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Bracketology 101

By Jonathan Goodman
Published: March 2009

After an exciting week of conference tournaments, the “Big Dance is finally here. Basketball is always on, everyone has a different opinion, and it is a great time to win money. The fun of creating a bracket is something that goes on all around the country, and most of the time no two brackets are alike.

When you pick your bracket, you need to make sure that your picks are not all number one seeds in the Final Four, because in reality all the top seeds making it has only happened once.
We saw almost everything in the conference tournaments: upsets of the number one, two, and four teams in the nation, and even a thrilling six overtime game.

In the bracket this year there, are seven teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and seven teams from the Big East.

Three of the teams from the Big East are number one seeds, which is absurd.

Last year, the Cinderella story was the Davidson Wildcats led by sophomore Stephen Curry. The Wildcats’ performance in last year’s tournament put them on the map at the beginning of this year and made Stephen Curry one of the most recognized players in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association). Now, it seems likely he will be a lottery pick in the NBA (National Basketball Association) draft this coming June.

Unfortunately, this year Davidson will not have a chance to capture the title, losing the conference tournament and failing to receive an “at large bid. So now we wonder who this year’s Cinderella team will be. Could it be a team who barely snuck into the tournament, or possibly an experienced Mid-Major?

Will Kansas repeat again?

Will four number one teams make it in the Final Four? All these questions will be answered at the end of March Madness.

MIDWEST: A very exciting section, including the number one seed in the tournament and promising good two and three seeds.

If Alabama State can win the play-in game, Grlenntys Chief Kickingstallionsims Jr. will have a tough time against the number one seed Louisville. Usually, I would not mention a 16th seed, but Kickingstallionsim’s name is so great that it needed to be mentioned.

Along with Alabama St., teams like Arizona, Cleveland St., North Dakota St. and Robert Morris University will probably not make it out of the first round.

Of course, as in every bracket, there may be upsets. There are always the small upsets like the nine over eight in the Siena versus Ohio State match-up. If Siena had not played Louisville in the next round, they could have made a run for the title.

Many experts believe Wake Forest has a chance to make a Final Four run, even though the whole team is based around Jeff Teague. They have decent players like James Johnson, Al-Farouq Aminu and Chas McFarland, but when Jeff Teague has a bad game, the team falls apart.
It has happened too many times throughout the season and Wake Forest will not be able to beat the Utes of Utah.

For me, the team to watch for is the West Virginia Mountaineers, led by senior captains Alex Ruoff and Da’Sean Butler. Averaging 15.9 points per game, Ruoff is a 37% 3-point shooter and just recently passed West Virginia great Kevin Pittsnogle for the most three pointers in West Virginia history during the Big East tournament.

West Virginia, a sixth seed, will make it to the Elite Eight, and will beat three-seeded Kansas and two-seeded Michigan St. before bowing out to the Louisville Cardinals. Louisville is the first team I have to make the Final Four.

WEST: The west bracket has arguably two number one teams, the University of Connecticut and the Memphis Tigers.

The Memphis Tigers get praised for their great record, but they play in a lower performing conference (Conference USA), which is filled with mediocre teams like University of Alabama-Birmingham and Tulsa.

Memphis, led by Antonio Anderson, Shawn Taggart, and freshman sensation Tyreke Evans, is an excellent team. Only a few upsets will happen in the West region.

Ten-seeded Maryland will beat the seven-seeded California. Maryland will win this game for one reason, Greivis Vasquez. After single handedly beating the University Of North Carolina, Vasquez will continue his great form and lead the team to one more big win this season.

The six-seeded Marquette University will beat the three seeded Missouri Tigers, but it will be UConn and Memphis squaring off in the Elite Eight.

The size of Hasheem Thabeet and Brookline’s own Jeff Adrien will make it tough for the Tigers to play in the paint. Both these teams are great, but I feel A.J. Price, Thabeet, Adrien and Kemba Walker will make up for the loss of starting point guard Jerome Dyson, and lead UConn into the Final Four.

EAST: Hosting the Sweet Sixteen and the Elite Eight in Boston has not happened for many years. It is sort of like Pittsburgh making it into the final four. Even though the number one-seeded Panthers beat UConn twice this season, they received a tough draw.

The east is the strongest section, so look for many upsets to take place. One big upset is that the 11-seeded Virginia Commonwealth will beat the six-seeded UCLA. Also, the five- seeded Florida St. will beat the four-seeded Xavier and the three-seeded Villanova will beat the second seeded ACC champions Duke Blue Devils.

Duke has had an up and down ride this season. Its success depends on play from its three veterans Kyle Singler, Jon Scheyer and Gerald Henderson. The team can be quite streaky, and this will not be the year to bring the title back to the Cameron Crazies.

Finally, the biggest upset; Florida St. will beat the one-seeded Pitt. The great defense from Florida St. and their size will cause problems for Pitt. Pitt’s big playmaker, guard Levance Fields, will have his hands full both offensively and defensively against ACC player of the year candidate Toney Douglas, who averaged 21.1 points per game during the regular season.

Another great player for the Panthers is their beastly forward DeJuan Blair. His lack of height, 6′ 7, will be troublesome when he has to go against the very physical Florida St. who has three players at 6′ 9 and one at 7′ 1. Solomon Alabi, Uche Echefu, Ryan Reid, and Chris Singleton will be too much for Pitt and Blair to handle.

Sam Young is another solid player for the Pitt Panthers. He is a 6′ 6 and possesses a great shot, which is the difference between him and the Seminoles shooting guard Derwin Kitchen.
In the long run, the five- seeded Florida St. will upset the one-seeded Pitt and make there way on to the Final Four in Detroit.

SOUTH: The best team in the tournament is the one-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels.
They have everything: the ACC player of the year Ty Lawson, an explosive shooting guard in Wayne Ellington, Big man Deon Thompson and reigning National player of the year Tyler
Hansbrough.

Hansbrough is a sensational college basketball player and is about to pass J.J. Redick as the all time leading scorer in ACC history. Also, the loss of Lawson for the ACC tournament hurt them, but if Lawson is healthy for the “big dance, like he is expected to be, the Heels will be tough to beat.

In the South bracket, the 12-seeded Western Kentucky Hilltoppers will beat the five-seeded Illinois Illini (Western Kentucky had a huge upset over Louisville earlier this season and with Illinois the point guard hurt, the Hilltoppers will advance). The other upset will be in the Sweet Sixteen.

The Orangemen of Syracuse will beat the Griffin brothers and Oklahoma. With the experience Syracuse gained from the six-overtime victory over UConn, they will overcome the 26 double doubles this year from the sophomore Blake Griffin of Oklahoma.

Syracuse will upset Oklahoma and then go on and lose to UNC in the Elite Eight.

In the Final Four, taking place in the Motor City, Louisville from the Midwest bracket will meet UConn from the West bracket, and Florida St. from the East will meet UNC from the South.

These teams all have high caliber players. Louisville, led by Terrence Williams and Earl Clark, will beat the UConn Huskies.

Hansbrough and Lawson aid the Tar Heels in beating Florida St. The University of North Carolina and the Louisville Cardinals will duke it out, but in the end, North Carolina will bring the championship home to Chapel Hill.

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