Memphis Will End Bradley...s Run, Duke and Gonzaga Will Advance
By Shreyes Seshasi
The NCAA tournament enters week two today, as 16 teams battle it out for a spot in the Final Four. Here is a breakdown of the games by region:
1 Duke vs 4 LSU: LSU snuck past 12th seeded Texas A&M in the second round, and will have to play more solid ball early to have a chance against top seeded Duke. The Tigers, out of the SEC, rely on the strong play of center Glen Davis, but will have to get a poor shooting performance from Duke’s J.J. Redick in order to have a chance.
6 West Virginia vs 2 Texas: Both teams have looked strong thus far in the Tournament, but neither has really been challenged yet. Texas, a pick by many to upset Duke in the next round, can’t look past this Mountaineer team from the Big East. With names such as Kevin Pitttsnogle and Mike Gamsey still fresh in everyone’s mind from last year, West Virginia has the experience and toughness to pull out the upset:
Pick: West Virginia
1 Memphis vs 13 Bradley: For everyone who picked Kansas to go far, at least their loss was partly justified by Bradley’s upset of Pittsburgh in round 2. Bradley, the Cinderella team of this year, will face a stronger Memphis team looking to validate their position as a 1 seed. Perhaps it’s the lack of name recognition, but even if they have the easiest path to the Elite Eight in the tourney, give this team some credit.
3 Gonzaga vs 2 UCLA: In one of the most anticipated games of the round, Gonzaga, with Adam Morrison, the most recognizable player in the tournament, will have its hands full with a UCLA team that came out of nowhere this year to win the Pac-10. Gonzaga hasn’t looked good thus far, with close wins against Xavier and Indiana, and the rest of the team will have to step up if Morrison continues his poor shooting.
1 UConn vs 5 Washington: UConn survived a scare against Albany, but responded well against Kentucky, showing its ability to not only come from behind but also hold a lead. UConn, out of the Big East conference which earned a record eight bids into this year’s Tournament, is by far the deepest team in the country, and the losses of Tennessee, North Carolina, and Illinois has helped clear the team’s way to Indy.
11 George Mason vs 7 Wichita State: In perhaps the most surprising match-up of the round, Wichita State finds itself a favorite having upset (an overrated) 2 seed Tennessee. One of four teams to have come out of the Missouri Valley Conference, Wichita St. has done well representing the often overlooked Mid-Major conference.
George Mason, after upsetting two perennial favorites Michigan State and UNC, find themselves playing Witchita State for the second time in as many months, having beaten them at the end of the regular season. With a lot more on the line this time, look for the outcome to be much different.
Pick: Wichita State
1 Villanova vs 4 Boston College: Boston College survived a first round scare against Pacific, but played well against Montana in the second round. They find themselves against a talented Villanova team whose four guard lineup has caused problems for teams all year. With senior guard Allan Ray taking the shots for ‘Nova, BC needs to have another outstanding game from forward Craig Smith in order to have a change at the Elite Eight.
3 Florida vs 7 Georgetown: Florida looked strong last week, and it faces another Big East contender in Georgetown, who took care of Big Ten powerhouse Ohio State in the second round despite having only four of their players score. My respect for the Big East has only increased, despite disappointing losses from Syracuse and Seton Hall, and Georgetown has the offensive power to combat a Florida team who has folded under the pressure in the past several years.
My Final Four Picks:
Duke over Gonzaga, UConn over Villanova, and UConn defeats Duke (again) to bring the championship back to Storrs.