Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Albuquerque Region Preview

Going into Championship Week, Washington was not thought of to be a contender for a #1 seed and Wake Forest was basically a lock for a top spot. However, the Huskies got a 1 and the Deacons ended up with a 2. Don't take those seeds as gospel, though. There are about five teams capable of taking this region. Washington may be the least likely of those five.

Favorite: Wake Forest. Even with a #2 seed, the Demon Deacons have Chris Paul back and may be the most talented offensive team in the country. If they can play any defense, Wake could make a run at the title. Justin Gray, Taron Downey are solid sidekicks to Paul, and Eric Williams is dominant in the post.

Other Contenders: Gonzaga, Louisville. Yes, Washington is still not one of the top three favorites to win the region. Gonzaga has a great starting five and Adam Morrison is one of the best all-around players in the country. Ronny Turiaf can control the paint, and Derek Raivio is an underrated point guard. Louisville got shafted with a 4 seed, but could prove that with a Final Four run. Francisco Garcia, Taquan Dean, and Larry O'Bannon are a great perimeter trio, and the Cardinals can shoot anyone out of a building if their shooters are hot.

Sleepers: Georgia Tech, Texas Tech, West Virginia, Pitt. This region is chalk full of sleeper teams. Tech is hot and confident right now, and might be fully healthy for the tournament. Texas Tech has one of the top guard trios in the country, but have no frontcourt go-to-guys. West Virginia can beat anyone if their shooters are on that night. Pitt has a decent draw, and played in the toughest league in the country.

Mid-Major Teams to Watch: George Washington, Pacific. Alright, maybe George Washington is not a mid-major, but they are not one of the major conference teams. The Colonials are extremely athletic and have the scorers to stay in the game with anyone. Pacific dropped a few seed lines with a loss to Utah State. Guillaume Yango and the rest of the Tigers got a tough draw, but can still win a game or two.

Top Five Players:
1. Chris Paul, Wake Forest
2. Francisco Garcia, Louisville
3. Nate Robinson, Washington
4. Adam Morrison, Gonzaga
5. Ronald Ross, Texas Tech

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