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NCAA Tournament Preview

By: Jarrod Columnist
Contact Jarrod

NCAA Basketball Tournament


March 18 - 21

Tournament Bracket
Updated with Results

Kentucky Gonzaga Georgia Tech Kansas Providence Boston College Michigan State Washington
Lehigh / Florida A&M Valparaiso Northern Iowa Illinois-Chicago Pacific Utah Nevada UAB

Region Favorite > Kentucky
Kentucky The committee's overall No. 1 seed gets the play-in game winner in the first round. Kentucky has really established themselves as a title contender in the past few weeks by winning the SEC Tournament. UK doesn't immediately strike you as a great team, but they seem to do everything right and find ways to win. The 'Cats do have weaknesses, but they are few and far between. They should have no problem reaching the Sweet 16, but after that, their mettle will be tested. It will be interesting to see if this team can perform any different from last year's UK squad.

Region Dark Horse > Kansas
Kansas It's hard to think of Kansas as a dark horse, but nobody seems to be giving them a chance. They have played significantly better in the past few weeks and have 3 starters who have been to back-to-back Final Four's. Keith Langford seems to show up in the big games, and Aaron Miles has the kind of competetive spark that teams need in March. If J.R. Giddens can get hot from the outside, this team can beat anybody.

Best 1st Round Matchup > (7) Michigan State vs (10) Nevada
Michigan State vs Nevada This game looks like it will turn out to be a good one because Michigan State might just be looking ahead to Gonzaga. Nevada isn't a team to overlook. Nevada is another one of those teams that is deep and distributes the ball well. The Wolfpack did a good job of neutralizing Wayne Simien of Kansas in their meeting earlier in the season and will have great success against Michigan State if they can do the same to Paul Davis.

Best Bet for an Upset > (11) Utah over (6) Boston College
Utah vs Boston College Utah is a team that just hangs around, which doesn't bode well for a young BC team. The Utes have a ton of confidence after Nick Jacobson's buzzer beater earned them a berth. Utah also runs 10 deep and plays a solid game all the way around. If Utah can make some big shots down the stretch, look for them to pull the upset.

All - Region Squad
  • G - KIRK SNYDER : NEVADA : The junior guard can shoot, rebound, and slash with the best of them.
  • G - GERALD FITCH : KENTUCKY : Leads the Wildcats in scoring and 3-PT FG% and provides invaluable senior leadership.
  • F - WAYNE SIMIEN : KANSAS : Has been a formidable presence inside for KU all season long. Tenacious rebounder with good shooting touch inside of 15 feet.
  • F - RYAN GOMES : PROVIDENCE : Has led the Friars all season long in what has turned out to be a pleasantly suprising season for PC.
  • C - PAUL DAVIS : MICHIGAN STATE : Leads the Spartans in scoring, rebounding, and is steady from the free throw line at 79.2%.
  • Studying the Seeding
    From top to bottom, the St. Louis region is about as balanced as they come. Most of the higher seeds look to be safe, at least in the first round, but someone like Kansas could struggle with UIC if they have an off day. Gonzaga recieved a well-deserved 2 seed but didn't get any favors by getting the winner of Michigan State/Nevada, both of whom can give the 'Zags fits. Everyone seems to think Georgia Tech will have no problem reaching the Sweet 16, which is exactly why their first round game with Northern Iowa has upset written all over it.

    Rolling > Nevada
    Nevada While their NCAA Tournament bid might be very short lived, Nevada comes in having won 7 straight and 14 of their last 16. They have a prime time player in Kirk Snyder and a quality win over Kansas. The Wolfpack can do a good job of neutralizing one-dimensional teams but might struggle when they meet a foe that can go both inside and out, such as Gonzaga in the second round.

    Stumbling > Providence
    Providence The Friars lost their last 2 regular season games, both of them at home to Pitt and Boston College. They then turned around and bailed out of the Big East Tournament in the first round with a loss to Villanova. In order to make any kind of noise, Ryan Gomes will have to have stellar performances all the way around.

    Projected Winner > Gonzaga
    Gonzaga The smart money is on Kentucky, but they just don't seem any different from the team that got pummeled by Marquette in the regional finals last year. Gonzaga is very similar to that Marquette team and comes into the NCAA's sizzling, having won 20 games in a row, with their only losses coming to top seeds Stanford and St. Joseph's. This is supposedly the best Gonzaga team ever, and they have certainly proven it so far. The Zags are unselfish (18 APG) and have 10 players averaging over 10 MPG. Depth and unselfishness are two things that mix well in the NCAA Tournament.