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AROUND THE COLLEGE NATION
March 17, 2005

TOURNEY TIME!

The 2005 NCAA Tournament tips off today, and with that in mind, we continue to take a look inside this year's field. In this week's article, we glance at the bests and worsts of this year's bracket. From the toughest region to the most likely of all first round upsets, here's what to look for over the next few days and weeks as we head down the road to the Final Four in St. Louis....

RANKING THE REGIONS

From top to bottom, this is how the four regions compare:

(1) Chicago : Four teams (Illinois, Oklahoma State, Arizona, and Boston College) had hopes of number one seeds in recent weeks.

(2) Albuquerque : Washington and Wake Forest are not overwhelming, but Gonzaga and Louisville are especially strong at three and four.

(3) Syracuse : North Carolina, UConn, and Kansas are a solid top three, but Florida and Villanova at four and five are relatively weak.

(4) Austin : Duke is on fire, but Kentucky lacks depth, Oklahoma is overrated, and Michigan State doesn't compare with other five seeds.

MOST LIKELY UPSETS BY SEED

If you had to take one upset pick in each first round matchup, here are the best bets:

(1 vs 16) : Oakland over North Carolina - The Tar Heels' Rashad McCants is battling an illness, while Oakland is one of the nation's hottest teams.

(2 vs 15) : UCF over Connecticut - The Huskies are on fire but are a slightly high two seed. UCF beat a good Utah State team on the road earlier this year.

(3 vs 14) : Niagara over Oklahoma - The Sooners are another team I feel is overrated, and Niagara's Juan Mendez can take the game over all by himself.

(4 vs 13) : Penn over Boston College - Many feel the Eagles have been overrated all season, and the Quakers have lost just once since January 15.

(5 vs 12) : New Mexico over Villanova - The Wildcats have little postseason experience. UNM is rolling and is led by an All-American in Danny Granger.

(6 vs 11) : UAB over LSU - Both of these squads love to get up and down the floor, especially the Blazers. If UAB makes a few shots, the Tigers better look out.

(7 vs 10) : Creighton over West Virginia - The Mountaineers are another team without postseason experience. Creighton has made a name for themselves in recent NCAA years.

(8 vs 9) : Pittsburgh over Pacific - How Pacific responds to losing the Big West title is questionable, and Pitt has as much potential as anyone else in the Tourney.

WHO YOU'LL BE HEARING

When you tune into CBS this weekend for first and second round action, this is who you'll be hearing over the air at each site:

Indianapolis : Dick Enberg and Jay Bilas

Cleveland : Jim Spanarkel and Ian Eagle

Boise : Tim Brando and Mike Gminski

Tucson : Kevin Harlan and Dan Bonner

Oklahoma City : Craig Bolerjack and Bob Wenzel

Nashville : Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery

Charlotte : Jim Nantz and Billy Packer

Worcester : Gus Johnson and Len Elmore

 > Talk about it in The College Corner...

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