AW: You made it home. Congrats.
PB: Made it home. My initial bracket thoughts about to go up on the site.
AW: I just got finished watching the KU first half on DVR. Unreal level of basketball by both teams.
PB: I saw the first half from the airport before departure. Insanity. No one missed. Let’s talk tourney: Midwest is disgustingly loaded
AW: That's your Georgetown bias talking. I thought Vandy was too high and Clemson got lots of credit for their tourney run. Also, I can't stand Wisconsin. I'll take OJ Mayo over the Badgers.
PB: Not sure I agree; Clemson looks terrifying to me. Southern Cal is NOT a team I'd want to play. And Beasley's dangerous. Plus KU. And a very deep, experienced Hoya team.
AW: Ok, ok, but I still like Kansas to emerge.
PB: I do, too, but that's a killer bracket.
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AW: You missed the ACC and Virginia Tech love fest that Billy Packer and Digger and Vitale spewed for a couple of hours after the brackets were revealed.
PB: Shocking... It's gross.
AW: Everyone was upset that AZ State didn't get a bid as well. Their RPI is above 70 and they were 1-7 against the top teams in the Pac 10 and their non conference was rated as 300th toughest. Give me a break.
PB: Seriously: boo hoo. Beat a good team outside the A-10
AW: When your best wins are over an Arizona squad w/o Jerryd Bayless, you don't deserve to get in. And when your resume reflects a near win to UNC, you don't deserve to get in either, VA Tech.
PB: The ACC wasn't that good this year. Sorry, people.
AW: Watching this game, Kansas just totally picked apart our 2-3 zone with high-low feeds and threes. Could this be Self's year?
PB: I think the field's wide open. The Jayhawks seem especially well balanced this year. Solid point guard, two outstanding perimeter guards who can shoot, and a stream of big bodies who can do damage. And one - Arthur - who's special on some nights. Add in that they play great D, and they look as good as anyone else, to me.
AW: I’m just tired of picking Kansas only to see them bow out early or run into UCLA. I do think they are the best team in the country, though.
PB: True. It's not an AW bracket without Kansas winning it all.
AW: I had Memphis pre-season though. And now...
PB: They're a wild card, huh? We haven't seen Memphis play anyone challenging since Tennessee, which of course they lost.
AW: I just remember Memphis too well from Dallas and from San Antonio. With Rose, they seem even more talented this year. If Dorsey doesn't run his mouth last year, they probably make the Final Four.
PB: We've been barking about the Houston Regional for months now. Now that we've got the prize, it begs the question: how big an advantage do you see it being for the 'Horns?
AW: Huge. I think Houston has the largest number of UT alums in the state. Ticket prices will be through the roof and burnt orange will be everywhere. The Aggies turned the Alamodome into a College Station South last year and were a Law layup away from winning their Sweet 16 game. Houston will definitely be a HUGE advantage for the Horns.
PB: I think that's right. You have to be a great team to make a Final Four run in college hoops, but you also have to have a certain mindset. And any mental edge that you can pick up is critical. You and I were both there for that San Antonio regional in 2003, and the home court advantage was enormous. I love this more than I could say.
You're an ACC guy: give me the scoop on Miami.
AW: Ha... I'm a Duke fan, but can't stand the love the ACC gets from ESPN. Miami went 8-8 in a down conference. They only played Carolina once and lost. They split with Duke, winning at home after blowing a huge lead. They are very athletic and solid on offense. Really haven't seen them play too much though.
PB: I've watched a lot of the 3-6-11 teams in our region - Stanford-Marquette-Kentucky. The Wildcats probably miss Patterson too much to emerge from that group, but I wouldn't count them out. Marquette is a poor man's version of Texas. And though Stanford presents an interior nightmare, their guards are awful and their overall team speed is atrocious.
AW: I really like the Marquette guards. I remember seeing them in Maui and being very impressed. When McNeal and James are on, they can be very, very good. You're right about the Patterson loss. I almost think that if the tornado doesn't hit Atlanta and shake everything up that the quarterfinal loss by UK might have been too much for them to overcome.
PB: Let's go region by region here, keeping it brief and bloggy. East: Winner? Sleeper? etc.
AW: Winner: I'll have to go with Carolina even though it pains me. Sleeper: Butler/South Alabama winner. I like Louisville as the second best team overall though.
PB: Agreed. Carolina looks to me in terrific shape here. Louisville's the team to watch, but I'm not going to sell the Vols short, either. Their defense is abominable, but if they can amp that up a bit, they're a scary group.
AW: Vols seem to be faltering at just the wrong time.
PB: Midwest: To me, the toughest regional. Kansas looks awfully tough right now, but unless Clemson gives them trouble, the real fight is in the bottom of the bracket, which is loaded with teams I fear. A potentially terrific Elite Eight match up, between what may be the best team in the country and the winner of a very dangerous bottom bracket.
AW: Kansas fans have to be thankful the Jayhawks don’t draw a team that starts with the letter B, huh? KU should have no trouble getting to at least the Sweet 16 and probably the Final Four. I think Clemson and Vandy were both seeded too high. In the lower part, G'town is good but beatable. They aren't going to ever blow people out, so the rest of that sub region has a shot. I like Davidson to beat a cross country traveling Gonzaga team in the first round. I also like USC to rally around Mayo and reach the Elite Eight for a rematch with KU.
PB: To the West: did UCLA once again get the easiest draw in the field?
AW: Without a doubt. Although, A&M could give the Bruins some trouble in a race to 40 pts. I like UConn but not enough to upset UCLA. The bottom of this bracket is WEAK. Duke isn't the Duke were used to seeing, Xavier just lost in the semis of the A-10 tourney, and Purdue doesn't scary anyone. Zona may be the most talented 10 seed in history but they haven't gotten it all together all year. Why should we think they will now?
PB: I have to agree. UCLA's toughest match up might just be A&M, who have been wildly inconsistent, but at the very least are well suited to play brutal, body-banging Bruin basketball. Connecticut's too young and too inconsistent on offense to make me believe they can handle UCLA, and I'm with you all the way on the bottom of the bracket: I don't see a serious challenger. Three straight Final Fours for UCLA looks probable.
Concluding thoughts: Your overall feeling on Texas' chances of reaching the Sweet 16, Elite 8, and Final Four?
AW: Barring a phenomenal effort by Miami, I like our chances of reaching the Sweet 16. Let's say 90%. Stanford is going to present some challenges but I'm going to go with your scouting report on how slow they are. Remember that three of their losses are to UCLA. They've beaten just about everyone else. Let's say 75% of reaching the Elite Eight. If we can get past the Cardinal, then who knows. Once you get down to the final 16 and certainly the final 8, most of the teams are equal. Memphis was my preseason pick to win it all and haven't shown too many signs of weakness. They’re really one half of basketball away from being undefeated. If it’s Memphis vs. Texas, 55/45 in favor of the 'Horns, just because of the crowd.
PB: My mantra heading into this thing is: Get To Houston. If we can avoid laying an egg in our first two rounds, I love our chances to get in a groove and win two in Houston. If we make the regional finals against Memphis, we're getting tested against a team that's very much like the Jayhawk team we've split with this year, except that they don't shoot the three pointer very well. That's the one weakness in Memphis that makes me wary of picking them to cut down the nets in Houston or, should they advance, San Antonio. Add in the home crowd and I think this Texas basketball team, if it plays its best, is the favorite in the South. Let the Madness begin...