NCAA Tournament Preview
The 2005 NCAA Basketball Tournament promises to be as action-packed as fans have come to expect. The NCAA Tournament has four regions. Here's a preview of the Syracuse region of competition. The teams in the "Who's looking sweet" section are predicted to reach the round of Sweet 16.
SYRACUSE REGION SEEDINGS:
1. North Carolina
9. Iowa State
10. North Carolina State
11. Northern Iowa
12. New Mexico
15. Central Florida
16. Oakland/Alabama A&M
Who to watch out for: North Carolina State, New Mexico,
Who’s looking sweet: North Carolina, Connecticut, Kansas,
Just imagine the possibilities in this Syracuse
region. How about Roy Williams’ Tar Heels vs. Roy Williams’
former employer, Kansas, with a trip to the Final Four on
the line? What about Jim Calhoun and UConn vs. Williams and
UNC in that same scenario? And don’t forget about the
critical play-in game that kicks off the tourney featuring
Oakland (12-18) and tournament first-timer Alabama A&M.
This region is loaded with talent, and is the most
stacked out of all of the regions. Florida is arguably
playing as good as anyone in the country right now, fresh
off of their SEC tournament championship win over Kentucky.
Villanova had a very good showing in the Big East
tournament, and was a bad foul away from reaching the title
game against Syracuse. The Wildcats are a very dangerous
team. The possible 4/5 match-up between Florida and
Villanova in the round of 32 has instant classic written all
Intriguing teams include Bucknell and New Mexico.
The Bucknell Bison have already won AT Pittsburgh this
season, and are no joke. Kansas has already had first round
trouble with the Patriot League, as well. If you can think
back to 2002, the top seeded Jayhawks narrowly escaped from
16-seed and Patriot League champion Holy Cross. If the
Jayhawks are looking past the Bison, then we could see a
massive bracket-busting upset.
The New Mexico Lobos beat Utah for the second time
this year to grab the Mountain West Conference’s automatic
bid, and have a premier player in Danny Granger (19 points
per game, 8.8 rebounds). It seems like every year at least
one 12 seed knocks off a five seed and the Lobos are solid
enough pull off the job. The one large question mark about
New Mexico this season was its strength of schedule, which
ranked 299th in the country. The Lobos will have to pass its
toughest tests of the year, and Granger will have to be on
his game for them to move on.
North Carolina State figures to be an interesting
team in this region. The Wolfpack were thought to be NIT
bound until a late surge by a finally-healthy squad
propelled them into the NCAA tournament. Senior Julius Hodge
is finally getting the support from his teammates,
specifically three-point sharpshooter Ilian Evtimov, and
swingman Cameron Bennerman, and the Wolfpack are no longer a
walkover. Their 7/10 game with Charlotte should be a great
one featuring two teams with different styles of play. NCST
runs a Princeton-style, slow paced game based on backdoor
cuts and many three pointers. Charlotte loves to run up the
score, and has a frontline of stars Curtis Withers and Eddie
Basden to accompany three-point gunner Brendan Plavich, who
will shoot from anywhere on the floor if given an inch of
space. The winner of that game will have a tough time facing
up against Coach Calhoun’s Huskies, the defending national
Connecticut, although missing out on the Big East
championship, is playing as well as anybody in the nation.
The front line of Rudy Gay, Josh Boone, and Charlie
Villanueva is downright freakishly talented, and point guard
Marcus Williams has finally peaked at the right time,
finding consistency with his shot and his passing abilities.
UConn can put a scare into anybody in this bracket, but in a
potential Elite Eight match-up against North Carolina, the
Tar Heels will come out on top, just as they did in Hartford
a month ago.
North Carolina is the class of this star-studded
region. Sean May looks as if he’ll play his way to a tourney
Most Outstanding Player trophy, as he dominates the low
post, and has great hands to catch the great passes from
star point guard Raymond Felton. That inside-outside
combination is among the most lethal in the college game.
Rashad McCants is going to have to regain some of the
strength he lost from sitting out because of an intestinal
disorder in order for the Tar Heels to be the complete team
they need to be to move on to St. Louis. If the versatile,
can-score-from-anywhere-on-the-floor McCants shows up to
complement Felton’s playmaking, May’s low post dominance,
and the bench support from freshman star Marvin Williams and
role players David Noel and Melvin Scott, Carolina will have
no problem emerging from this extremely difficult region.
Predicted Region Champion: North Carolina Tar Heels