Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Predictions--Austin Region


It would behoove CBS to have the tournament records for both three-pointers made and highest three-point percentage in a game handy before Duke takes the floor against Delaware State. OVER 131.

Dan Grunfeld's out, but Mississippi State still hasn't replaced Tim Bowers. Stanford will only need to score about 65 points to advance.

Old Dominion could give Michigan State fits. Bear in mind that had the Spartans converted a handful of their fifteen missed free throws against Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament, they'd be a super-trendy final four pick.

Taylor Coppenrath should get his, but TJ Sorrentine's shooting will determine how much Vermont troubles Syracuse. Against Kansas and North Carolina he shot 32% from the floor. UNDER 138.5.

The most troubling evenly matched first round game pits UTEP against Utah. In a slow, low-scoring tilt, UTEP should take advantage of Utah's propensity to turn the ball over while the Utes dominate the glass. It'll come down to a couple of shots either way or how well Andrew Bogut shoots free throws.

Niagara has the best chance to pull a major upset in the first round. If they can dictate an up-tempo game, that will minimize Oklahoma's frontcourt advantage. If Kelvin Sampson gets the game he wants (wherein the officials wilt at his implicit dare to call as many fouls as the Sooners commit), Kevin Bookout and Taj Gray will carry the day. NIAGARA +12.5.

You couldn't pay me to watch to Cincinnati and Iowa play. Okay, you could, but you'd have to let me on air to make constant fun of Steve Alford (hair, suit, coaching) and Bob Huggins (hair, windshirt, coaching, graduation rate), criticize both the quality and style of play and point out that not just the basketball is ugly. These programs attract some unattractive young men. The number of players who foul out will be greater than the margin of victory.

Regular Kentucky will dispatch Eastern Kentucky with ease. Tubby Smith's team has real weaknesses: scoring and rebounding, but the unlikelihood of them winning the tournament seems to have altered the line on this game. REGULAR KENTUCKY -16.5.


Duke might not have to break much of a sweat in their second round game either. I guess Stanford might hang around in this likely half-court game.

I think Michigan State and Syracuse are the two best teams in this region. Rebounding will prove decisive as Michigan State's offensive advantage neutralizes Syracuse's defensive advantage.

The added chance of Oklahoma losing in the first round has me (grudgingly) placing Utah in the sweet sixteen. Utah could conceivably make it to the regional final without scoring more than 60 points in any game.

I wouldn't be shocked if Cincinnati snuck past Kentucky. It will likely be a low-scoring game, but I'll go with Tubby Smith and Patrick Sparks over Bob Huggins and Jihad Muhammad on critical possessions.


There's a decent chance that Shelden Williams will reduce Paul Davis to tears at some point during the game, but Michigan State's guards are better than Duke's. JJ Redick can make all the free throws pretty as he pleases, but Anderson, Ager, Brown, and Torbert will physically dominate Redick, Ewing, Nelson, and Melchionni.

Kentucky's the most likely to advance from the ugly half of the region, but Bogut could put Utah on his back. Honestly, would it have killed the committee to put Gonzaga, Creighton, or West Virginia in the bottom half of this bracket to liven things up?


Michigan State is better than any team in the bottom half of the region. Duke and Syracuse are too. Kentucky or whoever comes out of the bottom half will have to deal with the shocking fact basketball teams can score 70 (or even more) points in a single game.

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