Our NCAA Tournament Preview begins with the region that should unofficially be known as "The NCAA Committee's Gift to a Defending National Champion
." The Florida Gators find themselves in the easiest bracket, with no team that can conceivably find a way to defeat it. Thus we will be treated to three weeks of Joakim Noah and more Corey Brewer than you can shake a stick at.....oh well.
Florida vs Jackson State
The tournament begins (for me) with the continuation of a practice that I do not understand. If Florida is the #1 overall seed, why dont they play the winner of the play-in game? It makes no sense. But we all know everything we need to know about Florida.....they have five great starters, Joakim Noah is a freak show and Billy Donovan uses hair gel
. All the rest is just fluff. The Gators play Jackson State, a school that is best known as being the site of the 1970 Jackson killings when students were shot down in a confrontation with police. The Jackson State basketball team plays in the SWAC conference (aka the conference that every other year alternates with the MEAC in the play-in game) and has alumni such as Walter Payton and "Oil Can" Boyd. What does this mean? They lose by 38.
Arizona vs Purdue
There are exactly three people in America that have watched an Arizona game all the way through, but those people know that Chase Budinger is the best Flyin Caucasian since Tommy boy Chambers. Chase can leap through the air like Mike Powell in Mexico City
and has skills that people thought Mike Dunleavy had. Purdue on the other hand may be the most boring team year in and year out in all of sports. I challenge you to name their coach....and no it isnt Gene Keady anymore. Watching Purdue play, even when they are good, is like listening to Dick Gabriel talk. On a bad day, think Rob Bromley on American Idol. Arizona by 5.
Butler vs Old Dominion
I have seen Butler play live....and they play like they are right off the set of Hoosiers. AJ Graves is the player that everyone over 60 says "I like the way that kid plays." He makes his free throws, loves the two handed chest pass and has a buzz cut. But his team isnt bad either, although most of their true glory came at the beginning of the season. Old Dominion is everyone's new George Mason
, mainly because it is now declared by law that someone must be someone's George Mason. They shoot well, defend and are a 12 seed, which means upset potential. I am going with Old Dominion, but I think the committee should be taken to task for putting two mid-majors against each other in this game. I would have much preferred to see ODU make Tim Floyd start drinking again.
Maryland vs Davidson
Did I live under a rock when Maryland became a team good enough for a #4 seed? When you combine the Terps, UVA and Duke, Billy Packer must have been on the selection committee
. Maryland has a team full of guys that really should be better than they are and a coach in Gary Williams who seems like he might smell bad. Davidson on the other hand has Dell Curry's son, which means that lazy announcers and bloggers have something to say about them. I really want to pick Davidson here.....but Maryland can only lose to teams that they are better than so often.....plus they have to wait and lose to ODU next round.
Notre Dame vs Winthrop
When I read and hear rumors about the possibility of Mike Brey being hired as a replacement for Tubby I want to cry.....I mean really cry. Notre Dame plays basketball like Sanjaya on American Idol sings
.....in a cringe-inducing manner. His style is to bring it down, pass for 25 seconds and then shoot a prayer for a three.....did he really need to go to Duke to learn that? Winthrop is everyone's magical team and their game with VMI in the Big South Championship was one of the most entertaining of the year. They are set up for an upset here and they have three seniors who have been waiting four years for this moment. But life aint fair.....and thus Notre Dame wins.
Oregon vs Miami (Oh)
They seriously must play the Pac 10 games on the moon. Forget Arizona....when was the last time you saw Oregon play? Well the answer is never, which means you have missed Aaron Brooks, Malik Hairston and eye-piercing yellow and green
. Coach Ernie Kent was on the hot seat early in the year and now this team is a three seed....thus making all the Oregon citizens take a break from their drugs and cheer in celebration. Miami (OH) won on a bank shot three at the buzzer to take the MAC......which considering how pitiful they looked in Rupp earlier this year says the MAC aint the MAC of old. And the Redhawks are the Wally Sczerbiaks of old either, as they score little and play a style that would make Tubby Smith call for a fast break. The amount of people that will watch this game are equivalent to the amount of LSU players the women's coach didnt date.....and they will see Oregon by 13
UNLV vs Georgia Tech
Make it a point to watch this game folks. Two teams that can put some points up and have exciting young players that are strong athletes. Has any program fallen more off the radar in recent years than UNLV? There was a time when Tark the Shark was winnin and cheatin and runnin and cheatin and chewin and cheatin and American loved UNLV games. Now they are a 7 seed, few realize that a Final 4 coach mans the sidelines (Lon Kruger) and everyone just assumes they are bad. I watched UNLV stop the Bob Knight win record in Lubbock and I think the Rebels are for real my friend. Georgia Tech on the other hand is like a beautiful girl who says her favorite show is Jay Leno
....she is bound to disappoint. Two elite talents in Javaris Crittendon and Thaddeus Young (remember him?), yet the team always looks two steps behind and consistently out of sorts. Paul Hewitt is an enigma to me and I sometimes wonder if his lucky run with the big center (the name escapes me) makes people overlook his constant underachieving. Rebels by 7
Wisconsin v Texas A&M CC
Watch this one folks. This game has the best potential to be the biggest upset of the first round. Bo Ryan makes Wisconsin basketball unwatchable, but also very successful by putting motor oil and sludge on the court, until there is no possible way that any team can actually get up the energy to beat the Badgers. They have Alando Tucker who is good, but also uninspiring....sort of like a William H Macy solo project
. Corpus Christi on the other hand puts points on the board and is the kind of team you pull for....only nine years in Division I, now in the big dance and ready to make a splash. I like how CC plays, in part because they show no fear and will put the ball in the basket. IF they can get some points early, are able to not be completely drowned by Ryan-ball and show some mental fortitude in the end, they could pull out a shocker....not saying it will happen, but it could.
MY Sweet 16 is Florida, ODU, Oregon and UNLV
in what will be the easiest road to the Final Four imaginable for the Gators. The Midwest is a bad bracket, which means if you are going to watch the games, get ready for two words.....Jim Spenarkel.