Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Lower Seeds I Like: Atlanta and Oakland Regions

Is it too simple to call these regions East, West, Southeast, and Midwest? Apparently, although Washington, DC, Oakland, Atlanta, and Minneapolis fit into those categories very nicely, don't they.

Anyway, rather than write a tedious essay droning on about each first round game, I'm going to cut right to the chase--what lower seeds will win? Today, I'll give you my picks for the Atlanta and Oakland regions. On Wednesday, I'll give you my first round upsets in the DC and Minneapolis regions.

In Atlanta, I only have two upset picks, one a very mild one.

#9 UNC-Wilmington over #8 George Washington. I know GW got hosed being dropped to an eight seed, and I know their big man, Pops Mensah-Bonsu has been out with a knee injury. This is a good team, but one that seemed to lose their edge even before Pops was hurt. The Colonials rely on their athleticism to force tempo and get transition hoops off of turnovers. If you can get them in a grind-it-out halfcourt game, they will take bad shots and make mistakes trying to force the action. I think the Seahawks, with three seniors who were freshmen on the UNCW squad that nearly knocked defending champ Maryland out in the first round in 2003, is just the team to do that. They are sound defensively (only 38.9% field goal shooting allowed) and disciplined enough to control a slow game.

#13 Iona over #4 LSU It's probably going to come across that I don't like the SEC because I have a lot of their teams going out early. It's not that, I just don't think they either have good matchups or are ready to succeed in the post season. LSU falls into the latter category. While the Tigers' coach John Brady has obviously done an excellent job recruiting talented players, they usually seem to fall short of their potential. They are just the type of team, relying on their physical prowess, that is susceptable to a veteran, guard oriented team, and that's just what the Gaels are. Iona's star guard Steve Burtt is the sixth leading scorer in the nation (25.2 ppg). The Gaels also have the MAAC defensive player of the year, Rocky Soliver. This is a bad matchup for LSU. A cool note here--Burtt is the second leading scorer in school history, behind only his father Steve Sr., who playerd in the early 1980's

I've only got one upset in the Oakland region:

#11 San Diego State over #6 Indiana Part of this pick is no doubt motivated by my dislike and lack of respect for outgoing Hoosiers coach Mike Davis. As I have written before, I think he is a whiner who is reluctant to take nearly enough responsibility for the struggles the program has had the prior couple of seasons. Teams have a way of emulating their coach, and I think Indiana has not always played very tough or stepped up during crunch time. I like the Aztecs in this matchup in part because they have a couple of big bodies to throw at Indiana star Marco Killingsworth. I also think the Hoosiers will have trouble keeping up with the fast pace San Diego State plays at, a radical departure from the Big Ten.

I've got a bunch of upsets on the other side of the bracket. Check back tomorrow for those.


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