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March 17, 2005

Bracket Projection

(1) North Carolina
North Carolina
(16) Oakland
North Carolina
(8) Minnesota
Iowa State
(9) Iowa State
North Carolina
(4) Florida
(13) Ohio
(5) Villanova
(12) New Mexico
North Carolina
(11) Northern Iowa
(6) Wisconsin
(14) Bucknell
(3) Kansas
(10) NC State
NC State
(7) Charlotte
(15) Central Florida
(2) Connecticut


(11) Northern Iowa : The Panthers are without doubt the weakest 11 seed in this year's Tournament, and 12 seeds UW-Milwaukee and New Mexico are actually better squads as well. Northern Iowa lost seven Missouri Valley Conference games, some of those coming to teams like Evansville (by 19), Bradley, and Drake. And when it came to crunch time in the MVC Tournament last week, the Panthers were unable to win even one game, losing their first round contest to SMS by eight.


(12) New Mexico : In the minds of many, the Lobos, who have won nine straight, did not remove themselves from the bubble until a late-Saturday MWC championship win over Utah. Even so, UNM was clearly the second-best team in the Mountain West all season, finishing three games behind the Utes in the league standings but picking up just one more overall loss during the year. Forward Danny Granger averages 19 points and nine boards each night out and can shoot the three.

Best First Round Matchup

(7) Charlotte vs (10) NC State : These two in-state rivals travel north and will go head-to-head in Worcester, MA. The 49ers have three players averaging 14 points or more, including forwards Curtis Withers and Eddie Basden who both average eight rebounds as well. But while Charlotte has lost three straight, NC State is coming off a trip to the ACC Tournament final. The Pack earned their way into the NCAA Tournament in the final weeks and is led by All-America candidate Julius Hodge.

Best Bet for a First Round Upset

(12) New Mexico over (5) Villanova : These 5/12 upsets are always a popular pick and for good reason. This one looks tempting because while the Wildcats have had a tremendous season, Coach Jay Wright's team is untested in the postseason, especially the NCAA Tourney. If UNM's Danny Granger heats up like he did last week against Utah, he is hard to stop and can carry the Lobos on his back. And speaking of heating up, New Mexico has lost just once since January 29.

Best Potential Second Round Matchup

(5) Villanova vs (4) Florida : If both teams survive the first round, this makes for a very interesting matchup. Both squads are playing good basketball right now. The 'Cats have little recent NCAA history and are making a comeback in the Big East, while Florida is coming off a SEC Tournament title but was upset by Manhattan in the first round a year ago. Nova has won ten of their last twelve, while Billy Donovan's team has come out on top in nine of their last ten games.

All-Region First Team

  G: Rawle Marshall, Oakland : 19.7 PTS, 44.1 FG%, 7.7 REB
  G: Ben Jacobson, Northern Iowa : 17.8 PTS, 49.0 FG%, 45.3 3PT%
  G/F: Julius Hodge, NC State : 17.0 PTS, 49.7 FG%, 6.8 REB
  F: Wayne Simien, Kansas : 19.4 PTS, 53.7 FG%, 11.1 REB
  F: Sean May, North Carolina : 16.7 PTS, 54.8 FG%, 10.9 REB

All-Region Second Team

  G: Anthony Roberson, Florida : 18.6 PTS, 48.6 FG%, 40.5 3PT%
  G: Curtis Stinson, Iowa State : 171. PTS, 43.7 FG%, 5.4 REB
  G/F: Vincent Grier, Minnesota : 18.1 PTS, 48.1 FG%, 5.3 REB
  F: Danny Granger, New Mexico : 18.5 PTS, 53.0 FG%, 8.5 REB
  F: Curtis Withers, Charlotte : 18.1 PTS, 44.0 3PT%, 8.3 REB

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