Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Here are my picks…

First round winners


Florida, Arizona, Butler, Maryland, ND, Oregon, Georgia Tech, Wisconsin


Kansas, Nova, Illini, The Cross, Duke, Pitt, Zaga, UCLA


UNC, MSU, Arkansas, Texas, Vandy, Wazzu, BC, Georgetown,


OSU, BYU, Tenn, Virginia, L’ville, Tex A&M, Nevada, Memphis

Second round winners


Florida, Maryland, Oregon, Georgia Tech


Kansas, Illini, Duke, UCLA


UNC, Texas, Vandy, Georgetown


OSU, Tenn, Texas A&M, Nevada

Elite Eight

Florida, Oregon, Kansas, Texas, Georgetown, Tenn, Texas A&M

Final Four

Florida, Kansas, Georgetown, Tex A&M

Championship game

Florida over Georgetown

South Region

Alright the final region and then the picks of George and I…

The #1 seed OSU is a good team but there are a few teams in this bracket that could up-end them…

1) Memphis – These guys are big, strong, and athletic…translation they play good defense. They also score nearly 80 points a game, and have a ton of size. They have one starter under 6’5”. Here in lies the rub, they played only 3 teams in the top 50 RPI and none between 51-100 in the RPI. They only have two guys in double figures in scoring but they go pretty deep and with some serious size. Dorsey averages 8 points and 9 boards a game. Their last loss was before Christmas, but they only beat one ranked team all year, Kansas. The catch with this team, they have one, ONE! Guys shooting above 70% from the free throw line As a team they shoot 61% from the line.

2) Tennessee – They have maybe the best shooter in the country in Chris Lofton, as he goes this team goes. He shoots 41% from downtown and 48% from the field. Since his return the Vols have gone 7-2 and he is back to averaging his normal 20 ppg. This team hammered Florida and were 8-6 against top 50 RPI. They don’t play great defense allowing 74 ppg, the highest I have seen so far. The key is the Vols have the Smiths, Jajuan and Ramar who average 25 points between them. They will need all their points to upset OSU, but Lofton is the type of shooter who could carry a team past the first weekend.

3) Texas A&M – Another team who had a great year and were rewarded with a 3 seed. Acie Law IV (why isn’t he called “the numeral” yet?) is clutch, it’s what he does. This team flat out does not get blown out, of their six loses only one was by more than two points. That can tell you two things, they keep close, and they cant quite finish. You decide. Here is some help, they won two games by 2 points. Meaning maybe they cant quite finish close games off…

OSU vs. CC State – Too much firepower. OSU wins.

BYU vs. Xavier – I know nothing about BYU. They are pretty solid, they beat Air Force twice, beat UNLV once. They score 78 points a game, and they have some dudes who are a little older due to mission work through BYU. They have nine guys who play 10+ minutes; Danny Ainge’s kid is running the show (hopefully better than he is running the Celtics right now). Keena Young scores 17 points a game. Xavier I know nothing about either. They shoot 39% from three point land, and play ok defense. They beat up on 51-100 RPI team going 9-3. They have a little size and some depth, they play efficient offense, No. five in the country.


Louisville, Creighton

Alright I have grown tired of this lets move onto George’s picks…

East first round winner picked by a coin…

UNC, Marquette, USC, New Mexico State, GW (haha, George picked his own school…will I don the same thing?), Wash, ST., BC, Georgetown

South first round winners picked by a coin….

OSU, BYU, Long Beach, Albany, Louisville, Texas A&M, Nevada, Memphis

George’s sweet sixteen…

Florida, Butler, Miami, OH, Georgia Tech, Nova, Holy Cross, Duke, UCLA, Marquette, New Mexico, Wash. St., Georgetown

George’s Elite Eight…

Florida, Miami, OH, Holy Cross, UCLA, New Mexico, Goergetown, Long Beach St.

George’s Final Four…

Miami OH, UCLA, New Mexico, Long Beach

George’s National Final…

UCLA vs. Long Beach St.

George’s National Champ…

Long Beach St.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

East Region

Alright, so after sleeping like I am on spring break (read: until noon) I am wiping the eye boogers out and trying to figure out the toughest part of the bracket, the East Region. This region is the toughest for one reason, it has three teams that if they were spread out regionally they could be three of the final four: UNC, Georgetown, and Texas.

Teams that can beat North Carolina:

1) Texas- All you need is Durant. He has proven to be good enough to win games by himself all year. The thing is he has some talent around him. Durant and D.J. Augustine could be this years Carmelo and Jerry MacNamara. Two freshman riding the wave of March Madness to the Championship, throw in A.J. Abrams and his 15 points a game and we might have a magical run to watch. We all know why they can beat UNC, but can they stay fresh enough to get that far? They just had a tough weekend with a lot of basketball and then throw in the coaching intangibles, Roy Williams has them and Ricky Barnes does not. Their youth could be to their advantage or disadvantage, time will tell.

2) Georgetown- I have talked about this team a few times on They are solid, Jeff Green is starting to get recognized as a very talented big man who complements Roy Hibbert very well. Green also finds himself as the man the team looks to in the clutch. He has hit numerous game winners this year and carried his team down the stretch. This team rolled through the Big East. Its biggest threat to losing is if Roy Hibbert struggles, which he tends to do sometimes. He has scored in single digits in 4 of his last 8 games. They only lost one of those games though, showing that they can overcome Hibbert’s struggles through Green and Jonathan Wallace. The team shoots 50% from the field and holds it opponents to 38% shooting. They are 13-6 versus teams with top 100 RPI. A favorite in some people’s bracket’s for a reason, if they can slow down the running teams and not get sucked into a run and gun pace (see: UNC) they could go far.

3) Vanderbilt- My sleeper in this bracket. I saw them beat Florida earlier this year at Vandy. They held off numerous charges by the Gators with some timely shooting and good defense. They don’t play scared; they play wide open hoops and love to shoot the ball. Derrick Byars and Shan Foster combine for 32 points, 9 boards, and 6 assists. Dan Cage and Ross Nelter also loom as a nice threat to be that third scorer that any team needs to make a run deep into the tourney.

4) Marquette – This team is another threat in the second round if they can get past MSU (my constant bug-a-boo every year). This team is loaded with guards and Dominic James is the ring leader. They only have three guys 6’9” or taller, and none of them play too much. So they are dependent on their little guys. UNC’s size could prove to be too much if they can utilize it.

UNC vs. Eastern Kent – No brainer, UNC cant lose this game.

Marquette vs. Michigan StateSomehow Michigan State ruins my bracket every year. Either I pick them to make a run and they don’t or I pick them to lose in the first round (like against Old Dominion two years ago) and they make a deep run. I don’t know what to think about this team. Marquette is 5-6 vs. top 50 RPI and finished 5-5 in their last ten. MSU has a talented scorer in Drew Neitzel. They are 6-9 vs. top 50 RPI. They did beat Texas and lost to Ohio State and Wisconsin each by a point. This team rebounds very well with three players averaging 5+ rebounds a game. It is a very young team, Neitzel is the only key player from the run to the Final Four two years ago, everyone else is a freshman or sophomore. MSU has beaten Wisconsin and also lost by two on a last second three by Cammron Taylor.

Texas vs. New Mexico State – Kevin Durant…

Vanderbilt vs. George Washington – Vandy I have discussed. GW I don’t know much about. They have a scored in Maurice Rice who averages 16+ ppg. Carl Elliot and Rob Diggs combine for 24 points also. They match up with Vandy in that they run and press.

Washington State vs. Oral Roberts – Weird game. Everyone on Sunday night had Oral Roberts as a sleeper and now everyone is saying watch out for Wazzu. No idea what to think. Wazzu plays good defense and don’t have any outright studs who can score the ball. It seems like they love to dare teams to shoot the three. They are 4-5 vs. RPI top 50 but beat up one RPI 51- 100 going 8-1. This team was picked last in the Pac- 10 preseason poll and surprised everyone. Can they continue to do that? Junior guards Derrick Lowe (no not the pitcher) and Kyle Weaver will have to play lights out to get deep into the tourney and they better hope they don’t run into a hot three point shooting team. Oral beat Kansas early this year, they have two guys who can pour it in: Caleb Green and Ken Tut (who might be called King Tut if they pull off a win). Here is my issue with this team, they have 22 wins, 19 of them come against 151 RPI or lower. That leaves three wins against top 150 RPI, not very impressive. Oral’s RPI is 90, Wazzu’s record against 51-100 RPI is 8-1.

BC vs. Texas Tech – Bobby Knight cant win tournament games. BC hasn’t been playing well of late, something has got to give. I don’t know what it is going to be. BC has four guys scoring in double figures, but one of them got kicked off the team months ago, oops. Sean Williams and his 12 points are long gone. They lost 5 of their last 7 games, they are tired and frankly I hate this team because they are a bunch of thugs. However Dudley is really good but Texas Tech has some scorers of their own. Jarrius Jackson and Zeno score 36 points between them but they have no one else who can score. Not one other player averages double figures. Tech did beat Texas A&M twice and Kansas once. That is pretty impressive.

Georgetown vs. Belmont – Forget about it…Georgetown, but look for Belmont to give them a hard time as they know how to shoot it from 19’9”.

Sleepers in the East

Vandy and MSU

Monday, March 12, 2007

West Region

This bracket is pretty solid. Kansas is going to be really hard to beat, they are loaded with talent everywhere and are starting to peak. The only hang up, their past two years in the tourney have been short visits. Coach Bill Self and Junior guard Russell Robinson are the only two pivotal players who have the wounds from those two loses. Every other player logging more than 20 minutes a game is a freshman or a sophomore. They beat Florida early in the year and also beat Oklahoma St. when they were ranked #10. Teams that can beat Kansas:

1) UCLA – I love this team, I have watched them on and off all year. They are so much fun to watch Ben Howland is one of the best coaches of this decade. Look what he did in Pitt and now at UCLA. Aaron Afflalo is one of my favorite college players, he is so athletic and can make shots from anywhere on the court. Darren Collison is the real deal too, he can step and hit shots if he has to, but he would rather defer to Shipp and Afflalo. His vision is awesome. Another strong point of this team, their top seven scorers were all on the team that made the final last year. Experience and talent can go a long long way…
2) Southern Illinois- As a Holy Cross grad this sucks to write, but this team is pretty solid. They are experienced with Falker and Tatum scoring 27 points between them. They allow 56 ppg as a team but only score 63 themselves. Not a ton of size and don’t get a ton of production off the bench.

Kentucky v. Villanova- I like the Wildcats in this one…get it? Anyways, This game pits two teams from power conferences who got in because they are in power conferences. Kentucky doesn’t impress me much, they don’t stand out at all, they have lost ALL six games against ranked opponents this year. They were also 5-9 versus RPI top 50 teams This team sputtered down the stretch and might surprise people in a bad way, by exiting early. Villanova has a killer freshman scorer at point guard named Scottie Reynolds. They also have Curtis Sumpter back on track scoring 17+ ppg. Mike Nardi is a big time ace in the hole. If he shoots the ball well watch out.

Southern Illinois Vs. Holy Cross- The last game played in the first round is the one I cant wait for. Holy Cross played a great regular season, they played Duke and Syracuse well on the road and beat Bucknell twice. They have a few big men, namely Tim Clifford and Alex Van Der Baan who complement Keith Simmons and Torey Thomas. Van der Baan could be the key to this game, he always brings energy and is second to Simmons on the team in boards. The team defense and offense are nearly identical to Southern Illinois’. That means that the game will be won in two places, the free throw and the bench. Both teams need their big men to stay out of foul trouble. Pat Doherty can make a huge impact with his shooting and ball control off the bench.

Duke vs. VCU- hmmm, Duke in the tourney. 9 straight trips to the sweet sixteen. I don’t know if they will make it that far, but I cant see this team losing to VCU. Pride and talent are just too high even though they had a rough year. Duke can play really good defense, and they will slow down VCU’s attack. Paulus is key to handling the VCU press, and in turn that will stop the VCU scoring attack.

Pittsburgh vs. Wright State – I don’t like this Pitt team, some people do. They are tired. Their star Aaron Grey openly said he gets tired having to play a lot of games, well they have played a lot of games in the past week and it might catch up with them against Duke or VCU.

Indiana vs. Gonzaga – Gonzaga is back where they are comfortable and will be playing on the west coast. They want that shot at UCLA in the second round and they will get it…

Gonzaga and maaaaaayyybbbbeeeee Illinois…

Ok so now let’s go to George’s picks…here is the way this will work. I am going to do it round by round. Heads will mean George picks the higher seeded team and tails picks the lower seeded team (6 is a higher seed than an 11 seed). He automatically gets the one and two seeds into the second round, other than that it is all George…

Midwest Region first round winners according to George…

#1 Florida vs. #16 Jackson State: Floriduh

# 8 Arizona vs #9 Purdue: Purdue

#5 Butler vs. #12 Old Dominion: Butler

#4 Maryland vs. #13 Davidson: Davidson

#6 Notre Dame vs. #11 Winthrop: Notre Dame

#3 Oregon vs. #14 Miami, OH: Miami

#7 UNLV vs. #10 Georgia Tech: Tech

#2 Wisconsin vs. #15 Texas A&M CC: Wisc.

West Region:

#1 Kansas vs. #16 Florida A&M/ Niagara: Kansas

#8 Kentucky vs. #9 Villanova: Nova

#5 Virginia Tech vs. #12 Illinois: Illini

#4 So. Ill vs. #13 Holy Cross: HC

# 6 Duke vs. #11 VCU: Duke

#3 Pitt vs. #14 Wright State: Pitt

#7 Indian vs. #10 Gonzaga: Zags

#2 UCLA vs. #15 Weber State: UCLA

Midwest Region

Alright I am back and I have perused the bracket a little bit and man am I scared, I really hate this thing, but there is nothing better than picking a Cinderella…

Let’s start with the Midwest region. This is an interesting region because firstly it has Florida, defending champ, and you automatically look for a team who might beat them before the Final Four. Teams that could do it:

1) Arizona- A team that can explode big time, they have three guys who score more than 15 points a game. The 80 point mark seems to be a big one for these guys, they went 12-1 when scoring more than 80. Chase Budinger might be one of those freshman everyone is talking about at the end of the tournament, especially if they beat Florida in the second round. They also have senior leadership at the point in Mustafa Shakur, a must have in this tournament if you are searching for an upset. However, the chronic inconsistency that this team has shone this year should make anyone picking them a little nervous…
2) Wisconsin- A team that will just beat you up. Alando Tucker is a stud and Kammron Taylor is clutch (see jumper on senior day last weekend against Mich. St). Those guys can carry the team, and they love to bang and play good tough defense. Obviously the Big Ten plays that way and one has to question whether they can open up and score with a Florida or an Oregon (who they could meet in the sweet 16), they have not scored more than 80 points since December 27 against Gardner Webb…
3) Notre Dame- Scores in bunches with five guys averaging 10+ points…They shoot 40% from 3 point land and score 81 points a game while allowing 67 a game. That is a pretty strong showing. Falls and Carter make this team run with their 3 point shooting, if there was a team that will live and die by the three this team is it…The question is will they die against Winthrop like so many people are predicting, Winthrop seems well coached and might be prepared to stop the shooters (the Winthrop coach was in ESPNU last night, man he knows his stuff).

No other team in that bracket stands out as a team who can beat Florida. Oregon is too inconsistent. They might get a few wins on the back of that awesome back court of Aaron Brooks and Tajaun Porter (31 points and 6 assists between them). They can score in bunches but their up-tempo pace and heavy guard play wont match up well with Florida.

This region strikes me as difficult because there are so many tough first round match-ups. Notre Dame and Winthrop is so tough, Winthrop gave Tennessee, and my bracket, a big scare last year. Their top seven scorers were on that team and are making their third straight tournament appearance. It also seems like they struggle against deeper more physical teams. They gave Wisconsin a good run only losing by three and also only lost to UNC by seven points. Their four losses on the year were all to ranked teams, pretty impressive and they will match up with two run and gun shoot first ask questions later teams in Notre Dame and then most likely Oregon.

Arizona v. Purdue is a weird one too. Arizona I already talked about, but Purdue had a nice run in the Big Ten tournament and have a big man in Carl Landry who scores 19 ppg. One thing I have noticed this tournament is heavy on is guards, young guards. I think some big men could play a key role in this tournament, as they seem to be very rare. Arizona has some big men of their own, could be a very good game…

Davidson v. Maryland- Don’t know much about Davidson except that they have a freshman point guard Stephen Curry who can shoot like his father, Dell. He scores 21 a game, he is the mid-major Kevin Durant. Davidson. They score 80+ points a game, but they have no seniors and need their opponents to run and gun with them in order to win. Maryland, even with (once again) two freshman point guards have some solid senior leadership from Mike Jones and D.J. Strawberry. This team hasn’t been in the tourney in 2 years, so we will see if they can handle Winthrop and the big stage.

ODU v. Butler – 12-5 match ups will be tackled later…

Sleeper team:
Georgia Tech. Tough ACC tested team, could knock off Wisconsin in second round.
Coming soon...West region review...

George, a nation, and I

We have reached another March, one full of hopes, one looked forward to since the Super Bowl ended. This March I am not going to stare at my bracket and utter to myself, “this is the hardest bracket ever.” I do that every year, and every year I prove myself right by picking like I have never watched sports in my life. The ironic thing about this silly sheet of paper with branches on it is that those who don’t watch sports do a better job at filling it out. Why? Because they don’t care, they don’t know…whoever said ignorance is bliss definitely filled out an NCAA bracket. This year I am going to test myself against a dead guy, a dead president to be exact, and the masses. I am going to fill out my own bracket, then fill one out like the masses have chosen, and finally I am going to ask George Washington to help pick the third bracket. His bracket will be decided by a flip of his coin…the quarter. I am going to pick 8 games for him; those games are the 1 vs. 16 and 2 vs. 15 matches. Everything else will be chosen by a flip of ‘ole George’s face.

I am terrible at filling these brackets out, I have tried to do my homework and I have tried to go on gut reactions. I have decided this year to do a little research before throwing my picks into the ring. I will post George’s picks first, he has no research to do, then I will post mine with some sort of explanation (most likely incoherent). Then on Wednesday night I will post what “sportsnation” picked.

So last Friday I got to attend my third Patriot League Championship game in five years. I was 1-1 in my first two, seeing Holy Cross beat American in 2003 and losing to Bucknell in 2005. Those two experiences were different than this one for a couple reasons, I wasn’t a student anymore, I was actually sitting in the “seat-back” seating on the balcony. It felt weird, I was with my brother and we were both sober. I was wearing a tie from work. The one thing that was the same was the environment. Bucknell filled two fan sections and also had their band with them. Seeing the game from the balcony was very different, it made it feel even more like a pit as I was looking down at the court. I think my vantage point was probably more like what the viewers at home had. As soon as we sat down Torey Thomas turned the ball over, I turned to my brother Ryan and said, “Torey is gonna cost us the game.” Man was I wrong, Thomas had a phenomenal game. Scoring 28 points and hitting a few huge buckets down the stretch. It was a game very similar to the championship game two years ago except that Holy Cross was trailing by about 20 points and battled back. In this case Bucknell battled back from a 46-27 deficit to tie it at 51-51 with the ball. When it was 46-27 Bucknell brought the ball down and HC was smothering them, but the Bison managed to get John Griffin a look from the corner. The ball somehow hit the front of the rim, bounced straight up into the air, and then fell straight through. You could feel the HC deflate a little. I told my brother to remember than bucket. 8 minutes later the game was tied, and that three got it all started. It was like a football team struggling offensively and then getting a first down and gaining some confidence. Bucknell never got the lead, mainly because Holy Cross made all but one free throw in the last 6:00 (I wanna say they hit 11 of 12). Torey Thomas, the man I thought would cost them the game, won it for them. He led the team in points, rebounds, and had four assists. Keith Simmons and Torey Thomas will give the Salukis a lot to worry about. The game will be a low scoring affair considering both teams play fantastic defense. Never underestimate the power of seniors having control of when they play their last game, I saw that power last Friday and I really hope I get to see it again this Friday…
Later on, George’s picks and some more thoughts from me as a dive into this bracket…