Five That Could. Go. All. The. WAY!
Five teams with the up-front chops to win it all.
Florida (#1, Midwest): And not just because Joakim Noah sells babies on the black market and Billy Donovan spends five days a week covered in orange fur and peeing in my bathtub, but also because Al Horford is banging your mom. This Florida team doesn't have heart and they don't have guts, but they've got talent and they're meaner n'fuck, and they will come over and drink all your beer if you piss them off.Five That Could Surprise
North Carolina (#1, East): They go deeper -- with the talent to back up the depth -- than anybody else in the nation. They're young and flaky, but the wheels are back on the bus and, hell, if Dick Vitale is picking them honestly and sincerely to win it all? Well then.
Georgetown (#2, East): They had a Thompson on the sidelines and a Ewing on the court in '82; they've got a Thompson on the sidelines and a Ewing on the court this year.
Wisconsin (#2, Midwest): They'll match up against Florida in the regional final, but Alando Tucker is the real deal. Takes guts to play a running game in the Big Ten, and aside from the tournament final, it paid off.
Kansas (#1, West): Deep, smart, well-coached, not nearly as young as a lot of other teams, and a chip on their shoulder about going out West and all the press about Texas and Durant. Maybe the best team in the tournament; maybe the most underrated team in the country.
Five high seeds that could run to the title, if you're looking to make a lot of money on a surprise (but risky) Final Four team.
Pittsburgh (#3, West): Pitt is playing for pride, after a horrible thrashing in the Big East finale by Georgetown, and Jamie Dixon is coaching for his sister Maggie, who died last year of heart failure at the age of 28, less than a month after she took the Army women's team to their first ever NCAA tournament.Five That Could Upset
Texas A&M (#3, Midwest): They depend heavily on talented but mercurial point guard Acie Law IV, but he is, by far, the best point guard in the country, and he could win them their bracket single handedly.
Texas (#4, East): I could rant about the strength of Carolina's bracket, but I'm not going to. Instead I'm going to tell you that unlike Greg Oden, Kevin Durant can play -- can shoot from inside, can shoot from mid-range, can shoot from outside, and has arms like an octopus -- and the East has the best chance of a surprise Final Four contender.
Virginia (#4, South): Sean Singletary and J.R. Reynolds have something to prove.
Oregon (#3, West): The Ducks scare no one, and they should. Probably the most reliable team in the Pac-10 this year, and they're not an amazing paper team but reliability is not to be discounted in the tournament.
Who's gonna be this year's George Mason? Don't say George Mason.
Winthrop (#11, South): Smart, fast, underseeded -- played Carolina hard in November. Almost a guarantee against Notre Dame in the first round.Five Not To Count Out
Weber State (#15, West): UCLA's crumbling; Weber State has a history of upsetting big name schools. Just ask Carolina.
Davidson (#13, Midwest): Deadspin had the best line on their first round game with Maryland: Maryland vs. Davidson in the Schools Lefty Dreisell Once Coached Bowl. Maryland is, like all the temperamental schools in the ACC (read: all 12 of them), unpredictable, and Davidson is a proven tournament Cinderella.
Albany (#13, South): They were almost the first #16 to upset a #1 last year, and they've returned most of their starters.
Oral Roberts (#14, East): Okay, I really just wanted to include Oral Roberts in this preview. Although they're not a bad -- but risky, risky, risky -- pick if you want to break away from the pack in the first round.
Five teams with lower seeds who might make a run.
Duke (#6, West): With their lowest seed in 11 years, this Duke team is battered, beaten, and young; but to their credit, they could take the chip on their shoulder, DeMarcus Nelson, and a lot of youthful stupidity and do some damage in the West.
Vanderbilt (#6, East): Beat Florida solidly; an incredibly talented team that's played their season in other teams' shadows.
Lousiville (#6, South): Oh, God, I can't believe I'm typing these words, but Rick Pitino knows how to win in the tournament and Louisville has geared up the play in the last month, hardcore.
Georgia Tech (#10, Midwest): Fighting for a chance to play at home in Atlanta? Hell, yeah, they're rambling wrecks and hecks of engineers. (Probably not the latter, actually, BUT WHO ARE WE TO QUIBBLE WITH FIGHT SONGS.) Like Texas A&M, Tech's fate rests on the shoulders of two mercurial guards, Javaris Crittendon and Thaddeus Young, but when they're good, they're good.
Nevada (#7, South): Two words: Nick Fazekas. One of the best pure shooters I've seen in years; light him on fire, and the other team is gone. The only trouble is sometimes the fuse is too damp to flame up.
I couldn't be arsed to mention Boston College here.
Memphis (#2, South): Memphis could have gone 30-3 in Conference USA starting me, onthecontrary, quicknow, Herb Sendek and the cop who arrested Josh Heytveldt in Spokane. You want a 15 seed over a 2 seed? Pick North Texas.
Duke (#6, West): With their lowest seed in 11 years, this Duke team is battered, beaten, and young; next year, guys.
Ohio State (#1, South): Greg Oden's overrated and the rest of the team is sort of non-descript.
Virginia Tech (#5, West): WHAT-EVER.