Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Once the 2005 NCAA tournament ended, I made a ridiculously early prediction of the 2006 Final Four: Duke, Texas, Villanova, and LSU. I further called Duke to win it all.

Despite subsequent events (Brandon Bass going pro, Curtis Sumpter injured), all four teams managed to get pretty good by the end of the regular season. But then the selection committee put Duke, Texas, and LSU in the tough Atlanta regional. Oh well.

It's a strange bracket; I've made my picks -- Duke, Connecticut, Ohio State, and Gonzaga are my Final Four -- but lack confidence in them. Every top seed has lost recently. Only Gonzaga (18 straight wins) and Nevada (14) can claim serious momentum. Of teams in the 6 major conferences, UCLA has the longest streak of 7 wins. Kansas has won 5 straight, and 15 of 16. This may be why UCLA, Gonzaga, and Kansas are the main challengers to Memphis in what appeared to be an easy Oakland regional.

Duke was proclaimed the overall #1 seed. Connecticut must be #2, because they got placed in the Washington Regional instead of Villanova. So here are the top 16 teams as of Selection Sunday:

Atlanta Regional
01. Duke
08. Texas
09. Iowa
16. LSU

Washington Regional
02. Connecticut
07. Tennessee
10. North Carolina
15. Illinois

Minneapolis Regional
03. Villanova
06. Ohio State
11. Florida
14. Boston College

Oakland Regional
04. Memphis
05. UCLA
12. Gonzaga
13. Kansas

All in all, not a bad job. The Oakland Regional shows geographical consideration. Iowa's rise to #9 and Ohio State's drop to #6 tells me that the committee waited until the Big Ten final was over. My Atlanta complaint may be a personal bias; I have been paying attention to Duke, Texas, and LSU all season. Tennessee should have been lowered to a 3 seed, but that's not a major quibble.

If you want a more legitimate bracket complaint, talk to the Lady Vols. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I agree with Pat Summitt: their placement was a slap in the face. I'm not saying Tennessee deserved a 1 seed, but they certainly didn't deserve the lowest 2 seed. This means they might have to play the best 3 seed (Rutgers) and the best 1 seed (North Carolina) to get to the Final Four. The women's top 16 teams:

Cleveland Regional
01. North Carolina
08. Tennessee
09. Rutgers
16. Purdue

San Antonio Regional
02. LSU
07. Oklahoma
10. Stanford
15. DePaul

Bridgeport Regional
03. Duke
06. Connecticut
11. Georgia
14. Michigan State

Albuquerque Regional
04. Ohio State
05. Maryland
12. Baylor
13. Arizona State

My women's Final Four are Rutgers, LSU, Duke, and Ohio State.


Quinn said...

I believe/fear that we have 3 of the same men's final four choices.

Neel Mehta said...

Well, that can't be good.