by Robert Ferringo - 03/14/2006
Scandal. Demagogic leaders. Unpredictability. Amazing inefficiency and ineffectiveness. Gratuitous nudity. Bad suits, worse accents, and more glad-handing than any Normal Human could stomach.
Yup, the teams that comprise the Washington, D.C. Region fit this town better than a Bill Clinton condom. Wait, he didn't use condoms…
Here is one man's look at the bracket that could bankrupt your stack quicker than the Republicans ripped through our budget surplus:
No. 1 Seed: Connecticut
My complaint against them is that they don't have that go-to perimeter scorer that can hit a three, beat guys off the bounce and just create his own shot. You can say Rudy Gay, but he doesn't have the demeanor and hasn't proven himself. They still have the most talent and the best overall team. However, over the last two years Connecticut and North Carolina were locks entering the Big Dance. This year UConn is the clear favorite, but they are by no means a lock.
No. 2 Seed: Tennessee
Okay, because I take time to slam them further down in this column I'm going to accent the positive here. The Vols can score on anybody at any time. They average an absurd 81.3 points per game, which is ninth in the nation, and they shoot nearly 40 percent from behind the arc, 19th in the nation. Bruce Pearl gets my vote for Coach of the Year. And at a time when guard play is everything, C.J. Watson and Chris Lofton are as good as any pair in college hoops.
But there's still no way they deserve this seed.
No. 3 Seed: North Carolina
No team had ever lost as much firepower and talent as the defending national champs. But Tyler Hansbrough has emerged as a force and the Tar Heels have remained prominent. However, I have said before that this is the time of year that I expect their youth to catch up with them. They are not going to walk through Murray State in Round 1, and they should definitely become George Mason fans. GM plays Michigan State, which would be a very tough second round match up for UNC. Let's also not forget that before last season's title, Roy Williams wasn't exactly Mr. March.
No. 4 Seed: Illinois
Dee Brown has always been money in the Madness, and I would be surprised if his swan song wasn't something sweet. They don't have the guns to win it all, but there's no way that they're going to go quietly. Air Force is a tricky draw, but they should overpower the Falcons. After that, the chalk says Washington, and I expect them to control that one. But when it comes to a date with UConn, it's not going to happen for Illinois.
No. 5 Seed: Washington
These guys are ridiculous. One second they look like a better-than-average club with one star (Brandon Roy) and some capable supports. The next they look like a JUCO team. They play Utah State, which is a team that defends very well and always manages to get good shots. If the Huskies survive they could face a very proud Illinois crew. A Sweet 16 berth would be akin to a national championship for these clowns. But the more likely scenario has them losing in one of those trademark 5-12 upsets.
Best first-round match up: No. 4 Illinois vs. No. 13 Air Force
If you want to watch a clinic of how to run an offense, watch this game. These two are both extremely efficient and effective in their sets. The Illini have a huge advantage because of their superior athleticism and the inside-outside combo of James Augustine and Dee Brown. However, I don't know if you can play the Experience Card with the Illini. This isn't nearly the same team that went to the finals last year.
Best potential second-round match up: No. 4 North Carolina vs. No. 5 Michigan State
Two public teams with recent NCAA titles could lock up in a marquee game on Sunday. North Carolina plays with more determination and heart, but Michigan State has a severe advantage in regards to tournament experience. Of course, I know this is a sucker bet. I'm positive of it. The Spartans have been a chump team all season (see: 13-17 ATS) and they don't defend the perimeter (232nd in 3-point defense). They have little or no heart, and no depth off the bench. But precisely because it makes no sense, that's why the Spartans have a great chance of winning.
Upset Alert (first round): No. 15 Winthrop vs. No. 2 Tennessee
No, this isn't some knee-jerk reaction to the Vols being handed an undeserved No. 2 seed. Winthrop, which was a couple of ill-fated possessions away from beating Gonzaga last year, brought back 12 of its top 13 players and I've been touting them all year. Tennessee, much like the real volunteers in the South's Civil War militia, doesn't play any defense. They're 312th in the country in field goal defense, 201st in rebounding, and have lost four of their last six outings. SEC teams have the worst first-round record of any of the Big Six conferences over the past five years (17-12). Also, Miss. St. in 2004, Florida in 2003, Alabama in 2002, and South Carolina in 1997 all failed to make it through opening weekend as a No. 2 seed.
Upset Alert (second round): Too many to choose from
There were a ton of potential upset games here (George Mason over UNC, MSU vs. UNC, Winthrop over Seton Hall, Utah State over Illinois). When things go awry in this tournament, it's going to start right here in this bracket. There are a ton of landmines in our nation's capitol. The largest potential buster is UAB over UConn. I don't think it will happen, but that's the one game that could crush office pools across the nation.
Dark Horse Teams: No. 12 Utah State and No. 13 Air Force
Because everyone has been trashing these two crews since the bracket was announced (the thugs from the Cincinnati's team would roll down to Utah State for a drive by, but I don't think they could find Utah on the map) one of them is going to win in the first round. It's a lock. These guys aren't dark horses because they're going to make a run at the Final Four. They're sleepers because they have the potential to snipe out a pair of teams (Washington, Illinois) that could've made a run.
Team That Makes Me Nervous: Michigan State
As you know, there are a lot of teams that make me nervous in this region. North Carolina is young. Washington is squirrelly. Kentucky is schizo. Tennessee is excitable. But Michigan State started the season in a lot of people's top five and then went on to finish seventh (yes, seventh) in the Big 10. You know the talent is there, and Tom Izzo is an outstanding tourney coach, but this club is a real dicey bet. Paul Davis is a wet paper towel, and Shannon Brown and Maurice Ager are playing for the highlights. Not a winning formula.
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his Insider Page here.
The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of Doc's college basketball picks service.