Monday, March 06, 2006

Seeds of doubt

This will be my last prediction of the top 16 teams; there's no real point to making one next Sunday in those hours between the last conference championships and the announcement of the actual bracket. But honestly, if the conference favorites win out, then not much would change.

Despite Duke's two losses last week, they're #1 in the RPI and shouldn't be ranked lower than #4 in the polls. The consensus is that Duke and Connecticut are the nation's two strongest teams. This was also the case in 2004, and the selection committee still managed to have them meet in the national semifinals. That won't happen again. Last time I pointed out that Duke and Villanova would likely be placed as top seeds on the same side of the bracket. I think this will happen regardless of who wins the Big East tournament. By process of elimination, expect Pittsburgh or West Virginia to be in the same regional as Duke.

I think Connecticut, Villanova, and Duke are locks as top seeds. Had Memphis beaten UAB, they'd be the fourth. Now, I'm not so sure. Ohio State is the best team in the highest-rated conference, and were #4 in the RPI before beating Purdue dropped them to #5. Winning the Big Ten tournament should seal the deal. The number next to each team below refers to its overall seed (out of 65).

Washington Regional
01. Connecticut: A collection of talent for the ages.
08. North Carolina: Outplayed and outcoached Duke last weekend.
09. Texas: Scoring 43 against Texas A&M won't get you far.
16. Iowa: Steve Alford needs to focus on the job he has.

Oakland Regional
02. Villanova: Ten healthy knees on the court will do wonders.
07. Tennessee: Will drug suspensions be an SEC distraction?
10. UCLA: Managed 4 straight wins to finish out Pac-10 season.
15. Illinois: How are they still in the top ten?

Atlanta Regional
03. Duke: Might play up to 4 Big East teams.
06. Gonzaga: This regional final may prove irresistible.
11. George Washington: RPI is 22. They're not St. Joseph's, 2004.
14. Pittsburgh: Only a 6 seed in the Big East tournament.

Minneapolis Regional
04. Ohio State: 2007 favorite playing like there's no tomorrow.
05. Memphis: Must win its tourney to avoid Nova, UConn regionals.
12. LSU: Might stumble in SEC tourney without their injured superfrosh.
13. Kansas: I'm not alone in writing them off a few months ago.


craig kaye said...

This is completely unrelated to your posting, but wanted to be the first to publicly congratulate you on Blog of the Week honors over at Columnist Manifesto. Congrats!

Neel Mehta said...

Thank you! I was wondering what the influx of Oscar's readers was all about. Now I know.