Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Lower Seeds I Like: DC and Minneapolis

Picking up where I left off yesterday, I'll share with you the first round upsets I've picked on my brackets in the Washington, DC and Minneapolis regions.

Washington, DC Region

#9 UAB over #8 Kentucky. Not much of a reach here. Despite UAB's ugly performance Saturday vs. Memphis in the Conference USA championship game, they did recently knock off the Tigers in Birmingham. Kentcky is not nearly as athletic as the Blazers, the Wildcats don't shoot well, and they don't have a player with a cool nickname like UAB point guard "Squeaky" Johnson. Kentucky needs to slow the game down and have center Randolph Morris work the Blazers over. I don't see it happening--UAB could run away with this one.

#10 Seton Hall over #7 Wichita State--This pick illustrates where I fall on the topic of where the Missouri Valley Conference rates. It was one of the highest in the RPI rankings, but I think those numbers were much less reflective of how good teams were this year than in recent seasons. The Shockers are a decent team, but they got whipped by Michigan State and lost to George Mason during the Bracket Buster event. Seton Hall came back from the dead after being humiliated by Duke early in the season. The Pirates play tough defense and have wins over NC State, Pitt, West Virginia, and Syracuse. The Hall wins a tight, low-scoring contest.

#15 Winthrop over #2 Tennessee. This seems to be one of the sexy upset pickets this season. Tennessee staggered down the stretch, and the Eagles are tournament tested. They won at Marquette early this season and hung tough with Alabama and Memphis. Winthrop defends the three very well (31.7%) which the Volunteers heavily rely on.

Minneapolis Region

#9 Wisconsin over #8 Arizona. Neither team is exactly rolling into the NCAA's with much momentum, but I think the Badgers are a lot tougher than the Wildcats this year. Arizona doesn't shoot the three-pointer very often, but they won't get cheap hoops because Wisconsin doesn't turn the ball over. If the Pac-10 wasn't down this year, I don't think Arizona would have even made the NCAA's.

#14 South Alabama over #3 Florida. This matchup looks a lot like the Winthrop-Tennessee game to me, except these two teams have very similar styles. That makes sense since South Alabama's coach John Pelphrey was an assistant on Gator coach Billy Donovan's staff. The Jaguars are the veteran team here with five seniors and a rotation that goes 11 players deep. This should be a fun game to watch unless you are a Florida fan.

#10 Northern Iowa over #7 Georgetown. The Panthers have lost five of their last seven, but they posted wins over Iowa and LSU (in Baton Rouge) earlier in the season. Norther Iowa also has an unheralded star in Ben Jacobson and a strong rebounding front line. Ironically given their history, the Hoyas are not particularly physical and don't have any tournament experience. Their Princeton offense will struggle to get good looks against the Panthers.

Of my upset picks yesterday and today, Seton Hall is the only team I pick to reach the Sweet 16. If my picks are right (there's a leap of faith or an exercise in delusion) they would play Winthrop in the second round, a game they should win.

The action tips off shortly after noon eastern time on Thursday. I can hardly wait.


At 2:05 AM, Blogger twins15 said...

Wichita St. really just dominated out there today. Great performance in a thrashing of Seton Hall, and I like them over the Vols as well. The MVC is alive and well!


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