Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Washington, D.C. Region First-Round Previews


Connecticut vs. Albany- Two dogs match up in the first round. It is going to be a blowout, like most 1-16 games. However, Jamar Wilson of the Great Danes is a joy to watch on the offensive end. He is very tough to stop one-on-one, and it will be interesting to watch how he does against the bigger, strong Huskies. Other than that, there isn't much to see here.

Kentucky vs. UAB- Might be the best game of the first round. It is a rematch of a second-round game two years ago when UAB knocked off the top-seeded Wildcats. Normally, the Selection Committee does not like to schedule Tournament rematches so soon after they played, but I have no problem with it. It should be an up and down game filled with athletic guards and wings that like to run and score. However, only one team's style fits their personnel. Kentucky plays a halfcourt game not conducive to their wing-oriented team, while UAB will pressure from the opening tip. Watch the contrast of styles.

Washington vs. Utah State- A popular upset pick. Washington likes to play transition basketball and get points in their fast break. However, Utah State plays great defense and will likely not allow the Huskies to get their run and gun going. The Aggies are also very efficient from the floor. Meanwhile, Washington struggles on the defensive end at times. Seems like an obvious upset, right? Can Utah State stop Brandon Roy? If they can, look out. If they can't, no upset.

Illinois vs. Air Force- First of all, Air Force doesn't even belong in the bracket. However, while they are here, they might just give the defending national runner-up a game. AFA plays a slow-down game predicated on passing and movement. They get a decent shot on nearly every possession. Illinois also likes low-scoring games played in the half-court. In other words, this game will be in the 40s or 50s.

Michigan State vs. George Mason- This game would be much better had the Patriots' Tony Skinn not been suspended for a game. Without him, they don't have the perimeter firepower to match Michigan State on the wings. On the other hand, the Spartans are one of the most inconsistent teams in the country and play down to inferior talent at times. Jai Lewis and Paul Davis battling down low will be an interesting matchup to see.

North Carolina vs. Murray State- A contrast of personnel. Murray State is experienced, with four seniors and two juniors in their top eight. On the other hand, North Carolina is very young, starting two freshmen and bringing another two coming off the bench. However, that experience won't play a major role in this game. Tyler Hansbrough is going to dominate the undersized Racers, who only have one player in their rotation above 6-6.

Wichita State vs. Seton Hall- Considering no one has any idea what Seton Hall team is going to show up, it is tough to predict. I'm going to guess that the team that beat Pitt on the road is going to stay home, and Seton Hall is going to be another run of the mill major conference team that falters early. Wichita State has an excellent frontcourt, while Seton Hall is more of a two-trick pony in Donald Copeland and Kelly Whitney. A team that shows up every night beats inconsistency any day of the week.

Tennessee vs. Winthrop- Could be the biggest upset of the Tournament. Tennessee is struggling lately and might be wearing down. Moreover, Winthrop is going to be playing close to home in Greensboro, which is an interesting advantage for them considering they are the #15 seed. Another intriguing tidbit is that the Eagles are actually taller than the SEC East champion Volunteers. If the Vols don't break out of their slump, we could be talking about the biggest first-round upset in years next week.

1 comment:

  1. just how big of an upset would this be? An unbelievable 8.5% of people on espn have winthrop (surely the highest of all-time for a 15 seed, and higher than ANY of the 14´s!) Lunardi and lots of "experts" have picked it. Everyone is complaining that Tenn is too high and Winthrop too low. In my opinion, a Winthrop win would be very unlikely to be the biggest upset of the tournament, much less of all-time.