So yesterday we posted Arturo’s take on the remaining NCAA squads. I don’t think I’ll go into the full detail that he did. Suffice it to say that I too thought that the opening week was, for the most part, amazing (if one can suffer some temporary amnesia where the refereeing is concerned, that is). We had upsets galore, close games, buzzer beaters and a few dominant teams asserting themselves (and I had one of those annoying American Sports in Europe situations rear up when we made our monthly trip to Upper Austria to visit relatives and my viewing options were wiped out completely for 36 hours. Torture!)
Now, though, is where it gets serious. The Sweet Sixteen – where Cinderella dreams go to die. It’s tough to carry over the momentum into the second week, and this is why I expect most, if not all, of the double-digit seeds to fall by the wayside sooner, rather than later. Which teams will get through, then? Will it all play out to form from here on in? Not quite…
East: Before the tourney started, everyone pointed this out as the “killer” region, and it doesn’t look much different today. Marquette winning through would be a surprise, but any of the other three could make it out alive and no one would blink. Being as I identified them before it got started, I’ll stick with UK in this one, pulling off the upset over a cruising Ohio St. that’s due for a tough game and a win over Roy Williams and UNC to reach Houston. Kentucky it is.
West: Hate to do it, but I’ve gotta go with the Blue Devils in this, the one region that went to form. I don’t see Arizona giving them much competition (unless their friendly Pac-10 ref is in charge of all of the clock management), SDSU just doesn’t strike me as a Final Four team and the Huskies are bound to cool off sometime, aren’t they? So, once again, we'll be stuck with Duke on the last weekend. Yipee!
Southwest: Yeah, this is all Jayhawks, baby. Sure, they could run into a cold spell, coupled with an opponent shooting lights-out from downtown and fall short of the Final Four. But they won’t. This team is too deep to drop one at this point, and none of the remaining teams in their region has the horsepower to stay with Kansas when they’re playing well.
Southeast: Eh, I still don’t like this region. I didn’t like anyone in it when the tournament started, and nothing has changed that opinion. Butler, maybe. Or the trendy pick of Wisconsin. BYU? Jimmer? Maybe without their ridiculous, self-defeating pre-marital sex clause they’d have pulled it out. Hmm… that leaves Florida. Oh, what the heck. I’d love to watch KU dismantle the Gators in the semi-finals. Let’s call this one for FU. Or is that UF? :)
That’s it for now. Tune in next week to see me either gloating or writing up a formal retraction of all my predictions…