Yes, I'm in the business of providing you year-round Steelers coverage, but let's take a moment to talk about one of my favorite sporting events out there: the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. I know a number of us are scattered across the country (and world) so I'm guessing there are a broad range of allegiances and varying levels of interest in college hoops. I'll spew a few of my thoughts then open it to the floor. We'll throw up a thread during the action on Thursday and Friday for us to gather and comment on the day session action.
- Does anyone think that UCLA doesn't have the easiest path to San Antonio in the West region? A vulnerable Xavier team on the 3-line, plus an undersized Duke team on the 2-line makes me think they're a shoe-in from the Phoenix regional. West Virginia is getting lots of hype, but I guess people forgot they were on the bubble just a short time ago. UCONN went on an impressive mid-season run, and could give the Bruins a run for their money, but they seem inconsistent and not disciplined enough to hang with a super-experienced, physical and methodical UCLA team that punishes team's for taking possessions off.
- Sheesh, talk about cake-walk. North Carolina doesn't have to even leave the Tar Heel State in the first two rounds of the East Region. However, a potential Elite 8 matchup with Tennessee could be tricky. If nothing else, fans would be treated to a great game if the two were to advance to that point. I'm not sure the Vols play good enough defense though to survive three games in the tournament though and even make it to the Elite 8. Louisville could provide a tough test in the Sweet 16, for example. The Heel's primary test I suppose could come from Notre Dame, a team that's capable of beating anybody when their guards are on. Them escaping George Mason in Round 1 is no guarantee though.
- I personally think the Midwest Region is the toughest. Kansas, Georgetown, Wisconsin, and Clemson are all well-rounded and tough in their own right. Kansas of course has the recent notoriety of bowing out early. Real early. The 8-9 matchup between Kent State and UNLV is also pretty good, as UNLV was close to being in the Final Four last year, and Kent State has stood up to every challenge thrown its way all year. Georgetown has got to scare most teams as well. Inside, outside, on defense, their bench..they do everything fairly well and could finally break through and win it all if they can get on any sort of streak shooting the ball from deep. Should be a fun regional.
- Finally, in the South. Texas most almost be thankful they lost their epic Big 12 tourney showdown with Kansas. The reward for the defeat was a berth in the Houston regional, where they're likely to be supported by gobs of Longhorn fans. Memphis, who lost only once this year, can't be too pleased with this development. Teams to watch? Michigan State, who always seems to have one more run in them come tournament time under Tom Izzo. Pittsburgh, who's playing as well as anybody right now. Can they win outside of NYC though? I don't see Stanford doing much from the 3-line. Too slow and unathletic, regardless of how well they rebound and dominate inside with the Lopez twins.
Let's hand it off to Gus Johnson for some memories of last year's great moments.
Share your thoughts. I'm sure we're all still deciding on who to pencil in on our respective brackets. Sleeper teams? Round 1 upsets? #1 seed likely to fall first? Discuss.