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Atlanta Regional Breakdown

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First Round
#1 Duke vs. #16 Southern
One of these years, a #16 seed will take down an ill-slotted #1 team. Not this year, at least in the Atlanta region. Duke will have no trouble here. Pick: Duke


#8 George Washington vs. #9 UNC-Willmington
Put up or shut up time for GW. After spending all year bragging about being ranked higher than Georgetown, GW managed to wind up with a worse seed. The injury status of Pops will be key. If he can play, GW can win. Even so, GW just hasn't beaten anyone good. Here's their chance. Pick: UNC-Willmington


#5 Syracuse vs. #12 Texas A&M
Can the miracle run for Syracuse continue for one more game? We think so. Texas A&M won't be an easy out, but they only have one quality win all year. Take a bow, Longhorns. Jim Boeheim knows what he's doing. Pick: Syracuse


#4 LSU vs. # 13 Iona
The Tigers are young, but tremendously talented. They may be a year away, but they've got the size and athleticism to play with anyone in the country. Iona is just outmatched here. Pick: LSU


#6 West Virginia vs. #11 Southern Illinois
The heralded Missouri Valley Conference tournament champion Salukis provide us with our first upset pick of the Atlanta region. Make no mistake about it, if West Virginia is feeling it from the outside, they can give -anybody- a game. They haven't looked great for a while now, as teams have learned how to best defend their free shooting style. The Salukis are a little green, but they can do this. Pick: Southern Illinois


#3 Iowa vs. #14 Northwestern State
Iowa likes to slug its opponents to death. In our experience, that works well in the tournament. Northwestern State had better be prepared to play a dirty, physical game; that's Iowa's style. I actually think NW State will keep this game close, but Iowa pulls it out. Pick: Iowa


#7 California vs. #10 NC State
Two mediocre teams with mediocre seeds battle for the right to play Texas. Leon Powe is a remarkable force, but the real key for Cal will be getting in a groove against NC State's guards. Cal has struggled at times with long and athletic guards, which NC State has. I won't be surprised if NC State wins this game, but something tells us that Powe is going to have an outstanding game. Pick: Cal


#2 Texas vs. #15 Pennsylvania
Penn can only hope that Texas has a turnover fest. Otherwise, this one will be over with time to spare. Horns advance with big games from Tucker and Aldridge. Pick: Texas


Second Round
#1 Duke vs. #9 UNC Willmington
No way Coach K exits in the second round this year. Reddick is too potent. Pick: Duke


#4 LSU vs. #5 Syracuse
The Orange finally reveal their true colors: not that good. The remarkable run comes to an end as LSU ends Gerry McNamara's career. Pick: LSU


#3 Iowa vs. #11 Southern Illinois
Iowa finds its feet after a close first rounder and controls the inside against the Salukis. The rebounding edge in this one will be the difference. Pick: Iowa


#2 Texas vs. #7 California
This is one where Texas will need Aldridge to play well. The Horns can beat Cal by getting to the rim, both with penetration and constant interior feeding. The Bears won't be an easy out, but Texas has advantages at nearly every position. Pick: Texas


Sweet 16
#1 Duke vs. #4 LSU
The sexy pick here, and one you're seeing in a lot of brackets, is the LSU upset over Duke. Not gonna happen. While LSU is an interesting, strong young team, they lack the leadership to pull off this upset. Coach K will prepare his kids to win, and win they will. Reddick and Williams light up LSU to advance. Pick: Duke


#2 Texas vs #3 Iowa
A rematch of a December slugfest that Texas eeked out. The problem for Iowa is that Texas is much improved from their first meeting. Iowa hasn't changed much, while Texas' best players have improved as they've gotten back in to basketball form. The Horns breathe a little easier this time around. Pick: Texas


Elite 8
#1 Duke vs #2 Texas
This one's going to get lots and lots of hype, if it happens. Then again, the matchup in December got lots and lots of hype. Still, Texas wasn't ready back in December. Buckman got hurt right away, Aldridge was just getting in to the swing of being on the court again, Tucker hadn't quite rounded in to his aggressive form, and Gibson was completely absent. Things have changed a lot since then; most notably, the development of Aldridge and the recent resurgence of Daniel Gibson. It may not show statistically, but what Gibson is doing on offense is terrific. If he keeps it up, Texas will be fine in the tournament. If he reverts to Stand And Shoot, we're in trouble. A better defensive game plan for Reddick would be nice, too. Pick: Texas

--PB--