Thursday, March 19, 2009
The Clarion Content's senior sports editor likes to pick two NCAA brackets, one immediately after the pairings are released, the other late Wednesday night just before the tourney starts the next day. This year the one team he has to the Final Four in both is the University of Washington Huskies. They are led by a trifecta of high quality players, including Jon Brockman at power forward, and two good guards, including the unfortunately named, Isaiah Thomas. The Clarion Content's sports editor likes the Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar who has had UW in the Sweet Sixteen twice in recent memory. The PAC-10 was underrated this year. They can't win it all can they?
The Huskies are in the West region. The Clarion Content sports editor's is torn in two other regions the South and the East. In the South much depends on the health of the big toe of the University of North Carolina's point guard, Ty Lawson. Even if he is healthy, UNC is in the toughest region with strong competitors in Syracuse and Oklahoma, both of whom are led by future NBA lottery picks. The 'Cuse has super strong and speedy guard, Johnny Flynn. Oklahoma has the likely number one overall pick in dominating big man Blake Griffin, think Kenyon Martin with better moves. In both brackets, he picked UNC to at least the Elite Eight.
A similar problem arises in the East were the Clarion Content sports editor loves the Duke trio of Gerald Henderson, Kyle Singler and John Scheyer. Like UNC, our editor has them ticketed for the Elite Eight in both brackets. In the top half of Duke's bracket is one of the best teams in the country the Pitt Panthers. Pitt has a terrific big guy in DeJuan Blair who led the rugged Big East in rebounding at 12.2 per game. They also have a tough and tested point guard in Levance Fields. However, this would be their first deep run into the tournament. Even though the Clarion Content likes Pitt Coach Jamie Dixon tons, our editor cautions betting against Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. In one bracket he has Pitt to the Final Four, and in the other he has Duke.
The final region is the Midwest and our editor is befuddled. He is not in love with Louisville or Michigan State, though with their talent and veteran coaches either one of these two squads could represent the region. Wake Forest likewise has tons of talent, but has been very inconsistent this year. The Deacs also have a newbie coach. The Kansas Jayhawks, the three seed in this region, have no starters back from last year's national champions. Their head coach Bill Self had led Kansas to two first round losses before an Elite Eight run and the title. Could a team lower than a four seed come out of this bracket? If so, our editor says put your money on Boston College.
To sum up, the National Championship will be won by Pitt, UNC, Washington or perhaps Oklahoma. The long shot first round upset possibilities include American University from the Patriot League, Cleveland State who beat Syracuse in the Carrier Dome this year with a last second half court shot and Arizona a talented PAC-10 at-large squad.