Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Chicago Region First-Round Previews

Illinois vs. Fairleigh Dickinson- The Illini get a nice warm-up game before the 32-team NCAA Tournament will start for them. This game might be close for a couple of minutes, but Illinois just has too much.

Texas vs. Nevada- One of the best match-ups of the bracket. Nevada has Nick Fazekas, a vastly underrated big man that can shoot. Kevinn Pinckney and Ramon Sessions are other options for the Wolfpack. Texas have Daniel Gibson, which gives them an advantage in the backcourt. Brad Buckman will have a tough time with Fazekas, though.

Alabama vs. UW-Milwaukee- A popular upset pick. Alabama lacks depth and turns it over too much, which plays into the Panthers' pressing style of defense that wears down its opponents. However, the Tide have a huge advantage in the paint and on offense. Kennedy Winston and Chuck Davis need a big game, while 'Bama also needs to decide to play defense.

Boston College vs. Penn- This might be the least enticing game to watch in the entire tournament, in my opinion. The Eagles have no guards but are stacked in the frontcourt, with Craig Smith and Jared Dudley. They lack shooting, however. Penn has Tim Begley, one of the best mid-major players.

LSU vs. UAB- UAB shouldn't be in the tournament, but while they are here, they can make some noise. They pulled off a couple of wins last season on their way to the Sweet 16. LSU has hit their stride lately, and are loaded down low with Brandon Bass and Glen Davis. The Tigers' inconsistent guards are going to have to handle the Blazers' press in order to win.

Arizona vs. Utah State- If you have Arizona in your bracket, this game should terrify you. Utah State keeps games in the 50s and 60s, while Arizona wants to run. Spencer Nelson is the leader for the Aggies. Salim Stoudamaire and Channing Frye could end up being too much for Utah State, but if this game is a low scoring event, watch out.

Southern Illinois vs. St. Mary's (CA.)- A match-up of two mid-major teams. Southern Illinois has been to the tournament four straight seasons and are experienced. Darren Brooks is a great all-around player. St. Mary's is balanced with Paul Marigney and Daniel Kickert. Both teams are very solid and are playing good basketball.

Oklahoma State vs. SE Louisiana- The Cowboys won't need that tournament experience in this game. John Lucas and Joey Graham are primed for another tourney run, while SE Louisiana is just happy to be here. They could keep it close for about a half, though.

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