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WEEK TWO PREVIEW: WASHINGTON REGION
March 22, 2006

Also See > Complete Washington Region Preview

(7) WICHITA STATE vs (11) GEORGE MASON

SCS.comThis is the most surprising Sweet Sixteen battle not only this year, but in as many years as I can remember. No Tennessee? No North Carolina? No Michigan State? Nope. All dismissed. Every one of 'em. That leaves the Shockers and Patriots to do battle, for the second time this season I might add. The two met in Wichita back in February with GMU picking up the road victory. Many expected George Mason (who just barely got in the Big Dance to start with) to have problems against Michigan State since the team's second-leading scorer, senior guard Tony Skinn, was suspended for round one. That wasn't the case, however. GMU took a three-point lead into the break against MSU and then exploded in the second half to take home a double-digit victory. UNC was the second round opponent, and though the game went down to the final minutes, it ended in another Patriot win. Wichita State eased past Seton Hall on day one and then upset Tennessee by seven in round two to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

The Shockers were the most consistent MVC team throughout the season and ended up winning that league's regular season title. The squad boasts four players who average between 10 and 13 points per game, led by 6'10" senior center Chris Miller who scores a baker's dozen while pulling down 7 boards. Sean Ogirri and Kyle Wilson each shoot over 43% from downtown, while junior guard/forward P.J. Cousinard, who can shoot the three himself, is the team's second-leading rebounder. GMU looks to counter the big man Miller with a big body of their own, as in 6'7" 275-pound forward Jai Lewis. The senior leads the team with nearly 14 points per game while pulling down 8 boards per contest. The Patriots will need to get the most out of that matchup because their guards' three-point shooting ability does not matchup well with that of WSU. No GMU player that scores more than 4 points per game shoots better than 37% from beyond the arc. In fact, while five GMU players tally somewhere between 11 and 14 points per game, no other Patriot scores more than 3.6 per contest. Those five will have to hang tough for the Patriots to advance.

STAFF PREDICTIONS
BEN CORTNEY DAVID JEFF JONATHAN REED
WSU WSU WSU GMU WSU WSU

(1) CONNECTICUT vs (5) WASHINGTON

It's Huskies vs Huskies for a spot in the Elite Eight. UConn has split time with Duke atop the polls all throughout the season and survived a first round scare from Albany before taking down Kentucky to advance to this point. Washington, meanwhile, seemed to be overlooked by a large number of people once the bracket was released. The Huskies, though, had no problems with Utah State in round one, before sneaking past Illinois by three to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. UW guard Brandon Roy led the team in scoring all season and did so again last week in both of the team's games. The senior averages more than 20 per contest while also pulling down a half-dozen boards and dishing out four assists. He is arguably the top remaining player in the Washington Region and a legitimate candidate for First Team All-American honors. Staying with the star-watch theme, how about Connecticut's Rudy Gay. Just a sophomore, the UConn forward is one of the nation's most athletic players. He scores more than 15 per game, pulls down 6 boards per contest, and throws down some of the best dunks these eyes have seen.

But while those two may go head-to-head, the other eight guys on the floor cannot be overlooked either. In addition to Gay, Connecticut boasts five other players who average between 10 and 13 points per game. Rashad Anderson is the Huskies' best threat from beyond the arc, while forwards Denham Brown, Josh Boone, and Hilton Armstrong do much of the team's dirty work. UConn appears to have the size advantage, as no Washington player taller than 6'8" sees significant minutes. Big man Mike Jensen will likely have to play a bigger role than usual; he averages just 5 points and 3 boards in 20 minutes. Forward Jamaal Williams is the team's second-leading scorer with 13 per game, while senior Bobby Jones scores 10 per contest. Two freshmen, Justin Dentmon and Jon Brockman, score 8 each per outing, while Florida transfer Ryan Appleby puts in more than seven himself. All will have to be on their game to take down the region's top seed.

STAFF PREDICTIONS
BEN CORTNEY DAVID JEFF JONATHAN REED
UConn UConn UConn UConn UConn UConn

REGIONAL FINAL

There appears to be little doubt among the SCS.com staff as to who will come out on top in this region. Connecticut has been a national title favorite all season long, but they'll have to pass two more tests before making a trip to Indianapolis.

STAFF PREDICTIONS
BEN CORTNEY DAVID JEFF JONATHAN REED
UConn UConn UConn UConn UConn UConn

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