Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Midwest Region Preview


The St. Louis region might be the least exciting region in the Tournament in terms of the favorite, but don’t overlook this region. There simply just won’t be much variety in terms of teams with Final Four potential. Florida is the tourney’s overall #1 seed, although I’m not sure the Gators had the nation’s best resume. However, the Gators are the defending champions and have tons of talent. The Midwest also has several capable mid-major teams, and several athletic teams that like to get out and score. It will be a fun region.

Favorite: Florida. The committee clearly rewarded the Gators for having the top overall seed. This team has an easy road to Atlanta, and might be the favorite to repeat. They have a terrific inside duo in Al Horford and Joakim Noah, as well as a very good backcourt in Taurean Green and Lee Humphrey. Corey Brewer is a great two-way player.

Other Contenders: Wisconsin, Oregon, Maryland. The Badgers aren’t as imposing as they were a few weeks ago. Since then, starting center Brian Butch went down with an injury, and their offense has lacked consistency. However, Alando Tucker might be the best scorer in nation not named Durant, and Kammron Taylor is very solid at the point. Oregon could be this year’s Florida. They started out very hot, struggled late in the year, then ran through the Pac-10 Tournament with ease. Oregon has plenty of perimeter shooters, led by Aaron Brooks. Maarty Leunen is a versatile big man. Will the Ducks lack of size hurt them? Maryland came into the Tournament as one of the hottest teams in the country—not including their ACC Tourney loss to Miami (Fl.). They are experienced and have plenty of athletes to throw at opponents. D.J. Strawberry has developed into the team’s leader, and Gary Williams know how to win.

Sleepers: Notre Dame, Georgia Tech. I think the Irish are getting overlooked as a sleeper in this region, mainly because of their first-round game against Winthrop. They have big-time scorers on the wings in Colin Falls and Russell Carter, and a developing guard in Tory Jackson. They also have solid big guys. Georgia Tech could be this year’s double-digit seed to make a run. They have tons of talent, including a great freshmen duo in guard Javaris Crittenton and forward Thaddeus Young. If Georgia Tech focuses on the defensive end, this is not a team I’d want to play this week.

Non-BCS Teams to Watch: Winthrop, UNLV. Here’s the “sexy” pick of the Tournament. However, I think the Eagles have a tough match-up in Notre Dame, who loves to push the ball and score. Despite that, though, Winthrop has the guns to pull it off. Torrell Martin and Mike Jenkins can really shoot the ball, and Craig Bradshaw is solid. UNLV should have been a 4 of a 5, but they can be a real sleeper. They are quick defensively, and have a trio of very good scorers. Kevin Kruger and Wink Adams shoot the ball well, and Wendell White is a tough match-up because of his inside-outside ability. Joel Anthony is a very good shot-blocker down low.

Upset Pick: Old Dominion over Butler. Butler is going the wrong way heading into the Tournament, and ODU has the experience and inside-outside balance to pull off the classic 12-5 upset win. If A.J. Graves is not hitting his shots from the outside, the Bulldogs will struggle offensively. ODU’s Valdas Vasylius is a tough match-up for most players. Also keep an eye on the Davidson-Maryland match-up.

Top Five Players (only one per team):
1. Alando Tucker, Wisconsin
2. Aaron Brooks, Oregon
3. Carl Landry, Purdue
4. Corey Brewer, Florida
5. Marcus Williams, Arizona

No comments:

Post a Comment