high on early in the season. But A.J. Abrams has not been able to find his shooting touch and it has really hurt the Horns. Minnesota surprised a lot of teams when they started the season 16-1. But the Gophs finished the year 6-9 and were lucky to land a spot in the Big Dance. Minnesota is at their best when their defense is suffocating and they are very deliberate on the offensive end (aka typical boring Big Ten ball.) I think Texas wins if Abrams is able to find his stroke early
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