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A First Look At The Brackets

Well, now, let's take a quick look-see at the brackets. This is a preliminary
glance: we go by gut feelngs and that could change between now and gametimes.

There's a lot of concern that Duke got a tough draw, and they did, but big whoop.
You have to play the best to be the best, and if you spend your time bitching about
the luck of the draw, you know what that makes you? A Terp fan. So don't sweat it.
If Duke has to play Kansas and Arizona to get to the Final Four, so be it. It just
thins out the competition, and odds are the competition will get thinned out anyway, as it
usually does.

Certainly both Arizona and Kansas have a history of early losses, and actually there
are some pretty good teams on Arizona's side of the bracket. Cincinnati is not our
favorite team and doesn't play our favorite style, but they can get hot and run someone
out of the gym. They'd have to beat Gonzaga, though, and Gonzaga would dearly love a
crack at Arizona.

Notre Dame might be to small to do it, and they haven't finished the season well

Illinois is well-regarded, but can Western Kentucky get some love? Dennis Felton
has done a brilliant job there, and this team is eminently capable of upsetting Illinois.

On Duke's side of the bracket, playing Colorado State in a Rocky Mountain atmosphere
could be disastrous. Duke could be sucking wind while the CSU players breeze by.
It's going to be a tough weekend in that regard. We don't know a lot yet
about Central Michigan, but Creighton has the celebrated Kyle Korver and an excellent
coach in Dana Altman.

Memphis is a dark horse pick by some people, and Arizona State, well, who knows, but
they still carry bad karma from taunting Steve Kerr after his father was assassinated, so
here's hoping it continues. Kansas has Utah State, and Roy Williams says he's
by the whole seeding.

Unless Rick Majerus pulls a great one out of his considerable keister, it's hard to see
anyone in the Midwest stopping Kentucky. We should say now that we radically
underestimated Kentucky after their ridiculously poor early season play. They've
become a great team and would be a deserving champion if they do win. In the
Midwest, putting IU and Bama together is pretty funny. It's like the play-in game for the
underachievers. Other darkhorses: Marquette, Missouri, and Dayton. Pitt-UK
would be a defensive classic.

ACC note: Derek Whittenburg got Wagner in.

In the South, Maryland has a dangerous foe in Wilmington and their star guard Brett
Blizzard. If you don't know about this kid, he can cut your heart out and eat it
while smiling at you while your life ticks away on the clock overhead. He's legit.
Plus Maryland is playing pretty erratically lately. We'll have some expanded
thoughts on that if the Terps lose.

If they win, Xavier awaits, and that's no day at the beach: David West is a
monster, and a rising star in coach Thad Matta. Skip Prosser's fingerprints are all over
that program, and you know what that means by now. We won't be surprised if Matta
calls Prosser for info on Maryland, but that doesn't mean Prosser will be forthcoming.
Coaching etiquette, don't you know - bad form to discuss conference rivals with others.
On the other hand, Gary Williams gave Mike Davis a scouting report on Duke last
year, so he can't bitch if Prosser does the same thing.

Past that group is Michigan State, Colorado, and Florida. MSU is not as strong as they
have been, and Florida has been on the skids lately. So we'll see.

Either UConn or Stanford could give Texas a game if they get that far. Note: the NCAA
screwed up and put BYU in a Friday/Sunday bracket. Mormons take Sundays seriously,
so they'll have to fix it somehow.

In the East, Oklahoma should run over SC State, of course, but since Duke used to play
them all the time we have a sense of who they are, and it's not a pathetic program.
They'll give OU more than they expect.

NC State and Cal....tough call, as 8/9 games always are. State is rising, though,
and that offense is hard to prepare for.

We'll take Butler in an upset over Mississippi State, and Louisville should advance.
By the way, pronunciation is really important. For instance: if it was pronounced
Lewisville, no one would take that school seriously. Viva la France!

Oklahoma State should have no worries with Penn, but we're not willing to just say
Syracuse will manhandle the Jaspers. Yes, they should, but Bobby Gonzalez is a very
sharp guy and he'll do better than expected in this game.

St. Joe's should beat Auburn, particularly if Cliff Ellis brings his usual lack of
concern for fundamentals, and Wake should handle ETSU, but a warning for Wake fans:
somehow a basketball culture evolved in East Tennessee, where football and baseball rule,
and so ETSU has some notable NCAA scalps, including Arizona's when Les Robinson was
coaching - or was it the year after he left? Wake should get either Syracuse or
Oklahoma State - we're guessing OSU unless we change our minds - and that's a great, great
game if you like defense and rebounding and bad hair styles.