Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Atlanta Region First-Round Previews


Duke vs. Southern- The Blue Devils get a nice, easy warmup before the real NCAA Tournament starts for them. Southern is just happy they didn't have to participate in the play-in game as the SWAC Champion.

George Washington vs. UNC-Wilmington- One of the best match-ups of the first-round. If Pops Mensah-Bonsu is healthy for the Colonials, they should get the win. However, if he is not at full strength, UNCW has the backcourt talent to match GW's perimeter. The difference could be the athleticism of the Colonials. Watch T.J. Carter and Danilo "J.R." Pinnock go at it on the wing.

Syracuse vs. Texas A&M- A potential 12-5 upset pick. The Orange are coming off of a Big East Tournament Championship, while the Aggies have won eight of their last nine. Will Syracuse be worn out or will their momentum continue? If Texas A&M can hit their perimeter shots, they will be able to neutralize the 2-3 zone of Syracuse. Look for Gerry McNamara and Acie Law, two clutch guards, to go at it.

LSU vs. Iona- A battle of contrasting teams. LSU is loaded in the frontcourt with size and athletes. On the other hand, Iona revolves around their high-scoring backcourt of Steve Burtt and Ricky Soliver. Those two may keep them in the game, but the Gaels don't have an answer for Glen Davis or Tyrus Thomas in the frontcourt.

West Virginia vs. Southern Illinois- Another popular upset pick. It will be a battle between an explosive offense with a host of capable shooters (West Virginia) and a ball-hawking defense that disrupts the normal offense of most teams (Southern Illinois). The Salukis don't score much but have playmakers, while the Mountaineers play a trapping, 1-3-1 defense that causes problems for opponents. First to 60 wins.

Iowa vs. Northwestern State- A contrast of styles. Iowa won the Big Ten Tournament with wins over Michigan State and Ohio State. They like to play a slow-down game without much scoring. Northwestern State, on the other hand, would rather get out and run and score in transition. The Demons are experienced and deep, but don't have the personnel to match up with the Hawkeyes in a half-court setting. If they speed up the tempo, though, who knows?

California vs. North Carolina State- Who matched these two teams up? If it wasn't going to be a close game, it would be one of the least appealing games of the Tournament. Both teams are slumping, but one team has to win. Leon Powe has the ability to carry California, while NC State needs to start hitting their shots again. They have a balanced offense, while the Golden Bears revolved primarily around Powe and guard Ayinde Ubaka. Watching the Wolfpack defend Powe should be worth watching.

Texas vs. Pennsylvania- Ivy League teams usually pose some sort of a problem to major conference teams, but it won't happen this season. Pen doesn't have nearly the same degree of athleticism and talent that Texas has, and the Longhorns are too good to have a close game.

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