NCAA Regional Preview
East: This is the region that confused me the most. Purdue is still alive, Temple is still alive, and SW Missouri is still alive. After the weekend, I suspect none of them will be.
Duke over SW Missouri St.: The Bears have certainly savaged their first two opponents, but Duke is in a different class. Still, the press has been dynamite thus far and this could be the bigger of the two hurdles for Duke Final Four return.
Temple over Purdue: having gone 0-4 in these teams previous games, I'll just stick with the higher seed and not pretend that I have a clue.
On the rise: everyone.
St. Petersburg Bound: Duke
South: I got all four of these right last week. Not a big deal, considering they were the top seeds, but a fact nonetheless.
Ohio State over Auburn: I have seen very little of these teams, both are suffering a bit from their stars (Penn and Porter, respectively) not playing well to this point. OSU has had an easier time of it, but that may just be due to the class of second round opponent. We all expect Auburn to lose eventually, this may be the time.
St. John's over Maryland: This is like picking a horse race. You have the horse (Maryland) with a win over a champion, and on other occasions, unable to compete with top horses. And you have another horse (St. John's), who has run many races against top horses, stayed very close to them, but rarely wins. Maryland beat Stanford by 2 back in November, St. John's lost them by 2 in November. That's the plus game for the Terrapins. The Red Storm lost to Duke by four in the best regular season game of the year, Maryland couldn't handle them, losing twice by 18. St. John's lost to Miami by 5, by 3, then finally beat them by 3 in the Big East Tournament. St. John's lost to UConn by 4, then got routed by 19 in the Big East final -- their only big loss to a top team. Against other teams still around, St. John's lost by 1 to Purdue when they were a legitimate top team back in November, Maryland lost by 12 to Kentucky. To me, there are two ways to look at it -- St. John's will lose close to Maryland, like they do to every other top ten team, or the Stanford win by Maryland was a mild fluke. I love what the Red Storm did last week, they look sharp, and I think this race belongs to them.
On the rise: Red Storm is rising.
St. Petersburg Bound: St. John's -- Maryland winner.
Midwest: Wasn't the Kentucky-Kansas game a beauty? There's something to be said for schools with that kind of tradition and class meeting in a life or death situation. Miami of Ohio was the only one of these four I didn't have last week. The ghost of Larry Bird hovers over their run -- but I don't think they're Indiana St. and I don't think Wally's Larry.
Michigan St. over Oklahoma -- A victory by the Sooners would be unprecedented. Still, I like this team, and their easy win over UNCC despite the absence of their starting center was impressive. I also am very impressed by Eduardo Najera. All along I've felt MSU was being underrated by prognosticators, I still think so.
Kentucky over Miami, OH -- They're not Indiana St., they're not the Danny Manning Kansas team. They are darn good, though, and should give Kentucky all they can handle, but class means a lot at this level.
On the rise: Oklahoma
St. Petersburg Bound: Michigan St.
West: Two right, two wrong for me last week. I wasn't that shocked by Stanford losing, as I thought they were vulnerable. Two many Cinderellas and nowhere near enough glass slippers out here.
UConn over Iowa: I've liked the Huskies all along. Both these teams are on a mission, but I like the Husky missionaries a lot more than Tom Davis' legions.
Florida over Gonzaga: Two pretty nice teams. I picked against Florida in the first round, but noted that if they could get by Penn they could go far. I think the Elite Eight is far enough.
On the rise: Florida
St. Petersburg Bound: UConn, at last. But Florida is a very dangerous team, if they get to the final game and they shoot really well, it could be a big upset in the making.