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Duke Gets Brutal Region; ACC Gets Five & The Pack Is Back!

So, a more careful look now at the brackets. We haven't seen dates for everything yet, but we read earlier that every ACC team plays on Friday. Interesting if so, with the potential of a second Black Friday.

Duke gets Lehigh to start with, and they're not bad actually: they gave Michigan State a good game earlier this year. They gave St. John's a tough one too.

They're not a big team, but they have lots and lots of mid-sized guys to run at you.

After them, if Duke advances, it's the winner of Notre Dame-Xavier.

Mike Brey has done a remarkable job this year, not least of all because he lost his best player, Tim Abromaitis, to a knee injury. Yet the Irish managed third in the Big East.

Xavier is sort of in rehab still after that fight with Cincinnati. Though Tu Holloway came across as a thug, his play since suggests he's a far more sensitive person than he appeared on that occasion. This is a team, you'll remember, that was tipped for a possible Final Four berth.

In other words, not an easy weekend.

Not that our fellow ACC teams will have one either. Virginia gets Florida and we're inclined to think they could frustrate them. But even if they do, they get Marquette afterwards and that's no day at the beach either.

Tony Bennett is a tremendous coach, but there's only so much you can do with seven players. We admire their courage but reality is about to set in.

For the Seminoles, a team that's grown up rather quickly although they have to avoid turnover relapse, they could really go deep this time. St. Bonnie's won't beat them. Cincinnati might, if they can match their defense, but we don't think Texas can.  And while Ohio State is really good, they're not that great lately. They look reasonably mortal. The FSU team we saw Sunday can beat them. And most teams really.

Here's an interesting thought: say Lamar beats Vermont, which we'd hope they would.  Then say Bob sits down with Pat and gives him the benefit of his 50 years in the game...could they come up with a plan that would work? It'd be a stretch to beat UNC, but when your dad is Bob Knight, that comes with March benefits.

Duke's bracket is probably the toughest - aside from that first weekend, there's Baylor (payback), Vegas (payback), Kentucky (eternal payback apparently). Pretty much everyone is good. Actually, we think Kentucky might have a real problem in the second game, because UConn has most of what they have plus experience.

UNC has a challenging bracket too though. Creighton is a very well-coached team and Harrison Barnes will meet up with his high school teammate Doug McDermott, who has had a great career at Creighton to date.

That's assuming they beat Alabama, and our money would be on Creighton.  But 'Bama, while not great, ain't bad.

We like Temple and Michigan to advance and anyone in their right mind is scared of Michigan.  John Beilein's offense can be remarkably explosive. It's beautiful when it's really working.

Surprisingly, State is in their bracket. They had to go with another ACC team, true, but seems a bit much.

Other than their crippling stupidity at the end of the UNC game, State was truly impressive in Atlanta.  We've always liked the Pack - the red, the brash nature of the program - they rock, and they should play with a real flair.

San Diego State has become a really solid program, so State has no guarantees here.  And they'd get the winner of Georgetown-Belmont for a bonus prize: not much fun either way.  Georgetown is cerebral and Belmont just runs and guns you to death.

Still, the winner of St. Mary's-Purdue probably won't go far. We're reasonably sure Kansas will take Detroit, but we're not really up on Detroit either, so who knows.

Assuming it's KU, they're in for quite a game if they get that far.

We also think that Davidson has a good chance of taking Louisville which would be very cool. For some reason the Wildcats are always underestimated.

Well maybe not by Kansas, having nearly lost to Stephen Curry's bunch in the regional finals and then losing to them in December.

But other people might get suckered.

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