Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The NCAA double dip

It used to not happen very often. Georgia did it first in 1983. Then Duke did it in 1999.

But recently it's gone from novelty to annual occurrence: Oklahoma in 2002, Texas in 2003, Connecticut in 2004, and Michigan State in 2005.

What am I talking about? The NCAA double dip. It's when a school puts both its men's and women's basketball teams in the Final Four. It makes for double delirium in the wackiest postseason in sports. And this year there are so many likely candidates that I'd be surprised if it didn't happen.

With the brackets for both tournaments now available, we get a better idea of what schools can pull off the feat this year. There are 20 schools that have both teams in the tournaments. Here are 6 that stand out, in order of likelihood:

1. Ohio State. Men are a 2 seed; women a 1 seed. Both teams have a path to the Final Four that's challenging but doable. If it doesn't happen, there's always next year, when Jessica Davenport is a senior and Greg Oden is a freshman.

2. LSU. Men #4; women #1. The women have a comparatively easy time navigating the San Antonio Regional, with only teams like DePaul and Oklahoma in their way. The men have the task of beating Syracuse, Duke, and Texas.

3. Connecticut. Men #1; women #2. Mark my words: if any team in the Washington Regional beats the men, it will be this year's biggest upset. I don't think you can keep them out of the Final Four. The women Huskies aren't as strong as past squads, but get to play close to home in the 3rd and 4th round.

4. Duke. Men #1; women #1. The women did not deserve a 1 seed, but they'll take it. They should make their way to the regional final, which is basically a road game against Connecticut. As for the men, that potential LSU game scares the crap out of me.

5. Tennessee. Men #2; women #2. "Tennessee is a 2 seed?" The same question was asked with delighted incredulity by Bruce Pearl and angry shock by Pat Summitt. The women would have to face Rutgers and North Carolina. The men would have to beat Michigan State or North Carolina before getting Connecticut.

6. North Carolina. Men #3; women #1. The main challenge facing the women is that regional final against Rutgers or Tennessee. The men can get past Michigan State and Tennessee, but will really have to put on a show against Connecticut.

The other 14 are Oklahoma, Michigan State, Florida, Washington, Iowa, UCLA, Boston College, George Washington, N.C. State, California, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and poor Southern, whose 16 seeds face Duke's 1 seeds.

Finally, I should point out that the double dip is usually a mixed blessing. Aside from Connecticut in 2004, who won both titles, each school has left the experience empty-handed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate your basketball coverage...since I can barely make it through an hour of ESPN these days (commercials are hideous...except for those promoting the women's tourney--LOVE THOSE!). Just "B"