Thursday, March 16, 2006

NCAA Tournament Picks: Atlanta Region

Atlanta Region
Oakland Region
Washington Region
Minneapolis Region
Final Four

Let's start the picks off here, if I may. (winners bolded)

FIRST ROUND

1) Duke vs. 16) Southern
I'm going to go out on a limb and say Duke will rout them. Just a gut feeling.

8) George Washington vs. 9) UNC-Wilmington
Very interesting game. This probably the type of game where if George Washington was a 5 seed, and Wilmington was a 12, I would probably pick Wilmington for some strange psychological reason. As it is, I think George Washington is a little better team, and I think they'll be a little upset about getting underseeded, and win a close one.

5) Syracuse vs. 12) Texas A&M
Everyone is pointing to this game as the 5/12 upset... and I agree. I think Syracuse is not quite as good as their seed because of their hot streak, and I think Texas A&M is a little better than most 12 seeds. They play good defense, they're althetic, and they should be able to get it done for the in.

4) LSU vs. 13) Iona
LSU will win this game but don't sleep on Iona. They're a veteran club, and their led by the left Steve Burntt, who scores 25 points a game. This will be a pretty close one, I think.

6) West Virginia vs. 11) Southern Illinois
I think this is a really bad matchup for West Virginia. Their offense relies mostly on timing and shooting the ball well, especially since they don't get to the line and they don't rebound well. Southern Illinois is a very good defensive club, and they can frustrate you by taking a lot of time off the clock offensively. I like the Salukis in a low scoring game.

3) Iowa vs. 14) Northestern St.
Like the LSU/Iona game, I think this is a lot closer than seeds would indicate. In most years, Northwestern St. would be a 12 or 13 seed, but with the bottom teams being stronger, they're only a 14. But I do like the Hawkeyes to prevail.

7) California vs. North Carolina St.
Tough game to call, but I think because the Wolfpack have struggled so much lately, combined with the fact that the Golden Bears have the game's best player (Leon Powe) will propel them to a close win.

2) Texas vs. 15) Pennsylvania
Penn might be able to keep it close for a while, but that's it. Texas' starting 5 is too good.


SECOND ROUND

1) Duke vs. 8) Goerge Washington
I think George Washington's style of play will really cause Duke problems. They don't really have the personnel to play the type of game the Colonials play. But, I do think Duke will win, largely on the strength of Shelden Williams inside. But it should be an entertaining game.

4) LSU vs. 12) Texas A&M

I think A&M can spring one upset, but that's it. Glen "Big Baby" Davis will take over inside to get the Tigers to the Sweet 16.

3) Iowa vs. 11) Southern Illinois
With the way these two teams play, this could be the lowest scoring game of the tournament. The winner might not even need 50 points. But I do like Horner and Haluska on the outside, and then Brunner on the inside to get the job done just enough to stop the Salukis Cinderella run.

2) Texas vs. 7) California
Powe is a beast down low, but he won't get enough help here. Buckman and Aldridge down low will be able to slow him down enough, and Gibson and Tucker will provide some scoring. Texas wins.


SWEET SIXTEEN

1) Duke vs. 4) LSU
First off, allow me to eat a little crow. Less than a month ago, I watched LSU beat South Carolina in a tight game, and I was not impressed. So my pick of LSU over Duke might come as a little surprise. Allow me to explain.

First, South Carolina was a better team than I thought, and they showed that in the SEC Tourney. Second, I really think LSU is a very bad matchup for Duke. The're athletic. I think freshman Tasmin Mitchell will be able to control J.J. Redick somewhat with his length and quickness. But more importantly, I think you have to attack Duke offensively down low. And who better to do that than Glen Davis and Tyrus Thomas? I like Davis to have a big day, and for LSU to win a tight game to advance to the regional final.

2) Texas vs. 3) Iowa
This could be a rather dull Sweet 16 game. But I do like Texas here, although it won't be easy. Iowa will be able to wear them down somewhat, which is key because Texas does not have a real deep bench. But I don't think Iowa has enough shooters to beat the Longhorns. Texas wins.


REGIONAL FINAL

2) Texas vs. 4) LSU
This could be an entertaining game between a couple of very talented teams. Texas has one of the best starting lineups in all of college basketball, while LSU has some great young talent. I think Buckman and Aldridge can slow Davis down somewhat, like they did with Powe. For this reason, I like Texas in a tight one. But Daniel Gibson needs to come to play.

REGIONAL CHAMPION: TEXAS

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