Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The NCAA double dip (2007)

I wrote last year about the possibility of a single school putting both their men's and women's basketball teams into the Final Four in the same postseason. While that sounds unlikely, it does happen: to Georgia in 1983, Duke in 1999, and someone every year since 2002: Oklahoma, Texas, Connecticut, Michigan State, and LSU.

Who will join them this year? A remarkable 23 schools are in both brackets this March, but only a handful stand a reasonable chance of accomplishing the feat:

1. North Carolina. Men are a #1 seed; women are a #1 seed. I'm actually picking it to happen, but it won't be easy. The men could face Michigan State, Texas, and Georgetown. For the women: Notre Dame, Texas A&M, and either Purdue or Georgia.

2. Ohio State. Men #1; women #4. I've written enough about the Buckeye men and women in the past few days. The women would have to upset Tennessee and either Maryland or Oklahoma, but they would be playing in Dayton. The men's path is more doable, but they could face Texas A&M in San Antonio.

3. Texas A&M. Men #3; women #4. I mentioned both teams above. Basically, it's all about geography. The men will probably have to beat Louisville in Lexington to make that San Antonio regional. The women would play their second weekend in Dallas, but even their best might not be good enough against Carolina.

4. Maryland. Men #4; women #2. I don't think the men merit a 4 seed, but they can take advantage of it in a weak bracket if they can beat Florida. The women try to defend their title in the Dayton regional, probably against Oklahoma and Tennessee.

5. Louisville. Men #6; women #6. The Cardinals are a double longshot, but they could surprise. As I said, the men play in nearby Lexington the first two rounds. If they get to San Antonio, they'd face either Memphis or Nevada before Ohio State. The women are in a tough half-bracket, where they'd have to upset Arizona State and Vanderbilt for the right to play Duke. In Greensboro.

6. Tennessee. Men #5; women #1. The biggest story this year in Vols basketball was a quid pro quo: Bruce Pearl painted his chest for a women's game, and Pat Summitt wore a cheerleader's uniform for a men's game. Remember that the women would likely face Ohio State in Dayton, and then get the Maryland-Oklahoma winner. The men would also get Ohio State, if they can get past Long Beach State and either Virginia or Albany. I have them losing in the first round.

The other 17 schools are BYU, Duke, George Washington, Georgia Tech, Gonzaga, Holy Cross, Marquette, Maryland, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Old Dominion, Oral Roberts, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Stanford, Vanderbilt, and Xavier.

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