Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Above the Rim: Bracket Busters




Today on “Above the Rim” I will attempt to use all the information I have gathered over the past few months to help you navigate the mine field which is the NCAA first round. It takes very little skill to pick the #1 seeds, so I will focus on the games that I think aren’t as obvious. Of course, I will not get many of these games correct, and the girl in accounting, who picks teams based on mascots, will walk away with the cash.

East

#6 Oklahoma (22-11) vs. #11 St. Josephs (21-12)
St. Joseph’s is an explosive team with great guard play. Conversely, the Oklahoma Sooners struggle to score points and are extremely prone to turnovers. I like the Hawk’s here and think they have a good chance to make it to the Sweet 16.

Midwest

#5 Clemson (24-9) vs. #12 Villanova ( 20-12)
The Clemson Tigers make it back to the tournament after a 10 year drought. Too bad they won’t be staying long. The Tigers reached their emotional high when they made the tournament and now they will lay an egg in the first round. The Villanova Wildcats are led by Scottie Reynolds and he is good enough to win at least two games in this tournament by himself. The Wildcats play a relentless man to man defense and will choke the life out of the less disciplined Clemson guards.

#6 USC (21-11) vs. #11 Kansas State (20-11)
I know I mentioned this game in the last article, but there is too much star power here not to mention it again. OJ Mayo and Mike Beasley are the real deal. They are men playing a sport with boys, but this game will come down to the coaches. Tim Floyd had the Trojans in the Sweet 16 last year and knows how to win close games. Look for Floyd to use gimmick defenses to throw Beasley and the Wildcats out of rhythm. I like the Trojans in a close game.

#7 Gonzaga (25-7) vs. #10 Davidson (26-6)
Gonzaga has now been on the scene for over a decade now and they no longer can sneak up on teams. To be honest, this team is much worse than it has been in the past and I expect them to be a one and done team. Davidson is led by Dale Curry’s son, Stephen Curry, who is averaging 25 points a game. This team also has the nations leading assist man, Jason Richards. Having two guards of this caliber is very rare and makes the Wildcats a very formidable foe for anyone. Look for Davidson to shoot Gonzaga out of the gym.

South

#6 Marquette (24-9) vs. #11 Kentucky (18-12)
I know Kentucky isn’t what they used to be, but Bill Gillispie has the Wildcats playing extremely tough defense and they have enough offense to survive. I am not sold on Marquette and they are one bad shooting day away from a quick exit. Dominic James is a solid talent, but he isn’t a big game player. I will take Kentucky in a low scoring affair.

West

#3 Xavier (27-6) vs. #14 Georgia (17-16)
Here is the deal with Xavier. They are coached by Sean Miller, who is a stud of a coach. They play great defense, they spread the scoring load out over a bunch of players, and they play in a weak Atlantic-10 conference. On the other hand, we have the Georgia Bulldogs, who are peaking at the right time of year. The Bulldogs are an athletic team who really believe in themselves. Look for Georgia to speed this game up and come away with a 5th straight victory.

#7 West Virginia (24-10) vs. #10 Arizona (19-14)
I know in the last article I made the claim that Arizona State deserved Arizona’s spot in the field, but truth is, Arizona is there and I like them to win their first game. I don’t like West Virginia and I think Joe Alexander is the most overrated player in the country. The Mountaineers have a good defense and a couple of good wins over UConn, but look for Arizona to be too athletic and run away with this game





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