Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Atlanta Region Preview


The Atlanta Region is the home to the #1 overall seed, Duke. However, the Blue Devils have a very difficult road to the Final Four. George Washington is much better than a #8 seed, while LSU is loaded with talent at the #4 spot. Texas is a legit national title contenders, and West Virginia made the Elite Eight last season. Moreover, Syracuse is the Big East Tournament Champion. Whoever comes out of this region will be battle-tested.

Favorite: Duke. The top team in the country according to the Selection Committee has a good chance to reach yet another Final Four. J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams form the nation's best inside-outside combo, and Josh McRoberts is developing into a star. Several role players also contribute. However, the Blue Devils lack post depth and a consistent third scorer. Athletic teams could give them problems.

Other Contenders: Texas, LSU. The Longhorns might be the most complete team in the country outside of Connecticut. However, they have been inconsistent at times this season. P.J. Tucker and LaMarcus Aldridge were the two best players in the Big 12 this season, while Daniel Gibson is a solid all-around perimeter player. LSU is one of the most athletic and talented teams in the nation, and have an excellent frontcourt. Glen Davis is a load on the interior, while Tyrus Thomas can block shots and rebound with anyone. Tasmin Mitchell is a match-up problem. Darrell Mitchell can do a variety of things from the perimeter. Their lack of experience could hinder them, though.

Sleepers: West Virginia, George Washington. West Virginia made a run to the Elite Eight last season, and return nearly the entire team. Kevin Pittsnogle and Mike Gansey form a great inside-outside duo, while the Mountaineers have a host of shooters that can hit from anywhere on the floor. They don't have a true post player, though, and they have been cold from three lately. George Washington got underseeded at #8 and could make the committee look bad. They are ridiculously athletic and love to get out and run at every opportunity. If Pops Mensah-Bonsu is healthy, he gives them the post presence necessary to balance out the production that Danilo "J.R." Pinnock and Maureece Rice provide on the perimeter.

Mid-Major Team to Watch: Southern Illinois. The Salukis are coming off of a MVC Tournament Championship, and could pull off an upset or two. They play some of the best defense in the country, and get teams out of their normal offensive game. The backcourt of Jamaal Tatum and Tony Young is very good. If SIU can score, look for them to get a win or two.

Top Five Players (only one per team):
1. J.J. Redick, G, Duke
2. P.J. Tucker, F, Texas
3. Glen Davis, C, LSU
4. Leon Powe, F, California
5. Mike Gansey, G, West Virginia

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