Favorite: Duke. Coming into the Tournament, I pegged the Blue Devils as the favorite of the region. Nothing so far in the first weekend has made me change my mind. Duke is playing like they did before their season-ending slump, taking care of Southern in the first round and then comfortably handling George Washington in the second round. Shelden Williams has dominated the interior so far, while J.J. Redick seems to have his shot back. Moreover, Josh McRoberts is developing into a star. The regional semi-final game against LSU poses a problem, however. Glen Davis is a beast down low, while Tyrus Thomas and Tasmin Mitchell are athletic, versatile forwards. Darrell Mitchell is playing very well on the perimeter. If the Blue Devils get past that game, a rematch with Texas likely awaits. Even with all of that, Duke is still the favorite to win the region in my mind.
Cinderella: West Virginia. As a #6 seed, the Mountaineers aren't much of a Cinderella--they have a legit shot at winning the region. However, given the fact that they are the lowest seed remaining and are also the least talented of the group, they are the long shot of the region. With that said, West Virginia has been one of the dominant teams of the NCAA Tournament thus far. They ran Southern Illinois out of the gym in the first round, and took control early against Northwestern State and never looked back. WVU has been getting balanced contributions on the offensive end and have forced almost 20 turnovers per game in the first two. Against Texas, they obviously don't have the size to compete with the Longhorns on the inside, but they have the versatility to contend. If the Mountaineers are hitting their threes, they can beat anyone in the country.
Most intriguing personnel matchup: Duke's Shelden Williams vs. LSU's Glen Davis. The top three post players left in the Tournament all reside in this region. Two will go against each other in this game. Williams has been one of the best players in the country the past two games, dominating the paint in both contests. Granted, he was not going against the best low-post talent out there, but he nonetheless owned the block. On the other hand, Davis has been a constant star for LSU throughout the season and the NCAA Tournament. He is more athletic than he looks and can hit the mid-range jumper. Moreover, he is not bad at taking post players off the dribble--not something you see everyday from a 6-9, 310 lb. big man. Williams tends to dominate smaller centers, but Davis is not your ordinary big man. It will be interesting to see who wins this battle.
First-round knockout that will be here next year: Texas A&M. The Aggies finished the season on a hot streak, and were one last-second shot by Darrell Mitchell away from the Sweet Sixteen. Acie Law has developed into one of the best guards in the country, and could get some preseason accolades next season. Moreover, Joseph Jones will also return on the inside. If those two don't go pro, A&M could be one of the Big 12 favorites. They only lose Chris Walker from the rotation, but shooter Josh Carter performed better than him throughout the season anyway. Another key to this team will be coach Billy Gillespie. He is sure to get interest from other schools, but if he stays, A&M won't miss a beat. Their slow-down style and tough defense will continue to cause teams problems in 2006-2007.
All First-Weekend Team:
Guard- Acie Law, Texas A&M: 19 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 4 apg
Guard- J.J Redick, Duke: 24.5 ppg, 47% 3pt
Forward- P.J. Tucker, Texas: 17 ppg, 11.5 rpg
Center- Glen Davis, LSU: 21.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 3.0 bpg
Center- Shelden Williams, Duke: 23 ppg, 16 rpg, 5.5 bpg
Sixth Man- Omar Williams, George Washington: 15 ppg, 12 rpg
Thanks for pointing out the obvious. I had no idea the highest seeded team would be the favorite the lowest seeded team would be considered the Cinderalla. That's interesting, real interesting.ReplyDelete
I always try to go out a limb with these things.ReplyDelete
At least your consistent. I can't wait for the rest.ReplyDelete
The one that will be different is the Minneapolis region.ReplyDelete
K..well I am gonna go get some tacos and I expect them to be done by the time I get back.ReplyDelete